Table of Contents

Overview

Facebook Instant Articles is a method of providing content to Facebook so that it is cached on Facebook servers and can be served nearly instantly when clicked on by a mobile user.

Essentially, in specific platforms (such as, in Facebook's search results on mobile), the browser will look for cached content on the Facebook servers and, if found, will redirect to that faster version of the page. This faster page is much more convenient and friendly to mobile users.

In order to use Facebook Instant Articles, you'll need to have a Facebook Business account set up (need to set up an account, click here).

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Facebook Instant Articles

Note:  For more information, check out Facebook Instant Articles FAQ.


Participation

Participating in Facebook Instant Articles project is optional. Media sites who do not want to participate simply do not need to go through this process. By default, a site is not set up with Facebook Instant Article configured to run.

Although Facebook Instant Articles and other external mobile platforms are still in their infancy stages and TownNews.com has not yet defined any specific Best Practice recommendations for their implementation. However, we do know a few pros and cons which you may want to consider while making the decision to participate:

PROS

  • Due to increase in speed, users will likely look at more pages, creating more ad impressions and generating more revenue for the media site.
  • Stories from sites who are participating get a little lightning bolt in the Facebook news feed, letting users know that they are “instant.”
  • Facebook Instant Articles are very user friendly to mobile users and are likely to increase mobile traffic.
  • Media sites may include their own analytics and ads, so they will still get page views and ad impressions for all Facebook Instant Articles traffic.
  • Early reports show that Facebook Audience Network ads tend to perform well and may generate improved CPM.

CONS

  • When a user views an “instant” article, they are viewing it on the Facebook site and not on their own site. There are many reasons why publishers may want to create a habit in users to come to their site, where they can gather data on users of their content. This also means that any mobile referral traffic from Facebook will likely be converted to Facebook Instant Articles. If your site gets 20% of your traffic from Facebook mobile referrals, that now switches to Instant Articles traffic (which will still show up in analytics as page views).
  • This is effectively an RSS feed that is sent over to Facebook, and many things are not supported - such as third-party content, custom JS, custom CSS etc.
  • Subscription is not currently supported with the Facebook Instant Articles platform. So sites who employ a hard paywall may not want to participate in the program.

Note:  Facebook Instant Article is only available on our Flex templates.


Asset Types

At this time only Article Assets are supported. It is possible that we will add additional types later, as Facebook makes them available. 

Ad Networks

Because integration with third-parties is very strict, the only Ad Network that is available is Google GAM and Facebook's Audience Network. Ad Manager and OAS are not compatible at this time. 


Note:  We are looking into the possibility of adding more Ad Networks in the future.


Implementation

The implementation for Facebook Instant Articles is more complicated than with other platforms. This would be an optional program for each customer. The customer would create an RSS feed in their BLOX Flex site, and use that feed during the setup on the Facebook side. Media organizations may also use tags to specify very specific content for Facebook, and then pull a feed of ONLY that content. This would allow organizations to pick and choose which content becomes “instant” on Facebook by simply applying a tag.

  Creating your "Facebook Instant Articles" RSS Feed

For help creating an RSS Feed, click here.

To get started, you’ll need to create a search from the front end of your site, which contains all of the articles you want to make “instant” on Facebook. This is just an editorial search, so you can use flags, queries, sections, etc. to craft the specific section of stories you want to send to Facebook.

For example, one recommendation would be to set up a site tag for “Facebook” and then search for it on the front end. This feed will then include only articles tagged with the Facebook site tag.

When you have created the feed that you’d like to send to Facebook, simply change the format to “RSS” (by adding &f=rss to the URL) and add an alternative-format of “facebook_instant_articles” (by adding &altf=facebook_instant_articles to the URL).

For an example of an "Facebook Instant Articles" RSS Feed, click here.

  Sign up for Facebook Instant Articles:

  • Sign up here.
  • Claim your URL.
  • Configure Facebook Instant Articles on your websites Facebook page.
  • Connect your Facebook Account using these instructions.

  To enable Facebook Instant Articles, log into your BloxCMS Admin. In the upper left corner, go to Design / Blocks and open the Root URL for your site. Under Page Customizations, expand Alternative Mobile Platforms.

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FacebookInstantArticle_PageCustom

Facebook Instant Article Claim ID - This property defines an ID that is used to claim a website's URL for use with Facebook Instant Articles.

Facebook Audience Network Ad Placement - This property will enable Ads in Facebook Instant Articles.

  • No Ads - Will not set any Ads in Facebook Instant Articles.
  • Facebook Audience Network - Facebook Audience Network requires a placement ID.
  • Google GAM - Google GAM uses existing settings in Advertising, with an option to set a unique preference.

Facebook Audience Network Ad Placement ID - This property defines a Facebook Ad placement ID, generated in the Facebook Audience Network Dashboard and required for Facebook Audience Network Ads.

Facebook Instant Article GAM Prefix - This property defines a prefix for GAM Ad units placed in Facebook Instant Articles. It defaults to Advertising GAM settings or the current domain name.

Once your Facebook Setup is complete, any Article Asset then included in your RSS Feed will be added as an “Instant Article.” You must publish it to be "live," or set your Facebook Instant Articles feed to auto-publish (available in the Instant Articles configuration).

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I choose to only include specific articles in Facebook Instant Articles?

  • Yes, and this is probably a good idea. You can choose any search parameters (as described above) to create your customized RSS feed for Facebook. You could even use a site tag called “Facebook” and create an RSS feed based on that site tag - which means only stories that you flag as “Facebook” would become “instant” on Facebook.

Does Facebook offer Analytics for this?

  • Yes, but it only uses Google Analytics and supports Page Views and allows you to see them separately from other Page Views.

Does Facebook support Paywalls?

  • No. If your site is a 100% Paywall Site, this is not a viable option for your mobile users. It will cache content that meets the requirements that is not behind a Paywall.

What Web Browsers are supported by Facebook Instant Articles?

  • None. You have to use the Facebook App for Mobile devices in order to view Facebook Instant Article content.

How does advertising work with Facebook Instant Articles?

  • For GAM Ads - they have to be inside a Facebook-built iFrame. TownNews.com builds in support for this.
  • Facebook Ads - Facebook will generate their own Ads and sell them to be positioned with your content. There is a 70%/30% split between your company and Facebook on the generated revenue with your company receiving 70%.
  • Your Ads - The Ads you place on your company's Facebook account are your's and you retain 100% of the revenue they generate.

Will this work for Apple iPhones?

  • Yes, but it is not currently available. It will require the Google News Format App installed on an iPhone. Target release date for this is the end of August 2016.

Are Related Child Assets allowed on Facebook Instant Articles?

  • No. All content has to be able to be cached and given its own unique URL (generated on Facebook servers as part of the process).

Are YouTube Videos allowed on Facebook Instant Articles?

  • Yes.

Should I change the names on Titles, URL's, or Sections after I use Notifier to broadcast my content to Facebook?

  • No. Once its published to Facebook, it is best to leave them as they are. It will not improve content delivery performance and actually could impair it.

Is there an Auto-Publish setting on Facebook?

  • Yes. You can find it on Facebook once you're logged into your company account under Publishing / Instant Articles.

Troubleshooting

Facebook Instant Articles

  • Ensure that your stories are set to “publish” in the “production articles” queue.
  • Make sure you’re using a mobile phone and viewing your page in the Facebook mobile app.
  • Make sure that you've shared the story to your news feed, and it has the same URL as what is in the Instant Articles queue.
  • In order for Facebook to scrape any changes to an already posted article, the user will need to save the asset using This update is important. For information see This update is important.