Facebook started as a small social network, and has now grown into a multibillion user company that has dipped its feet into many fields. Facebook has invested in internet access by drones, has bought large social networks (Instagram and Whatsapp), and has even bought companies that are spearheading the development of new technologies (Oculus).
On the surface, it looks like Facebook has no end goal, but when you consider everything that Facebook has done till now, it is clear that Facebook indeed has one all encompassing goal: To keep users within its ecosystem. Think about it: Some of the largest social networks are owned by Facebook, and Facebook’s free internet access initiative allows access to only a few sites and only one social network: Facebook.
Now, Facebook’s Android app has been updated, enabling anyone with an Android phone to access the company’s new Instant Articles. For the uninitiated, Instant Articles are Facebook’s strategy for keeping users in its ecosystem. Basically, publishers sign up with Facebook to get their content in the form of Instant Articles, which load much faster than traditional webpages due to optimizations by Facebook.
In exchange for getting their content on Facebook, the publishers get a cut of Facebook’s ad revenue from the articles. While this seems quite significant, due to Facebook’s sheer size, this means that Facebook now has considerably control over online publishers.
Now that Facebook has got articles that will load as soon as you tap the link, Facebook users never need to leave Facebook’s ecosystem. Users will choose Instant Articles over slow webpages, and these Instant Articles reside within Facebook.
This move undermines Google’s position as safekeeper of the Internet (Since its search engine is the defacto driver of new traffic). However, Google will soon announce its own take on Instant Articles. It would be interesting to see who emerges victorious in this battle, since both companies are largely dependent on ad-revenue, and any disruptions could send them scurrying towards finding new monetization strategies.
What do you think? Can Facebook’s Instant Articles disrupt the status quo?