TEGNA Media, which owns and operates 46 local television stations around the country, saw Instant Articles as a missing piece in its overall Facebook strategy. The company prides itself as an early Facebook adopter — using posts, comments, video and Live to deepen shared connections between affiliate stations and their local audiences. In 2015, TEGNA’s aggressive strategy generated 22.7 million total likes, comments and shares across all stations, a total that put them on par with publishers like The New York Times, Washington Post, and NBC.com.
Instant Articles added two key features important to TEGNA: an improved user experience for mobile articles; and, a more direct path to monetizing this active and loyal Facebook audience.
We chatted with TEGNA about their overall Facebook strategy and how Instant Articles has become an important part of building and monetizing their audience.
TEGNA media has a history of maximizing engagement on Facebook. TEGNA’s 9News in Denver, Colorado had the top performing local news video post of 2015 with 130 million views. In 2016, a cancer survivor video posted in October by TEGNA station KVUE in Austin, Texas became the year’s most watched video among local broadcasters, with over 67M video views. When Hurricane Matthew swept through Jacksonville, Florida, FirstCoast News went Live with up-to-the-minute safety information and captured an audience beyond its local broadcast viewership. Across TEGNA, reporters are encouraged to engage within comment threads and stations often break news first on Facebook.
For TEGNA, adding Instant Articles was consistent with its goal of continuing to improve customer experience. Previously, when a station posted a link to an article, users were linked off to a slow-loading station mobile web page that took them out of the News Feed. TEGNA started publishing nearly all its content via Instant Articles to replace that interrupted experience with a seamless one. They have seen engagement improve and outpaced last year’s number of 22.7 million total likes, comments and shares across all stations, placing them among the top performing news publishers.
“Adoption of Instant Articles was a logical next step as part of TEGNA’s commitment to deliver an exceptional experience for our news consumers. Articles load instantly, and the user stays on their chosen platform, with faster and easier sharing and discovery of related content.” — Andy Schneider, Chief Digital Officer.
“Our local journalists now leverage Facebook’s tools daily to discover, engage and amplify stories that matter to the communities we serve. We start a conversation on Facebook, and listen to the comments to find new stories; our reporters use Live to engage the audience and then we publish via Instant Articles, which results in sharing that amplifies the reach of our stories. These tools to help us find and tell better stories.” – Frank Mungeam, VP Digital Content.
TEGNA stations had already built a large following on Facebook, but previously relied solely on outbound links to the mobile web to generate direct revenue. However, slow loading times on the mobile web led users to abandon an article before they could read it. The company now uses Instant Articles to keep audiences engaged, and primarily monetizes through Audience Network.
So far, the click-through rates on Audience Network have outperformed other ad networks. “The ad experience is excellent for both audience and advertiser,” says Schneider. He notes the company is drawn to Audience Network because ads load nearly instantly and the design fits seamlessly within Instant Articles.
“Relevant ads, served instantly and presented well are an important part of the overall user experience. Instant Articles is not just a better way for users to connect with our content; it also delivers monetization in way that complements the user’s content experience.” — Andy Schneider, Chief Digital Officer.