Facebook Instant Articles: 5 Things You Need to Know

Facebook Instant Articles Infographic
Facebook Instant Articles is a new feature for web publishers from Facebook. Here’s a run down of the 5 things that you need to know.

1. Shows Articles Within the Facebook Mobile App

Traditionally, when a user clicked an article that you posted to your Facebook page, they would go to your website to view the article. With Facebook Instant Articles, when a user clicks on one of your articles from within the Facebook Mobile App, they are shown the article within the Facebook Mobile App.

Key Points

  • Works on iPhone and Android devices.
  • Is seemless for users
  • Is up to 10 times faster than content served through a mobile browser (Facebook accomplishes this by buffering the content before the user clicks it and by not having to render your site, just the article content).
  • The Facebook App shows a small lightning bolt icon in the top right of the article’s featured image if the article is available via Instant Articles.
  • Desktop and browser (non app) users will continue to be directed to your website.

2. Requires your Site to Have a Custom Feed

Rather than submitting your articles to Facebook, with Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook will regularly pull your feed and automatically add new articles to your Facebook page.

Key Points

  • Facebook pulls from your feed, you no longer need to push your articles to Facebook
  • The Instant Articles Feed format is based on RSS but requires certain non-standard elements (a standard RSS feed won’t work).

3. There’s a WordPress Plugin For It!

A couple of weeks ago (March 7th, 2016), Automattic, the makers of WordPress launched a new Plugin called Facebook Instant Articles for WP. This plugin adds a special feed at /feed/instant-articles. You can submit this feed “endpoint” to Facebook when you enroll in Facebook’s Instant Articles program.

Key Points

  • You will need to install a special plugin (such as Facebook Instant Articles for WP) to add Facebook Instant Article support to your WordPress site.
  • Other CMS systems will likely have their own Facebook Instant Articles plugins. If you have any info about these, please post it to the comment section below.

4. Allows You to Serve Your Own Ads

Facebook wants to make Instant Articles a win for Facebook, its mobile app users and for the publishers generating the content. For this reason, they allow you to include your own ads within your feed.

Key Points

  • You can serve your own ads within the articles that you submit to Facebook Instant Articles.
  • Ads need to be submitted through your Instant Articles feed in a special format.
  • You can distribute your ad “tags” manually throughout your feed content or place your ad tags in the header to have Facebook place them throughout the article automatically.
  • AdPlugg is currently adding support for Facebook Instant Article feeds and intends to fully support them by the time Facebook launches the feature (see below for the release date).
  • If you don’t have your own ads, you can optionally choose to serve Facebook Audience Network ads within your articles.
  • There are some restrictions regarding the type of ad and the “ad density” (number of ads that you can display). See the official documentation for more info.
  • Some of the publishers already using Facebook Instant Articles have complained about ad revenue issues. Facebook is working to address those concerns.

5. Becomes available to all publishers on Apr 12th, 2016

Facebook Instant Articles is already in use by major publishers such as BuzzFeed and the Washington Post. On April 12th, 2016 Facebook Instant Articles becomes available to all publishers.

Key Points

  • Was launched for select major publishers on May 12th, 2015
  • Launch for all publishers is scheduled for April 12th, 2016

How To Try Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles Screenshot
To try out Facebook Instant Articles, do the following:

  • Open the Facebook app on your Android or iOS device.
  • Use the built in search to find and pull the official page for BuzzFeed or the Washington Post.
  • Click on any of the articles that have a lightning bolt in the top right corner of the article’s featured image.
  • Enjoy the lightning fast load time :).

Conclusion

Facebook Instant Articles is an exciting new feature that provides an enhanced experience for the user while allowing publishers to gain exposure and grow ad revenues.

AdPlugg is adding support for Facebook Instant Articles as we speak and we are tying the functionality into our WordPress Ad Plugin.

If you have any questions or comments about Facebook Instant Articles, AdPlugg’s support for them, or anything else; please post them to to the comments section below!


Infographic template design by Freepik.

AdPlugg Scales!

