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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

Pocket aims to get on publishers’ good sides with a new read-it-later stats package

See how your stories are performing — and whether you have bragging rights over your newsroom cubicle-mate.

Pocket, one of the three biggest players in the read-it-later space (with Instapaper and Readability), just announced Pocket for Publishers, a suite of tools to track how your content is flowing through its service. If you’ve ever wondered which of your stories are getting “read later” the most, here’s your answer. (Or at least one-third of it.)

Publishers on board include Time.com, The Verge, Bloomberg Businessweek, USA Today, BuzzFeed, WordPress, SB Nation, The Next Web, GigaOm, Polygon, New York Review of Books, Matter, Aeon Magazine, The Billfold, and Longreads.

Nieman Lab also got a sneak peek — here’s what the publisher dashboard looks like:

pocket-publisher-dashboard

So one in three Pocket users “opened content after it was saved.” (It’s unclear whether that’s content saved in the last 30 days, or whether it’s opens from the last 30 days. It’s also unclear how that compares to the broader Pocketverse; I’m an Instapaper user and I can assure you that I open fewer than one-third of the articles I save.)

Average lifespan is, according to Pocket, “the period of time in which most (80%) activity occurred.” That’s similar to the metrics Pocket released last week for a few sample stories.

Also note the breakdown both by authors and by stories — the gamification of journalism continues apace! — and the distinction between raw saved count and “impact,” which Pocket says “favors loyalty and quality of content over raw popularity.” Not sure how that gets algorithmically determined. It would also be great, obviously, to see raw numbers rather than just ranks — I don’t have any clue here whether a story’s been saved once or 500 times in Pocket.

Update: Proof that I am not the brightest: You can, in fact, get those raw numbers just by clicking through to individual articles. Here’s the data page for one of our stories:

pocket-publishers-story-stats

In this case, a story that was posted on a Friday saw its biggest reading activity (or at least opening activity) the following Monday. Having the raw data also gives us a first glimpse into the size of this world. A typical Nieman Lab post seem to average around 50 Pocket saves — a number significantly below Twitter or Facebook shares, but also a lot higher than Google +1s or LinkedIn shares. Over the past 30 days, the five most-saved Nieman Lab articles had 331, 215, 194, 184, and 167 saves — quite respectable, especially considering how the read-it-later market is split between multiple outlets.)

That message clickthrough rate is, I assume, artificially crazy high since the feature just launched. What is it, anyway?

pocket-publisher-message

It’s a tool that lets you embed a footer message at the end of stories saved in Pocket. You can see the first one I made in the image. It’ll be interesting to see what that number ends up hovering around — “people who’ve just finished reading a longish piece by your publication” would seem to be pretty fertile ground for upsells or other messaging. (Pocket will also A/B test multiple messages and let you know which ones get the most action.)

While few if any publishers have formally backed out of read-it-later services, they haven’t exactly been the best of friends. Services like Pocket offer a refined reading environment, sure, but they also strip out most or all of the ads that accompany the story. And maybe more importantly in the long run, they encourage brand loyalty at the service level (Pocket, Instapaper, Readability) rather than at the producer level (The New Yorker, GQ, Wired). So it makes sense for someone like Pocket to try to add value for those publishers — tracking the stories that someone “reads later” can serve as a useful quality-oriented supplement to tracking pageviews.

Along with the dashboard and footer messages, Pocket also announced a “Send to Pocket” button for websites — will read-it-later services be the ones to bring back the buttonpocalypse? — and code to allow a similar feature to be embedded in mobile apps.

                                   
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  • http://twitter.com/lanaganj James Lanagan

    Seems like this is the way to go, although bit.ly may have a large head-start. Concerning a buttonpocalypse, “Defer” is a nice little add-on for Chrome that puts all the read-it-later (Instapaper, Pocket, Readability) into a single button menu.