How to Pass the Facebook Instant Articles Review

Want to breeze through the Facebook Instant Articles review process? This post gives you all of the info that you are going to need. So let’s get started.

Quick Overview of Facebook Instant Articles

If you aren’t already familiar with it, Facebook Instant Articles (FBIA) is basically a feed reader that lives inside of the Facebook mobile app. You create a Facebook Instant Articles feed and Facebook pulls it in so that your content can be shown to the user within the Facebook mobile app. This provides a better user experience, is faster and creates less load on your servers.

Facebook lets you run your own ads within your Instant Articles (Facebook Instant Article Adsyou can do this with AdPlugg) or you can choose to have Facebook Audience Network ads automatically inserted.

Setting Up Your Facebook Instant Articles feed

There are a number of steps involved with setting up your FBIA feed and submitting it. For this post we are going to assume that you are using WordPress. If you aren’t using WordPress, check out our Facebook Instant Article Ads for Any Site post for setup instructions (the info here will still apply to the review process).

Here are the steps for WordPress:

  1. Write and publish at least 5 articles (posts).
  2. Install the Instant Articles plugin for WP plugin.
  3. In the WordPress admin, click on the “Instant Articles” menu item in the left sidebar. Follow the onscreen instructions. It will have you log into Facebook and connect to your Facebook “Page”.

The Facebook Instant Articles Review process

By this point, you should have submitted your feed to Facebook. You can see the status of your feed by doing the following:

  1. Log into your Facebook account.
  2. Click on the arrow in the top right, and then click on your page.
  3. In the bar across the top, click on “Publishing Tools”.
  4. In the left hand menu, under Instant Articles, click on “Configuration”.

Now in the middle of the screen you should be able to see a three step process, with the following steps.

  • Step 1: Set Up Instant Articles – This should already be completed.
  • Step 2: Submit for Review – There may be a button here asking you to submit. If so, you can go ahead and click it.
  • Step 3: Start Publishing Instant Articles – We’ll get to this in a bit.

Getting Approved

After submitting your feed for review (step 2 above), you will need to check back periodically to see if you’ve been approved (at this point you don’t receive a notification but they will probably add this eventually). Note: It can take 1-3 business days before your feed is reviewed and its status is updated.

Once your status is updated, it will either show that there are issues or, if you really nailed it, you will see the following:

When we submitted the feed for the AdPlugg blog, we came back one day later and there was a message indicating that there was an issue with our feed. The issue was related to our use of WordPress Smilies. Facebook didn’t know what to do with these. Since they weren’t important, we just removed them. If Facebook rejects your submission based on something that you need to keep, you can keep them or omit them (from the feed only) by defining a Transformer Rule.

If you have issues, fix them, press the resubmit button and wait again for approval.

Check Your Articles

Once you have been approved, you can publish your articles. First however, it’s a good idea to review them using the Facebook Pages Manager app. The Facebook Pages Manager app is available for iOS and Android. Just search for “Facebook Pages Manager” inside the App Store or Google Play and you should be able to find it pretty quickly.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the Facebook Pages Manager app, do the following to check your articles:

  1. Open the Facebook Pages Manager app on your iOS or Android device (note: if you have the regular Facebook app, you should automatically be logged in).
  2. Click the ellipses (three dots) icon in the bottom right.
  3. Scroll down and under “SECTIONS”, click on “Instant Articles”. From there you should be able to see all of your instant articles. Click into them to review each one individually.

Publish Your Articles

If everything looks good, follow the below steps to publish your articles:

  1. Log into your Facebook account.
  2. Click on the arrow in the top right, and then click on your page.
  3. In the bar across the top, click on “Publishing Tools”.
  4. In the left hand menu, under Instant Articles, click on “Production Articles”.
  5. Click the checkbox next to the articles that you want to publish or click the checkbox in the header row to publish all articles.
  6. In the Actions drop down menu, click Publish.

Conclusion

That’s it. You should now have articles published to Facebook Instant Articles.

Please see our Facebook Instant Article Ads post if you want to include ads in your instant articles.

For more information regarding the Facebook Instant Article review process, check out the official docs from Facebook here.

Have a question or see something that we missed? Please post to the comments section below.

Facebook Instant Article Ads – For Any Site

fbia-ads-for-any-site

In this post I’ll be explaining how to place your own ads into Facebook Instant Articles (FBIA) regardless of what kind of website you have. Back in April of last year, AdPlugg launched its support for Facebook Instant Articles (read more here: Facebook Instant Article Ads). In that post, we explained how to place AdPlugg ads into your Facebook Instant Articles feed but the post primarily focused on WordPress.

In this post, I’m going to explain how to insert AdPlugg ads into the FBIA feed for any site (regardless of language, platform, etc).

Note: if your site runs on WordPress, I’d recommend following the instructions in the previous post instead of using the instructions here.

How Facebook Instant Articles Works

First a little background – you need to have a decent understanding of how Facebook Instant Articles works in order to start tackling things like inserting ads.

