Facebook’s Uphill Battle To Win Back Publishers

Facebook product managers gathered about a dozen news publishers at the company’s New York office two weeks ago to unveil potential changes to Instant Articles, the nearly-two-year-old program aimed at making news articles load faster on the social network. The roadmap, including giving publishers more ways to track reader habits and to get readers to sign up for text and email alerts, is aimed at making the program more appealing to publishers. One change, increasing frequency of ads in articles, was announced on Thursday and will start next week.

Many news firms, though, remain skeptical.

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Even publishers resisting Instant Articles, like Mr. Wilson, praise Facebook’s display of openness and collaboration with news organizations, which have included hackathons and workshops.

—Tom Dotan contributed to this story

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Phillip Smith, Henrik Ståhl and 1 other commented on this article.
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Facebook is “looking at Instant and saying, ‘what’s the evolution of the product?’ It’s a little stagnant in certain areas, and there’s more saturation in this product ecosystem of super-fast stories. Publishers have all evolved.”