Facebook’s Instant Articles is officially being tested, which comes after months of speculation and conversation about what the publishing service would actually look like in physical practice. Consumers are increasingly unwilling to wait for any content, and Facebook believes that it has the answers. While that remains to be seen, the test seems to be going well-enough. Facebook pointed out that while users wait just 8 seconds for the average news article to load through traditional means, this new process, or Instant Articles, as Facebook is calling it will cut that time down once again. However, not all of the speculation is positive speculation. In fact, a lot of the attention Facebook has received on Instant Articles, at least on paper, has been negative.
Shaul Olmert who founded Playbuzz, pointed out that, “People don’t want their Facebook experience interrupted—they want their content consumption to happen within their newsfeed.” That is most-specifically the case with users of Facebook. As a platform, Facebook is banking on the fact that their users will not grow tired of the amount of content they have to offer, or that the sources they use will not grow tiring for users. At this state of the game, the problem will be based on the fact that even as Facebook has some high-profile content providers, they’re still limited. Meaning, the New York Times, National Geographic, and the few other bigger publications they’re going to be using aren’t that diverse. They cover a lot of ground, but they might not deliver the way Facebook wants them to long-term.
Another major problem that Facebook is going to face is maintaining their competitive edge. They’re appealing for these companies right now because they’re mostly entities that are struggling on the publication side. Take the New York Times for example. We’re not talking about a publication that wields the power and influence it once did. Digital content providers are leading the way, and it’s becoming easier to provide information.
Roadblocks are everywhere though, and they aren’t just limited to the way people consume their news. It also weighs heavily against the amount of content they’re used to taking on. Short blurbs of information – usually staying under 400 or 500 words typically wins most demographics. For those who feel they need proof just take a look at how journalists use Twitter, and how, even as the social network continues to fail to get new users – it remains a place where news is frequently broken for the first time.
The entire culture and conversation around news has changed and there isn’t any guarantee that Facebook will win with Instant Articles. It’s a great concept, but is it a great concept that can work out long-term, and sustain not only Facebook, but the providers who will be allowing Facebook to show their content.