Facebook has been in talks with news organisations for over a year on a new feature capable of showing articles in the news feed, instead of simply linking the article.
The argument made by Facebook is it takes 8 seconds (on average) to load an article from Facebook. This is too long for mobile users, putting a lot of them off actually reading the article - it also isn’t a seamless move from Facebook to the article - normally sending them to the web browser or asking to download the mobile app.
To rectify this issue, Facebook wants to add news articles on the feed. It is talking to The New York Times, Buzzfeed, National Geographic and several other prominent outlets for a first batch of news partners.
Facebook would offer a paid partnership between the news org, although the details of this revenue split are not public. Engagement on articles would most likely increase, at least this is the sales pitch Facebook are using to win over news orgs.
Even though Facebook is an excellent source of traffic for many sites, it is also worrisome that the social networks wants control over the interface for news. Unlike Google News - where snippets are provided with links - Facebook would want the user to read the whole article on the website or app.
The risk of losing ad-revenue might not be worth the increase in engagement and traffic, but some news orgs are apparently starting to work with Facebook, especially The New York Times who are deep into talks on the financials.
No word on if Facebook will allow subscription sites to participate. Considering The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times are not listed in the shortlist, we suspect Facebook is looking for ad-revenue only sites first.
There is no timeline for when this feature will be launched, but Facebook is clearly focused on bringing the news to the feed. Even though big news orgs are being contacted first, it is highly likely Facebook will roll this out to smaller establishments in the near future.