Facebook recently launched a new feature that promises to deliver faster loading times for news stories, as well as interactive features on users' smartphones and tablets.
The new feature is called Instant Articles, and it is designed to eliminate that frustrating feeling of waiting for a news story to fully load after clicking its link in the Facebook News Feed. According to the social media giant, Instant Articles should improve loading times to as much as 10 times faster than other articles on the Internet viewed via mobile.
Apart from the faster loading times, the Instant Articles feature also comes with a suite of features that include maps, image zooming capabilities, video autoplay capabilities, and audio captioning. Some of the websites that are partnering with the new feature include The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and BBC News.
As explained by Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer at Facebook, the ultimate goal of the Instant Articles feature is to better the overall experience of browsing the News Feed. This way, users can view content more efficiently, and without the delays and hiccups associated with slow loading times.
More importantly, the Instant Articles feature is designed to optimize user engagement, at the same time keeping Facebook users within the social media giant's environment. Previously, when users click news links, they will be directed to the news publication's website, adding more loading time, and drawing users away from Facebook. With the new feature, users can keep updated with news events without having to be taken away from their Facebook News Feeds.
The introduction of the Instant Articles feature is also evidence that social media platforms are now increasingly aware of the growing shift to mobile, and are now tailoring new features in order to cater to the mobile crowd. As of this writing, over 85 percent of Facebook users access their news feeds via a mobile device. As for Facebook itself, it has managed to generate $3.32 billion in revenues from ads during the first quarter of the year, and 73 percent of that came from ads displayed on mobile devices.
As for the news publications, they can also get a piece of the pie by selling ads via the news stories shown on Facebook. Moreover, with the use of the Instant Articles feature, news publications can track user traffic via comScore and other web traffic metrics tools.
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