The move is targeted to decrease load times for articles hosted externally, with The Wall Street Journal report stating that links shared on Facebook take around eight seconds to load on mobile devices:
Many publishers now post links to their content on Facebook, which has become an important source of online traffic for news sites. But opening those links on a mobile device can be slow and frustrating, taking around eight seconds.
The Facebook initiative, dubbed Instant Articles, is aimed at speeding that process, people familiar with the matter said. Facebook plans to start hosting news and videos from BuzzFeed, The New York Times, National Geographic and other publishers as early as this month, those people said.
The social networking giant is also going to make changes to its revenue-sharing model to incentivize publishers to host their content on Facebook:
In one of the models under consideration, publishers would keep all of the revenue from ads they sell on Facebook-hosted news sites, the people familiar with the matter said. If Facebook sells the advertisement, it would keep roughly 30% of the revenue, as it does in many other cases.
By hosting content directly on its website, Facebook stands to boost its user engagement numbers as readers that would normally head to an external link will now spend more time on the social network. According to The Wall Street Journal, the list of launch partners is yet to be finalized, and should the deals not materialize shortly, the launch of Instant Articles will be pushed back to a later date. The website also noted that publishers were wary of handing over their content to the social network:
"It's not just about the bottom line," said an executive of one publisher that has had discussions with Facebook. "Publishers will still want to defend other aspects of the business."