Facebook Instant Articles is pretty much just a feed reader. You publish a Facebook Instant Articles feed on your website (at say /feed/instant-articles) and Facebook reads the feed and displays the contents to the user from within the Facebook mobile app. Rather than having to leave the app to go to your website, your article’s content (text, images, etc) is shown to the user using the FBIA reader. Because this means the user never goes to your site, Facebook allows publishers to include ads in their feed (in addition to text, images and other standard content items).

Creating A Facebook Instant Articles Feed

Creating a FBIA feed is going to vary depending on what platform your site is built on. The main reason why our previous post was based around WordPress was because there is a WordPress plugin that creates a FBIA feed for you. We integrated our WordPress Ad Plugin with the Facebook Instant Articles for WP plugin and that made the whole setup pretty simple.

If you aren’t on WordPress, how you create your Facebook Instant Articles feed is going to vary. If you have a custom made site, you may have to custom code your Facebook Instant Articles feed. If you use a CMS other than WordPress (Joomla, Drupal, etc), there may be a plugin available that generates a Facebook Instant Articles feed for you.

Notes

If you have info on how to create Facebook Instant Articles feeds for other platforms, please post the info to the comment section below to help other readers.

If you plan to program the feed yourself for a custom built site, the official docs from Facebook are the best place to start.

If your site is built on PHP, Facebook has a FBIA SDK for PHP that they’ve published to github.

Set up Your AdPlugg Account

So now we’ll assume that you have a feed. Before you can serve ads into your feed, you are going to need to have some ads set up to serve. I’m going to breeze over this here, as its beyond the scope of the article, but you should do the following:

Placing AdPlugg Ads Into Your Feed

So now you have a Facebook Instant Articles feed, an AdPlugg account, an AdPlugg Zone, an AdPlugg Ad and you’ve targeted your Ad to your Zone – to have the ad show in your feed, you would simply add the following tag to the header of each article:


  <figure class="op-ad">
    <iframe 
      src="https://www.adplugg.com/serve/<your access code>/html/1.1/index.html?zn=fb_zone_1"
      height="250" 
      width="300"
    ></iframe>
  </figure>

Change the access code, zone name and sizes in the code above to match your account and requirements.

To troubleshoot, make sure that the iframe src that you are trying to load works. You should be able to put the src url right into a browser and your ad should appear. If it doesn’t, check your url and your AdPlugg settings.

Example

You can use the feed from this blog as an example of what a finished feed would look like. You can see the AdPlugg Blog’s Facebook Instant Articles feed here.

Tip: search the feed for the phrase “op-ad” to see where the ad tags were inserted.

More Info

For more info regarding how to place ads into you Facebook Instant Articles feed, you should check out the official documentation from Facebook. As you read, you’ll likely discover just how powerful combining AdPlugg with Facebook Instant Articles is.

Have questions, comments or need help? Post to the comments section below or feel free to contact us.

FBIA: 5 Benefits and 3 Negatives

fbia

FBIA (Facebook Instant Articles) is a new system from Facebook that offers publishers a number of benefits over traditional mobile browsing. But there are also some negative aspects to it. In this blog post, we are going to be going over the 5 key benefits of FBIA. We’ll also be presenting the 3 primary negative aspects of FBIA.

These benefits and negative aspects are all from the publisher’s perspective. AdPlugg integrates with FBIA and we’ve talked with a large number of publishers about their experiences and concerns with the platform. This has given us a great deal of insight into the pros and cons that publishers are weighing when making a decision as to how to proceed with the FBIA platform.

Benefits

Benefit 1: Increased Traffic

Articles that are served by FBIA have a little lightning bolt shown over their featured image (see the image above for an example of what it looks like). As users get more familiar with the benefits of FBIA, they may start to notice (and watch for) the lightning bolt. Articles with the lightning bolt will likely get more clicks and reads over time as the user will know that the article will provide them with a fast and consistent experience (as described below).

Benefit 2: Faster User Experience

FBIA is up to 10 times faster than mobile web browsing. FBIA is faster because the content is shown in the Facebook app without having to load and render your whole website. FBIA also caches and pre-loads your article’s content. You can learn more about FBIA speed in our recent post Why Is Facebook Instant Articles Faster?. By providing your users with a faster user experience, they will be more likely to read your articles. This goes along with Benefit 1 above – articles that have the lightning bolt will be known by the user to be faster.

Benefit 3: Better User Experience

For many users, articles served by FBIA provide a better user experience. This is in part due to their speed (as mentioned above) but also is due to the article being presented in a familiar interface that is simple and easy to navigate. Facebook Instant Articles allows publishers to “brand” the presentation with their logo, colors, etc but the navigation, etc remain consistent across all publishers. This is in sharp contrast to articles that go to a third-party site that might have unusual navigation, issues with the user’s device, etc.

In regards to advertising, Facebook limits the ad density of the article and restricts ads from popping up and doing things that some users might find annoying. While this may have negative effects for the publisher (see below), it results in a more consistent experience for the user.

Again, as users become more familiar with the lightning bolt – they will recognize it as a symbol of a consistent, simple, and familiar user experience.

