Before the rise of Facebook, landing conversions usually meant optimizing search engine traffic, building subscriber lists and uploading carefully copy-written landing pages. Facebook didn’t change that. It added to it. It created a whole new Internet on which businesses needed to build a presence, drive traffic and generate views. They also need to generate engagement, and especially shares, which was something new entirely.
But while Facebook was a place to build an audience, the real goal has always been to shift that audience off the platform and back on to the corporate site. Only there could that audience be converted.
The launch of Instant Articles marks a radical shift in the relationship between Facebook and the rest of the Web.
Under the new program, a number of leading content providers, including National Geographic, the New York Times, Buzzfeed, the Guardian and the BBC, will host their content directly on Facebook’s servers. Instead of clicking through to another website to follow a link, the article will open immediately from within Facebook. Publishers can make use of a number of Facebook-only extras such as autoplaying embedded videos, pop-out charts and images that can be individually liked but the biggest benefit will be speed. Users viewing Facebook on mobile devices — now the most popular way to use Facebook — will be able to see the content immediately instead of waiting for a browser app to open and download the page.
For users, the benefits are clear. For publishers less so. It’s as though the New York Times had told a more popular tabloid that it could publish its articles for free just as long as people were able to read them.
You Get a Boost in Ad Revenues And a 100 Percent Bounce Rate
Facebook has said that it will give publishers who distribute through Instant Articles all of the advertising revenues those pages generate but publishers are also guaranteed a 100 percent bounce rate; users have nowhere to go when they’ve finished reading but back to Facebook. Publishers will also be even more susceptible to Facebook’s algorithm changes. In the same way that a tweak to Google’s search engine algorithms can destroy a site’s traffic flow so a small adjustment in EdgeRank can decimate the reach of a Facebook page. The more publishers rely on Facebook and Google the more control over their audiences they surrender.
In return though, publishers aren’t just getting a boost in CPC and CPM revenues from Facebook-hosted pages. They’re also getting an opportunity to sell native advertising. Publishers like Buzzfeed create the content, which sometimes has little to do with the brand but carries its sponsorship, and they’re able to push it out to a large audience. Facebook’s Instant Article has made that easier by giving publishers bigger audiences than ever.
For social sellers this could be the start of a whole new strategy, one in which exposure is more important than engagement and distribution channels to giant audiences are as important as content.