July 19, 2017

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a comment from The Atlantic.

Facebook today released a new developer’s tool for publishers to see how their stories are doing on the social media platform.

The analytics tool, which is located under the “Publishing Tools” tab on Facebook pages, allows news outlets to compare the traffic of their regular mobile articles with that of the social platform’s Instant Articles.

“This insight provides an important signal publishers can use to make informed business decisions about how they share content on Facebook,” said Mona Sarantakos, Facebook product manager, in a press release sent to Poynter. “In the coming months we plan to add more metrics to the tool to help track Instant Articles performance.”

Instant Articles were opened to all publishers in spring 2016, and now more than 10,000 around the world use the service, Sarantakos said. The new traffic comparison tool will be available to all publishers who have posted enough Instant Articles and mobile stories to measure the difference, according to the release.

Related Training: Tweet This, Not That: How to Write and Edit for Social Media

“Facebook has given us what we need to make the apples-to-apples comparison between Instant Articles and our other monetization channels,” said Dan Check, vice chairman of The Slate Group, in an email to Poynter.

“It’s easy to take this uplift percentage and calculate overall Instant Article revenue versus what you would have made if the content was mobile web,” said Noah Szubski, chief product officer at DailyMail.com, in an email to Poynter.

According to Facebook’s analysis, people are less likely to tap out of a story when it loads fast, they’re more likely to share Instant Articles than mobile versions, and people read more articles when they see Instant Articles in their news feed. More than a third of all clicks to articles on Facebook are Instant Articles, which makes the new traffic comparison feature important — especially considering that the social media site will allow paywalled articles later this year.

“I’ve always believed that the user experience of Instant Articles was positively correlated with more consumption. With the launch of this metric, I can finally back up that belief with real data,” said Kim Lau, The Atlantic’s senior vice president of digital and head of business development, in an email to Poynter. “For the past 30 days, we’re seeing a 33.5 percent increase in article views compared to our mobile web versions.”

Facebook worked with Nielson to validate its measurement methodology, which is detailed in a post on the social network’s developer’s blog.

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Daniel Funke is a staff writer covering online misinformation for PolitiFact. He previously reported for Poynter as a fact-checking reporter and a Google News Lab…
Daniel Funke

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