The Guardian has abandoned its trails with Facebook’s Instant Articles service after the newspaper’s chief executive, David Pemsel, suggested that the financial returns were “woeful”.
The Guardian has also pulled out of trials with Apple News – a similar service which re-packages news content for Apple devices. Facebook’s Instant Articles enables publishers to upload content directly to the social network in exchange for a share of advertising revenue. The service, which promises to load content much faster than external links, means users stay in Facebook’s environment, limiting publishers in their attempts to furtherly commercially exploit online traffic.
The Guardian believes it can make more money by serving ads on its own content as well as publishing its membership scheme.
A spokesperson for The Guardian told journalists: “We have run extensive trials on Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News to assess how they fit with our editorial and commercial objectives.
“Having evaluated these trials, we have decided to stop publishing in those formats on both platforms.
“Our primary objective is to bring audiences to the trusted environment of the Guardian to support building deeper relationships with our readers, and growing membership and contributions to fund our world-class journalism.”
Most newspaper publishers accept that they must get into bed with Facebook in one way or the other in their efforts to drive traffic to their sites and generate revenue. However, many newspaper publishers are painfully aware that despite increased web traffic their share of online advertising revenues continues to drop. This is especially true in the regional and local newspaper sectors.
The Press Gazette suggests that while traffic to local sites has increased recently by upwards of 40 percent, online advertising revenues have actually fallen by just over 3.4 percent.
While The Guardian is not satisfied with the current revenues it generates via Facebook Instant Articles, you have to wonder if online advertising trends continue to develop in Facebook’s favour? Or will Facebook be one of a limited number of options for publishers to commercially exploit their content?