Facebook has now launched Instant Articles, a sort of sponsored news article with interactive elements and a super fast load time. According to Facebook, the average news piece took about eight seconds to load on the mobile app, a number the company is attempting to drastically reduce with its new service.
Loading as much as 10 times faster than a typical news post, Instant Articles has caught the attention of a number of major media outlets like the New York Times, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, National Geographic, NBC News, The Guardian and BBC News, among others, who have signed-up to use the service when posting on Facebook. The NYT, National Geographic, BuzzFeed and NBC News are the only outlets currently making use of it, but others are expected to join in on the fun soon.
The Instant Articles themselves are interactive in nature allowing users to zoom and pan through hi-res images by tilting their phone, access clickable maps, hear audio clips and more. They also offer publishers the same sort of (potential) ad revenue, along with a host of analytics tools they are used to having internally.
At this point most reports seem to suggest the new service is still in the testing phase, and like other forgotten Facebook experiments (Paper, Home), may not be around forever. It currently provides a much slicker news option for your Facebook feed, but requires that major publications use Zuckerberg to both host the content and draw in ad money. A new business model with Facebook that both took some time to negotiate and remains to be proven as successful. The service will initially only be available on iOS, but will hit Android soon.