Facebook has rolled out Instant Articles in India on Monday. It has announced its India-based publishing partners—India Today, The Quint, Aajtak, Hindustan Times and The Indian Express.
“We at FB are really excited to be rolling out Instant article in India on Monday. We are working with the publisher ecosystem that is varied and are excited to see how this product will resonate with people on Facebook and publishers in India,” said Andy Mitchel, Director, News and Global Media Partnerships, Facebook.
“We will continue to invest into making Instant Articles a great experience for both audiences and publishing partners. We have been live in USA and EU on IOS and just started initial roll out on android and therefore it is perfect timing for us to launch in India,” he pointed out.
“IA is a product for markets with less connectivity, markets like India which have limited/ less consistent connectivity and people face issues while loading mobile content.
“Germ of the idea is to enhance people’s experience on Facebook to read articles and to solve problem of people consuming content on Facebook due to limited or slow connectivity in emerging markets which present great opportunity,” he said.
In an exclusive interaction with exchange4media, Andy Mitchel and Michael Reckhow, Product Manager for Instant Articles, Facebook, shared key India-specific insights on the product. Excerpts:
What are your plans for India?
Andy Mitchel: Reception has been very encouraging in the long term prospects; we have very high quality publishers and representation across publishing categories. We will start with initial test and then roll out to more publishers in the coming month as we scale up.
The plan is to be available to all publishers and for them come onboard and therefore we have a lot of work to do now in order to have more publishers join and scale and build a platform for the publishing ecosystem.
What are the challenges you feel you will face in a market like India?
Michael Reckhow: The goal is to make it easier for people to read articles on Facebook especially for people who are on 2G connections as Instant Article will significantly reduce the time to load articles. Important therefore to roll out on Android as many people are on this platform in counties like India and therefore make reading articles on mobile a better experience.
Do you see competition in terms of market and how do you plan to work out those challenges when you come to a market like India?
Our goal is to create a platform for publishers to use it as a way to get their news out on FB and it’s a collaborative platform that offers great experience for publishers
Where does India stand in your emerging market pie? Is there a country-wise priority?
India is one of the markets that we are focused on serving and we have teams in the market working on bettering this product. India is the third market after USA and Western Europe that we are rolling out Instant article in and thus demonstrates our commitment to serve the people of India. The ambition of the product is to invite publishers to join the platform.
Please share some insights on making IA Android-ready for India.
One of the challenges publishers face on mobile, is to tell a great story on a small screen and IA is designed not only to deliver fast on Android but also offers a bunch of story- telling tools that publishers can use to make it an engaging article reading experience on mobile and publishers in India are excited to see how we are building capabilities on mobile platforms for the same. India is an android market and therefore we are rolling out IA in India on android platform.