By Varun Gupta, News Partnerships
Since launching in April 2016, Instant Articles has helped publishers across India reach new audiences. Because Instant Articles loads natively within Facebook, it’s not reliant on strong mobile connections. Indian publishers have taken advantage of this technology to attract new readers, giving them a vastly improved experience on Facebook.
As a result, more audiences have greater access to some of the country’s biggest publishers, including Indiatimes, Dainik Jagran, Hindustan Times, Sandesh, NDTV, and more. Whether it’s through sharing faster loading articles, delivering higher-quality ads, using new design tools or including high-res media, Instant Articles has improved the way that Indian publishers are engaging with their readers.
We spoke with 11 publishers, ranging from the country’s biggest papers and television stations to recently launched digital-only publications, about the results they’re seeing on the platform.
All numbers provided by the publishers and sourced from their own internal analytics and insights.
30% better scroll depth in Instant Articles compared to mobile web
40% higher clickthrough rates in direct-sold ads compared to mobile web
30% higher eCPMs using Facebook’s Audience Network
Indiatimes creates content designed to be consumed on social platforms. Wanting to get its articles to the biggest audience possible, Indiatimes signed up with Instant Articles in November, 2015 and publishes 100% of its eligible content to the platform. In addition to seeing a 70% rise in mobile traffic, the publisher has seen clickthrough rates on direct-sold ads perform 40% better when compared with the mobile web.
The publisher attributes this success to the design and placement of ads in Instant Articles, as well as fast load times. Not only are readers better able to load and consume Indiatimes articles, but its ads are more likely to be seen and engaged with. To best optimize an ad’s placement in an article, the publisher uses the automatic ad placement feature. This feature ensures each article reaches its maximum ad density and optimizes an ad’s placement to be where readers are most likely to engage with it.
“Naturally, the ability to deliver content seamlessly to our audience is an essential prerequisite to our strategy of creating ‘stories that matter to our generation.’ The quick load times and immersive storytelling features of Instant Articles help our readers engage with our content even better.” Angad Bhatia, COO, Indiatimes.com
Unique users increased by 211% and traffic increased 343% on Instant Articles between April 2016 and April 2017
350% growth in revenue from Audience Network in Instant Articles between April 2016 and April 2017
340% increase in new users to NDTV between April 2016 and April 2017
NDTV Convergence, which runs NDTV television stations and ndtv.com, has over 120 million users coming to their digital properties each month. In 2015, they signed up with Instant Articles hoping to improve overall engagement, achieve greater distribution, and improve monetization. As a result, NDTV has seen significant growth in the key segments of news and entertainment, and has performed beyond expectations in the Hindi market, where Instant Articles traffic has grown 140% since the beginning of the year.
“In mid-2015, when Facebook announced Instant Articles, we were quite interested. The platform provided a seamless experience and we were keen to provide this new experience to our readers. We have come a long way since then. Our user base on Instant Articles has increased by more than 200% in the last year. Seeing our progress, we opened up more of our portfolio to Instant Articles. The reduction in load time and the seamless transition into a company branded article has shown impact on distribution, engagement, and monetization.” Suparna Singh, CEO, NDTV Convergence
6x growth in Facebook referral traffic since adopting Instant Articles in October 2015
55% more time spent on Instant Articles compared to mobile web
HT Media, which owns and operates the digital and print editions of Hindustan Times, was founded in 1924 and now oversees the English language Hindustan Times and Hindustan, a Hindi newspaper. The publisher uses Instant Articles to improve the overall quality of images, video, and slideshows to their 3.7 million readers across India. Many readers were getting an inferior or incomplete storytelling experience because of slow load times. Not only has Instant Articles helped traffic growth, but the platform’s creative storytelling tools and high-quality media has improved brand affinity, according to the company’s chief content officer.
“Hindustan Times was one of the first news sites from India that embraced Instant Articles as part of an effort to expand HT’s digital reach and improve audience engagement. A lower page load time coupled with an enhanced audience experience, which is what Facebook Instant articles brought, helped HT significantly grow its traffic in the past year, especially among mobile consumers of news. Beyond the numbers, Instant Articles has served HT well in building brand affinity and its journalism ambitions.” Rajesh Mahapatra, Chief Content Officer, Hindustan Times
50% growth in referral traffic from Facebook since joining Instant Articles
25-30% increase in time spent and engagement vs mobile web
30-35% of Arré traffic comes from Instant Articles
Arré is a digital media publisher that tells stories across multiple digital formats and genres with a focus on arresting visuals and non-traditional narratives. Stories include everything from fictional web series to long form articles, reality shows, and documentaries. Arré places emphasis on high-quality visuals and narratives built for ease of use in a digital space. Instant Articles helped them deliver on their promise of a superior reading experience, and reach a greater audience.
