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Facebook Instant Articles Getting Video Ads Soon

4 April 2016, 10:38 am EDT By Horia Ungureanu Tech Times
Facebook has announced that publishers will be able to insert video ads in the content appearing in the Instant Articles program. The feature should increase reader engagement and ad revenues should go up for marketers and Facebook alike.  ( Jeevan Singla | Pixabay )

Facebook will allow publishers to increase the appeal of Instant Articles by placing video ads into content they post on the social media site.

Each Instant Article will be able to receive an additional ad unit at the bottom of the story, in a move which marketing experts claim will boost ad impressions by more than 20 percent.

At the time of writing, for each 350 words of content, publishers are allowed to post one ad.

"In our conversations with publishers, these changes popped up as the biggest steps we could take to make the biggest impact," says Josh Roberts, Facebook's Instant Articles product manager.

Instant Articles is a program Facebook initiated to help publishers post content on the platform, instead of linking to their specific webpages. The social media company implemented the idea after users complained of slow webpage loading times on external links.

Instant Articles will go live on April 12 and the new feature of the program will permit publishers to insert Autoplay and user-initiated video ads within the stories. It should be noted that Autoplay video ads are required to start with their sound turned off.

Roberts explains that the added capability aims to help publishers get more money out of their content. Ads are one of the major sources of income for social media companies.

If a publisher sells ads against its own content, it gets to retain the full revenue generated, whereas if a publisher uses Facebook to sell its ads, the social network gets a solid 30 percent of the money.

Roberts pointed out that his company will be in close contact with the publishing community, and further developments of Instant Articles are to be expected. Rumors surfaced that a feature that allows the collection of users' email addresses from Instant Articles is being tested. So far, no official information exists on it.

"Publisher feedback has been positive after the changes, but feedback is ongoing," Roberts underlines.

Publishers repeatedly asked Facebook to allow them to publish pieces of sponsored content as Instant Articles. Even if the topic is hot in the marketers' community, Roberts made clear that no statement from Facebook is available on the subject.

Back in December, Facebook tweaked its Instant Articles ad policy so that marketers and publishers can embed more ads in each article.

This February, the social media company introduced Canvas Ads, a tool that is supposed to increase the users' engagement by covering their whole mobile screen with an advertisement. The numbers seem to show that the addition was successful.

Early Canvas ads trial showed that more than 53 percent of users watch more than half of the ads. Most ads get an average screen-time of 31 seconds, with the most interesting ads capturing as long as 70 seconds of attention from viewers.

"Canvas is an immersive and expressive experience on Facebook for businesses to tell their stories and showcase their products," Facebook notes.

Maintaining a good balance between advertising permissions and user experience is an important aspect, especially for "free" social networks such as Facebook. As consumers of digital content, we relish in the myriad of sources but rarely want to be bothered by ads.

On the other hand, things may change if we get served exactly the type of ads that cater to our preferences, something that Facebook seems to be getting better at.

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