Facebook has announced that the beta launch for Instant Articles is now available across Asia. The new feature, which was introduced in May, will be pushed out across the region via more than 50 media platforms. In Singapore, the first beta user working with Facebook is The Straits Times, the country’s highest-selling newspaper.
Instant Articles, which is currently only available on iOS, is dedicated to making reading the news faster and easier. According to an announcement by the tech giant, average news stories take an average of eight seconds to load, which makes them the single slowest content type on Facebook currently. With Instant Articles, reading the news will be as much as 10 times faster than standard mobile web articles.
“Expanding Instant Articles to Asia is a significant milestone for the product and for each of our early launch partners,” said Andy Mitchell, Director of Global Media Partnerships, Facebook. “Instant Articles has been designed with extensive feedback from publishers, and we’re excited to bring this collaboration to our publishing partners in Asia to help them distribute fast, interactive articles to their readers in the Facebook app.”
Instant Articles will only be available for select articles, which will be indicated by a lightning bolt on the corner of the article’s image. Tapping on it will bring you to the article in a dedicated mobile-friendly platform which helps load high resolution pictures, videos, and even host 360 graphics.
According to Facebook: “Instant Articles is designed to give publishers control over their stories, brand experience and monetisation opportunities. Publishers in Asia are able to sell ads in their articles and keep the revenue, or they can choose to use Facebook’s Audience Network to monetise unsold inventory. Publishers will also have the ability to track data and traffic through their current analytics tools.”
The Straits Times joins Asian publishers like China’s CCTVNEWS, Korea’s SBS News, Malaysia’s Sin Chew Daily, and The Philippines’ ABS-CBN News, amongst many others. While other Asian publishers like Malaysia’s Berita Harian and Malaysiakini are said to have signed up for the programme and will be publishing with Instant Articles soon, no other Singapore-based publishers seem to be getting on board just yet.
Instant Articles is available to all iPhone users with Android to launch later this year, though a small public beta is already available now.