Last week, we reported on Facebook’s Instant Articles, the newest product in its relentless chase after digital publishers. Now officially launched, it serves as a mobile-only content initiative, designed to get partnered publishers to get their content hosted natively on Facebook’s servers so as to eliminate the long wait for in-app browser to open. Among the first batch of publishers signed on are prestigious news outlets such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, BBC News and BuzzFeed, all seemingly eager to try out the glossy, mobile-friendly new format and speed this new feature brings.
In related news, Facebook started to test its own in-app, in-house search engine earlier last week. Selected users have discovered a new feature that allows them to easily search and add links that are already shared on Facebook, directly to their posts and comments. Although not necessarily trying to take over Google’s business, this new development, combined with the launch of Instant Articles, all point to Facebook’s ambitious plan to turn its social network platform into a closed-off mobile ecosystem for digital content. In fact, Facebook is on track to pass Google in incremental ad dollars, according to a Morgan Stanley analyst.
If such trend continues, we might soon be seeing a version of The Internet, as presented by Facebook. Therefore, it is important for media owners and brands alike to at least to try out Facebook’s offerings first to see if its platform works for their specific purposes.
Update 5/15/2014: Smaller publications, including local news sources, will reportedly have an opportunity to try Instant Articles for themselves soon.