AdPlugg ScalesAdPlugg has been growing like crazy. We now serve millions of ads every day and have thousands of customers who use the service. We’ve regularly been upgrading servers and our backend software to handle the increased load.

AdPlugg uses highly scalable cloud servers and CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to make this all possible.

In addition to more customers in general, we’ve also added a number of larger and more high profile accounts. This includes the websites of some well known magazines, radio stations, tv stations and newspapers. Some of the more well known ones include the Fiesta Bowl, Wine Enthusiast and the BC Heights (the Student newspaper of Boston College).

As well as scaling up our backend systems to handle the increased load, we just released a number of new enhancements to our front end Ad Manager that make the user interface easier to use for large sites and accounts with complex configurations and a large number of ads.

We’ve added the ability to scroll through the list of ads when choosing your ads for your charts and reports. This feature turns on when you have more than 10 ads so that the list is easier to navigate.

We’ve added the ability to sort, search and filter the Ad, Placement and Zone lists. In addition, we added additional columns to each of these lists so that you can see things like which Placement an Ad is targeted to without opening the Ad.

Sortable

Each list now has a number of sortable columns. The ones that are sortable have blue links in the header row at the top of the list. Simply click the header to sort the list by the entries in the column. Click the list again to sort the list in reverse order. Click the list a third time to stop sorting by the column. If the column is a text column, it will be sorted alphabetically. If it is a number column, it will be sorted in numerical order.

Searchable

The search allows you to enter in any text and the list will be restricted to entries that mach that text. The text that is matched could be from any of the columns.

Filterable

We’ve also added a number of filters for each list. The filters allow you to restrict the entries shown in the list to entries matching the specific filter. For instance you can filter the results to only show active or inactive ads. You can also use a filter to only show ads that target a particular Placement or Zone. This way you can quickly see just the ads that target your top bar for example.

These features were designed to make AdPlugg even easier to use. Have any ideas for other features that we could add or how we could make these features better? Please post them into the comments section below.

WordPress AdSense: The Ultimate How-To

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Making sense of AdSense on WordPress

In this blog post we are going to talk about how to use AdSense with WordPress. We’ll go though what options are available, best practices and more.

Ad What? Word Who?

WordPress is the largest CMS (Content Management System)/blogging platform in the world and is used by more than 60 million websites. AdSense is Google’s advertising system for publishers allowing publishers to place google ads on their sites. It’s estimated that over 1.5 million sites use Google AdSense.

Getting Started with WordPress

WordPress is totally free and setting up a WordPress site is incredibly simple at this point. The easiest way to do it is to get a free hosting account from a host such as GoDaddy or BlueHost. Once you have your hosting account, both of these hosts have automated systems for installing WordPress into your account.

Getting Started with AdSense

Getting set up with AdSense is a bit more complicated. The first step is to sign up for an AdSense account. The steps are pretty straight forward so I’ll just give you an overview here (For more info, see the AdSense Help). This is what you do:

  • Go to the AdSense Signup page.
  • Sign in (using your existing Google Account) or create a new account. Tip: if you have an account with your domain in it (ex: bob@yourblog.com) using it can speed up the approval process.
  • You will then need to fill out info about your self, site, business etc.
  • Lastly you will need to agree to the AdSense Terms of Service.

Once you have finished the signup process, you will be given access to your new AdSense account. You may not however be approved yet. The AdSense approval process can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of months depending on your site, geographic location and application info. Again, using a domain specific email address can speed up the process.

Once you’ve completed the signup process you can start placing ads on your site. They won’t however start to show until you’re account has been approved and activated.

WordPress AdSense Integration

WordPress AdSense integration can be done in a number of different ways. Basically the goal is to place the ad tags that you receive from AdSense on the front end of your WordPress site. Once your account is approved, AdSense will automatically inject ads into the tags. These are the most common ways to add AdSense tags into your WordPress site:

  • Serve them with AdPlugg or other AdSense compatible WordPress plugins
  • Add the tags into a Text Widget
  • Add the tags into your WordPress theme

Note: we plan to go into these options in more detail in a follow-on post.

