Facebook Instant Articles and the fight over how many ads per words you should see

The first 20 publishers taking part in Facebook’s Instant Articles program are struggling to make as much revenue from each article. Facebook imposes a number of App-Store-like rules on these articles, but among them:

That’s because of the strict guidelines Facebook has laid down on the type and volume of ads publishers are allowed to sell. For example, the guidelines state that just one “large banner” ad sized 320 x 250 pixels may be included for every 500 words of content. On their own mobile properties, publishers such as The Washington Post would typically include three or perhaps four of those ads alongside a 500-word article.

Think about that: large publishers want to show up to three to four ads per 500 words. And they wonder why ad blockers are a thing. 

Plus, with the rise of ad blocking, I wonder whether Instant Articles will gain any traction. Later in the article, Facebook states it is experimenting with changing or loosening some of these restrictions, including the ads per article rule.

I haven’t sought out Instant Articles, although, despite Liking many of the participating publishers, I also haven’t seen one since the launch. But once readers who are angry about the current state of abusive, invansive web advertising pick up on this, will they keep reading in Facebook? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they bounce out to their browser with an ad blocker, or perhaps worse, just skip these publishers entirely.