Facebook brings Instant Articles to Canada, Android users

Facebook Inc.‘s mobile users can get their first taste of Canadian content through the social networking giant’s Instant Articles service today – provided they speak French.

Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec have become the first Canadian media outlets to launch content through Instant Articles, which allows users to load content from their news feeds as quickly as videos and pictures by inviting publishers to store their material on Facebook’s servers.

Taking advantage of the company’s current status as one of the largest sources of news traffic online, Facebook launched Instant Articles for American users in May, for iPhone users, including Canadians, in October, and for Android users around the world today.

While some 100 American websites have signed up with Instant Articles since its launch, including the New York Times, BuzzFeed, BBC News, the Guardian, and the Atlantic, Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec are the first Canadian publications to choose from, though Anglophone Canadians will have access to several Rogers Media brands, including Chatelaine, Maclean’s, and Sportsnet, before the end of the year, while other well-known English-language publications, including the Canadian Press, Global News, the Globe and Mail, Postmedia Network, and the Toronto Star will join them in early 2016.

“Expanding Instant Articles to Canada, starting with Le Journal de Montréal and Le Journal de Québec… is a significant milestone for the product” Facebook’s director of global media partnerships, Andy Mitchell, said in a Dec. 16 statement. “Instant Articles has been designed with extensive feedback from publishers, and we’re excited to bring this collaboration to our publishing partners in Canada to help them distribute fast, interactive articles to their readers in the Facebook app.”

Central to the Instant Articles experience is its seamlessness for readers, except for the lightning bolt next to compatible headlines. Each Instant Article is associated with the URL on the original publisher’s website, which means that if a news feed link doesn’t have an associated Instant Article, it will open in the user’s web browser, like most shared articles today. This also makes it easy for publishers to use Instant Articles without changing their publishing schedule, Facebook says.

Of course, behind each new development lies the opportunity for more revenue, and on its developer website Facebook emphasizes the control Instant Articles will give publishers over their stories, including whether they sell ads in the articles themselves and keep the revenue (a feature that did not start out well), or use Facebook’s Audience Network to support their efforts. Publishers will also be able to track data and traffic through their current analytics tools.

Whether the Canadian media will join its American counterpart in publishing the “thousands of Instant Articles” mentioned in Facebook’s launch announcement, however, remains to be seen.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of ITBusiness.ca turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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