WSJ: Facebook Considers Changes To Instant Article Ads After Publisher Concerns
Because publishers aren't earning as much for Instant Article ads as they can on their own properties, Facebook is experimenting with relaxing policies that throttle the number of ads and prohibit rich media.
Faced with publisher concerns that they aren’t earning enough revenue from Instant Articles, Facebook is experimenting with changes to advertising within the program, according to the Wall Street Journal.
At issue are the restrictions the social network places on ads within the Instant Article format. Facebook only allows one banner-style ad sized 320 x 250 pixels for every 500 words of content within Instant Articles, while publishers would place three to four ads within similar stories on their mobile site. Facebook also currently doesn’t allow rich media ads within Instant Articles and prohibits publishers from selling Facebook-only campaigns, which prevents them from selling Instant Articles ads at a premium.
Those restrictions are making it difficult for publishers, including the Washington Post, the New York Times and LittleThings.com, to earn as much per post as they do on their own properties, the WSJ said.
Michael Reckhow, Facebook’s Instant Articles product manager, told the WSJ that based on publishers’ feedback, Facebook is testing changes to its ad policies for the format, including allowing more ads and rich media.
“It’s early days with Instant Articles, but one of our principles from the beginning has been to work collaboratively with our publishing partners to understand their needs and shape the product,” Reckhow said. “We’re currently working closely with publishers to understand how their advertising in Instant Articles compares to the mobile web so we can deliver results, while maintaining a great reading experience for people.”
Despite the issues with revenue, publishers still seem willing to gamble that the effort will eventually pay off. Washington Post chief revenue officer Jed Hartman noted that Instant Articles bypass ad blockers and that the faster-loading content will prove popular with people on Facebook and ultimately lead to higher readership that can be monetized. Joe Speiser, co-founder of LittleThings, is also optimistic Facebook will work out the kinks.
“It all comes down to how Facebook prioritizes this in news feed,” Speiser told the WSJ. “We’ve seen them prioritize video, and if they do anything similar with Instant Articles the numbers could go through the roof.”