Video Ads Are Coming to Facebook Instant Articles
Facebook is making further changes to the advertising policies for its Instant Articles product and will now enable publishers to place video ads into content they post on the platform.
The social network said it will also allow publishers to place one additional ad unit at the bottom of every Instant Article, which it estimated could increase ad impressions by more than 20%. Currently publishers may include one ad for every 350 words of content.
“In our conversations with publishers, these changes popped up as the biggest steps we could take to make the biggest impact,” said Josh Roberts, Instant Articles product manager at Facebook.
It’s the latest evolution for the Instant Articles program, which allows publishers to host content directly on Facebook instead of posting links to direct users back to their own websites. It’s designed, in part, to help address the problem of slow loading times on the mobile Web. Facebook said Instant Articles will be open to all publishers starting April 12.
Publishers will soon be able to place both autoplay and user-initiated video ads within Instant Articles, and to include pre-roll advertising before any editorial video content they publish, Mr. Roberts said. Autoplay video ads must have their sound disabled, however.
“We care about user experience first and foremost, but we know this doesn’t work if publishers can’t monetize their content successfully,” Mr. Roberts explained.
Facebook previously made changes to its Instant Articles ad policies in December after publishers complained that restrictions made it too difficult for them to generate revenue from content they posted to the feature. It began allowing publishers to include more advertising in each article and to sell Facebook-only ad campaigns to marketers.
Publishers welcomed those changes, and some said generating revenue from Instant Articles became easier as a result.
Facebook also stands to gain from more ad placements within Instant Articles. Publishers that sell ads against their own content keep 100% of the revenue generated, but if a publisher passes an ad slot to Facebook to sell, the social network takes a 30% cut of the money.
Mr. Roberts said Facebook will continue collecting feedback from publishers and may make further Instant Articles changes based on their requests. It’s currently running a test to allow some publishers to collect users’ email addresses from within Instant Articles, for example, which it may or may not roll out to all participants.
“Publisher feedback has been positive after the changes, but feedback is ongoing,” Mr. Roberts said.
Another feature publishers say they’ve repeatedly asked Facebook for is the ability to publish pieces of sponsored content as Instant Articles. Some publishers say they’ve been in talks about that functionality, but Mr. Roberts said Facebook currently has nothing to announce.