Once the ad tags are serving to your site (they will be invisible at first), Google will review your site and hopefully approve it. Once approved, you will start to see ads on your site.

If you have any questions or have something to add, please use the comment section below.

Responsive Ads

responsive_ads
Last month we launched a whole slew of new ad formats. Mixed in among text ads, flash ads etc, were a number of responsive ad formats. In this blog post we are going to discuss these new responsive ad formats and how the web’s move to responsive is shaping online advertising now and into the future.

Responsive web design is a style of web design where the elements on the page are automatically resized to optimally fit different sized devices. Basically, the layout “responds” to the size of the device that it is being displayed on. Responsive design has been a significant trend over the last couple of years but was solidified when Google started including it as a ranking factor back in April of this year. This meant that if a site wasn’t responsive, Google was less likely to send traffic to it. This was a good move by Google because non-responsive websites are frustrating at best and totally unusable at worst on many devices.

Responsive web design has only just begun to penetrate the nearly two decade old standards for online advertising. Ads have always been based on fixed sizes, for example 300px by 250px. Fixed sizes however have little to no place in responsive web design. Text that is legible at 300px on a desktop computer may be totally illegible when scaled down to fit on a phone. One of the most important parts of responsive design is the resizing of text so that it is legible on all devices.

AdPlugg has addressed these issues with its new suite of responsive ad formats. Each responsive ad is designed to resize itself (and its text) for optimal display on devices of varying size. AdPlugg’s new responsive ad formats include:

  • Bar Ads – Bar ads can be displayed as a bar across the top or bottom of a page. Though they are especially well suited for mobile devices, they look great on full size screens too. View the Bar Ads demo.
  • Dialog Ads – Dialog ads are a modern responsive version of the “popup ad”. Much more stylish than its predecessor, and designed to perfectly fit any screen, this new format converts at high rates. View the Dialog Ads demo.
  • Slide-In Ads – Slide in ads are a responsive ad format where the message slides into view. They are made to slide in based on varying triggers and can slide in from any of the four corners of the screen. View the Slide In Ads demo.
  • Interstitial Ads – Interstitial ads are displayed before the page content is displayed and are designed to cover the entire screen. AdPlugg’s responsive interstitial ads perfectly cover, and look great, on any size screen. View the Interstitial Ads demo.
  • Responsive HTML5 Ads – The AdPlugg Custom ad format allows you to insert custom HTML/HTML5, JavaScript, CSS/CSS3, SVG etc. Using responsive techniques in your ad design, you can make your ad resize to look great on any screen size. View the Responsive HTML5 Ads demo.

There will surely be a lot of changes ahead as the web and online ads move into a more responsive and mobile friendly future. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Timed Rotate Feature Added

timed rotate

You asked for it you got it! We just added a new timed rotate feature. The timed rotate feature allows you to set your ads to rotate after a specified number of seconds.

Adding a timed rotate feature had become the highest ranked suggestion on our Feedback and Ideas Forum. Adhering to our Democratic Design principles, we’ve made it a top priority and are excited to be releasing it to you today!

How it Works

The timed rotate feature works basically the same as our other rotate configurations but with timed rotate, the ads rotate after a set number of seconds instead of on page refresh. Only the ads set to “timed rotate” will rotate, any other ads will stay put. The newly displayed ads will have their impressions tracked the same as if they were loaded after a refresh.

How to Set it Up

If you haven’t already done so, set up the ad rotator. In the placement settings you will see that we’ve added a new field called “Rotation Interval”. It’s under the “Content” heading. If this field is blank (the default), the ads are only rotated on refresh. To enable timed rotate, simply enter a number into this field. The number is the number of seconds that you want the rotator to wait before rotating the ads. The number can include decimals, so you could set your ads to rotate every 3.5 seconds, for instance. The minimum interval allowed is 1 second.

Please note that this function can dramatically increase your impression counts (and your bill) so use caution when enabling it and do carefully consider which ads you want to rotate and at what interval.

We hope that you enjoy the new feature. Please add any questions or comments about the feature to the comment section below.

If you don’t already have an AdPlugg account, Sign Up today and try out this awesome new feature!