Facebook makes it clearer when an Instant Article is an advertorial

You’re probably going to start noticing more advertorials adopting Facebook’s Instant Articles format.

On Friday, Facebook added some cosmetic changes to branded Instant Articles that highlight the brand involved and give them a little more flexibility with the look of their content. The changes are pretty minor — automatically adding a brand’s logo to the byline, as well as new colors, text styles and spacing for the corresponding content — but they combine to give brands more control over and visibility within their advertorials, which could give publishers a better chance of selling brands on Instant Article campaigns.

“People have told us that branded content that is overly promotional is less engaging, so we’ve designed these tools to give publishers elegant customization and branding options for marketers within their Instant Articles,” Facebook said in a company blog post announcing the changes.

Translation: If we highlight the brand up top and make the content look better down below, maybe the brand won’t feel the need to highlight itself so much in the actual article. And if marketers can get more obvious credit for their branded Instant Articles, maybe they will be cool with a publisher handling the work to ensure its advertorial isn’t too much advertising and not enough editorial.

Instant Articles have been open to brands since at least March, when WordPress and Steller added support for the social network’s custom content format. But only recently have brands and publishers gotten more vocal about using the format for advertorials. Intel started turning its advertorials into Instant Articles last week, and this week, The Washington Post and The Atlantic each started running Instant Articles campaigns for brands.

The recent rise in adoption may have to do with Facebook relaxing its rules around branded content in April. That move effectively sanctioned a brand paying a publisher to produce an Instant Article for the brand and distributing it organically through the publisher’s Facebook page. For publishers, that move meant they could incorporate Facebook even more earnestly in their branded content sales. And for advertisers, it meant a better chance of getting their advertorials in front of more people on Facebook. Since brands don’t get much organic reach on Facebook anymore, for a while their only option was to pay to promote their content as ads. But thanks to the rule change, they can piggyback publishers’ organic reach, and now they can get more notice while doing so.

About The Author

Tim Peterson
Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.