Commexis Cast Daily – Feb. 05, 2018: Some Big Publishers Have Abandoned Facebook Instant Articles

Today’s Commexis Cast discusses Facebook instant articles abandonment by nearly half of the original publishers who adopted the program. Why did they leave? How successful are instant articles, really?

The Columbia Journalism Review published a study by Pete Brown at the Tow Research Center for Digital Journalism which found 38 of the original 72 adopters of the Facebook Instant Article program in May and October 2015 had not posted an instant article over a 12 hour span on January 17, 2018 (chart below).

Chart via Pete Brown of Tow Center for Digital Journalism published on the Columbia Journalism Review.

While not entirely indicative of instant articles’ lack of use by platforms, this snapshot does argue a point that if instant articles were as important to these brands, one could expect at least one posting within a 12 hour our time period. In addition, the study found that, “[o]f the 2,308 links analyzed, 1,491 (around two-thirds) went to a publisher’s homepage, leaving 817 as Instant Articles.”

Chart via Pete Brown of Tow Center for Digital Journalism published on the Columbia Journalism Review.

Matt and Phillip discuss the reasons behind the push towards more referral traffic on Facebook pages compared to instant article postings, especially for brands with subscription services, as well as the reasons some publishers seem to be all in on instant articles.

Speaking of referral traffic, Digiday’s Max Willens writes about Flipboard’s success in giving publishers on the mobile reading platform just that. One passage in particular caught Phillip’s eye: “Mobile referral traffic from Flipboard is up over 350 percent since May, according to Parsely, albeit from a small base compared to Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook still dominate mobile referral traffic by a big margin, and Flipboard is a distant fourth after Twitter, according to Parsely.” While not a direct competitor of the large social media platforms, boasting “a monthly active user base of 100 million, less than 5 percent of Facebook’s 2.1 billion”, Flipboard may be able to offer users the tailored news aggregation they want without all of the additional commentary offered by family and friends on other social media platforms.

Today’s cast: Phillip Brooks (Commexis Lead Strategist) and Matthew McGrorty (Commexis Videographer/Podcaster).

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