“We love the user experience that Facebook Instant Articles offers our readers. At Arré, our content is a combination of short-form, long form, and multimedia content. Instant articles has transformed the user experience across all formats as it loads seamlessly on a slow connection. Some of the newer features that Instant Articles has innovated with such as the option to like the Page or subscribe to our weekly newsletter within the Instant Article format are working well for us.” Ajay Chacko, Co-Founder and CEO, Arré
250% growth in traffic from Instant Articles between April 2016 and April 2017
4x higher clickthrough rates on Audience Network ads in Instant Articles vs mobile web
More than 65,000 e-mail newsletter signups from Instant Articles between March and April 2017
ABP News Network is the largest Indian language news network in India, operating across four channels that collectively reach more than 100 million viewers weekly. Its digital properties get 40 million unique visitors each month across the languages of Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, and Gujarati. The broadcasting company launched Instant Articles for each of its languages, and recently started using the Instant Articles call-to-action units to encourage readers to sign up for their email newsletter and like their Page.
“ABP News Network started Instant Articles on Facebook on all our language pages including Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and Gujarati. From the time of launch we have seen exceptional speeds in page load times. Audience retention is also growing month on month with people repeatedly consuming content on Instant Articles. The audience has, over a one year period, grown 250%.” Ramakrishnan Laxman, Digital Head, ABP News
3x increase in clickthrough rates on ads in Instant Articles vs mobile web
Mathrubhumi started in 1923 as a publication for India’s freedom movement and is published in the language Malayalam. With 15 editions and a circulation of 1.5 million across India, the publisher uses Instant Articles to deliver a new source of revenue through Audience Network, and to give its readers a smoother content experience.
“Mathrubhumi has always set itself apart through swift and crisp content delivery. So, when Instant Articles came around with its super-fast load time and excellent UX across mobile devices, it resonated right away with us and our audience. The 3x increase in CTR on ads delivered via Instant Articles was quite the perk. Overall, as a news platform, Instant Articles and Mathrubhumi go hand in hand.” Shreyams Kumar M.V., Joint Managing Director, Mathrubhumi Group
187% increase in mobile traffic between March 2016 (month prior to starting Instant Articles) and March 2017
70% more time spent on an Instant Article vs mobile web on average
72% of all Instant Articles readers are new to Jagran
Dainik Jagran is one of the largest newspapers in India, with nearly 4 million print subscribers. The publisher started publishing Instant Articles in April, 2016 and has seen overall traffic increase 3x to nearly 13 million views a month, with Instant Articles accounting for more than half of that growth. By improving the overall quality of images, videos and slideshows and delivering a richer, more immersive storytelling experience, time spent on articles increased by 70%.
“The clean interface of Instant Articles along with rich media capabilities and quick load time is helping us to serve content to the new users on Facebook and engage them relevantly.” Bharat Gupta, Chief Marketing Officer, Jagran New Media
30% increase in overall revenue since using Instant Articles
300% increase in article completion rates vs. mobile web
Founded in July 2015, CricTracker reports on everything about cricket and has a reader base of more than 18 million. They used Instant Articles to successfully expand their reach further into both the India market, and fans of India cricket around the world.
“We at CricTracker broke all our previous records in terms of number of articles published, page views in a month, unique readers, as well as revenue. We almost touched 30 million page views a month in April and that wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t opted for allotting the major share of our articles to Instant Articles.” Syed Sujjad, CEO/Founder, Cricket Tracker Networks
27% increase in average time spent on Instant Articles compared to mobile web
40% higher ad impressions on Instant Articles than mobile web
30-40% higher eCPM on Audience Network compared to mobile web
Sandesh is a 90-year-old publisher with several regional-focused publications across India. They started using Instant Articles to improve the overall experience for users, particularly those with limited mobile connections. They quickly noticed an increase in average time spent per article, as well as improved engagement with ads. The publisher uses the automatic placement feature to help optimize where ads are placed and it’s led to greater CPMs and better ad fill than the mobile web.
“The most amazing feature about Instant Articles is the user experience. The product works seamlessly with poor internet connections and we’ve seen average time spent on articles go up.” Chirag Shah, Digital Manager, Sandesh
300% greater revenue growth in Instant Articles compared to mobile web
60% growth in overall traffic since starting to publish Instant Articles
50% lower bounce rate in Instant Articles compared to mobile web
Koimoi is one of India’s most popular Bollywood news destinations with a Facebook community of nearly 1.6 million followers. The publisher joined primarily to create a new revenue stream and increase engagement. The publisher has seen their revenue grow 3x greater in Instant Articles and readers are more likely to interact with their content as a result.
“The combination of increase in engagement and revenues is the best gift a publisher like koimoi could ask for!” Alok Kejriwal, CEO/Co-founder
5x greater CPMs on ads from Audience Network in Instant Articles compared to other ad networks
The audience for Chai Bisket, an entertainment news site, has always been tech savvy and conscious of the user experience. Their 18-30 year old readers demand the latest innovative formats, and Instant Articles helped keep the company at the front of the market. The publisher monetizes these articles using Audience Network, which provides a better experience to both users and the company overall.
“Instant Articles have been a blessing in disguise for the users in terms of the load time, the ease of consuming the content, and the way it’s designed to perfectly work on any mobile screen size. From a publisher perspective, our CPMs from the ads on Instant Articles have been performing 5x more than the other ad networks. The ease of payments from the Audience Network on Instant Articles has been fantastic. For a platform like ours where the readership to our site is majorly driven from social platforms like Facebook, Instant Articles has been of huge help!” Anurag & Sarath, Founders, Chai Bisket