Benefit 4: Lower Hosting Costs

FBIA works like an RSS feed reader. Instead of each user accessing your website – resulting in the download of html, css, js, images, etc – FBIA just pulls your article content and images from your feed. Often the content is only pulled once per article instead of potentially millions of times (once for each reader). This results in a much lower hosting cost for the publisher as you have considerably less data and files to serve.

Benefit 5: Improved Availability

Facebook has a massive infrastructure and a huge team of engineers working 24/7 to ensure that their systems are up and available. If your site goes down on a Saturday night, how long will it take to get it back up? How many engineers do you have working on Saturday nights? With Facebook’s reported 99.9% uptime, your articles will likely have better availability on FBIA.

Negative Aspects

While there are a lot of benefits for publishers that use FBIA, there are also some negative aspects.

Negative 1: No Third Party Ad Network Ads

FBIA offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to advertising with one major caveat: FBIA only allows you to serve network ads from the Facebook Audience Network. So while you can use a service like AdPlugg to serve your own directly sold ads, you can’t serve ads from a third party ad network such as Google AdSense into your FBIA feed. For publishers already selling ad space directly to advertisers, this may not be a big deal. However, if you rely on third party ad networks, this could be a major hangup for you. You can read more about what kinds of ads you are allowed to serve into your FBIA feed on the FBIA Terms of Service page.

Negative 2: Ad Density and Format Restrictions

As mentioned above, Facebook restricts the number of ads and the format of ads that can be served into Facebook Instant Articles. While this can result in a better experience for the user, it can have negative ramifications for the publisher. By limiting the number of ads that you can serve, publishers may take a hit in how much revenue they can generate per article.

Some ad formats perform better than others. And because of this, publishers are able to charge a premium for the high performing formats. By not allowing high performing formats such as popup ads (which have been proven to have above an average click through rate), publishers are going to be again put into a situation where they can no longer earn as much per article.

Negative 3: Decreased User Engagement

When a user reads an article via FBIA they never actually visit your website. While there are advantages to this for both you and the user (as mentioned above) this also results in some negatives in terms of user engagement. You never get a chance to present your site as an entity unto its own (beyond a source of Facebook content) to the user. You also never get a chance to get the user to subscribe to your newsletter and do other things that would be typical if the user were to visit your website.

Conclusion

When deciding “Should I use Facebook Instant Articles” the publisher needs to weigh the pros and cons. This article should help serve as a good reference and starting point for what the major benefits and negative aspects of FBIA are.

Have a benefit or negative aspect of FBIA that we’ve missed, please post it to the comments sections below.

Why Is Facebook Instant Articles Faster?

facebook_instant_articles_10x_faster
Facebook Instant Articles is a new feature built into the Facebook mobile app. It allows users to view articles from third party sources at blazingly fast speeds. But how can that be? What makes Facebook Instant Articles faster?

With the launch of Instant Articles, Facebook claimed that Instant Articles load 10 times as fast as mobile web content, thereby creating a better user experience.

The Wall Street Journal reported that, according to tests done by Catchpoint Systems, Facebook’s claim held true: the average load time for Instant Articles was between 0 and 300 milliseconds, compared with 3.66 seconds for similar articles on news publishers’ websites.

So how does it work? What makes Facebook Instant Articles so fast?

Traditionally when you clicked an article posted to Facebook (from inside the Facebook app), you would be taken to the publisher’s website. This would require opening a mobile browser and then bringing down and rendering all of the content necessary to load the publisher’s site, this includes:

  1. The site’s CSS and styling
  2. Any JavaScript necessary to render and use the site
  3. Any images for the site’s user interface
  4. The article content
  5. The article’s images

Facebook Instant Articles eliminates the need to download and render numbers 1 through 3 in the above list. What happens is, Facebook Instant Articles retrieves the article content and article images using what is very similar to a traditional RSS feed. It then renders the article content within the Facebook app.

The article content and images are really all that is needed for reading the article but the traditional method requires that tons of other user interface data come down with it.

Less to Download

So Facebook Instant Articles needs to download significantly fewer assets – and the assets that it does need to download (article content and images), are some of the smallest of the full set needed to render the article in a browser.

Less to Render

Since the article is being displayed in Facebook app, you don’t need to render complicated web layouts, navigation, etc in order to view it. The Facebook app can just render the article content and images within the Instant Articles reader and you can start reading.

Pre-Loading

Facebook Instant Articles preloads articles. Instead of waiting until you’ve clicked a link, the Facebook app will preload the start of each article before you’ve even reached it in your news feed. This way, the article can be shown almost “instantly” after you’ve clicked the link (and hence the name “Instant Articles”).

The Downside?

The downside that publishers are concerned about is that the user is never actually taken to the publisher’s site. The main reason why publishers want this is for advertising. Facebook has addressed this concern by allowing publishers to continue to serve their own ads within their Facebook Instant Articles. And you guessed it, AdPlugg integrates with Instant Articles! Check out our post about Facebook Instant Article Ads to learn more.

Have a question, or something to contribute, let us know in the comment section below.