Instant Articles now available on Facebook’s Messenger for Android

Facebook has expanded its Instant Articles feature to its Messenger platform. The feature will let users loads Instant Articles in a separate Messenger window, instead of a third-party browser, to save users’ time and data.

For the publishers that don’t support Instant Articles, the articles will open up normally in the smartphone’s default browser. Currently, the feature has only been rolled out for Messenger app users on Android. iOS users will get it sometime in the coming weeks. The feature will be added to the Android app via a gradual OTA update, so be patient if you haven’t received it yet.

Users will see  a lightning bolt on the top right corner of some links shared in Messenger which indicates it is an Instant Article.
For publishers who have enabled Instant Articles, Facebook will render the Instant Articles version of the article whenever its URL is shared in Messenger. At the moment, links which are shared on Messenger load on a mobile browser which can be a slower experience, Facebook added.
Instant Articles is a service wherein publishers allow Facebook to publish their entire content on the platform, and is loaded within the app itself. This gives Facebook control of the environment in which it is read, and optimise it for faster consumption. Websites usually have badly optimized javascript with external plugins that slow them down, as a compromise for features being served to readers.

In February, Facebook announced it would make the service available for all publishers, regardless of their size and location starting from April. It added that despite signing up a ‘few hundred’ publishers globally (about 300 at last count), the social networking giant had been working on tools for opening up Instant Articles, which was built to address slow loading times on mobile web.
Google too has a similar product up version called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) which speeds up load times by plugging a piece of Google code into publishers’ websites.
Indian publishers involved: Five Indian publishers India Today, The Quint, Aaj Tak, Hindustan Times and the Indian Express signed up for the IA platform. Among these, the India Today group, which owns India Today and Aaj Tak, was also a part of Facebook’s Internet.org service, the last time Facebook released its list of partners.
More ads on Instant Articles: In December last year, Facebook started allowing media companies to place one ad for every 350 words, as opposed to the previous one ad per 500 words.  For this, it is also launched a tool to automate the placement of ads to ensure maximum ‘ad load’ for every 350 words. The company will also allow publishers to highlight and link to specific content hosted on their sites from ‘related articles’ (like branded or sponsored posts) at the bottom of Instant Articles’ templates.

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