Facebook just launched an analytics tool for publishers of Instant Articles on the network. The tool will look at referral traffic from a test group who'll view Instant Articles, in addition to a controlled group that sees mobile web versions of said articles.
Instant Articles Analytics Tool
Facebook's core goal is to let publishers know that stories generate more traffic when they're published as Instant Articles. Facebook has now made the tool available for most publishers, especially those who have already published enough Instant Articles to draw ample comparison. Going forward, Facebook plans to add more metrics to the tool.
Facebook Instant Articles
For those who have yet to encounter Instant Articles, they're not much different from viewing articles via a third-party mobile browser, except it's much faster and more streamlined. This way, Facebook keeps users locked to the site.
On average, U.S. and Canada users click and read 25 percent more when stories are presented as Instant Articles. Europe, meanwhile, clicks and reads 30 percent more. The Middle East and North Africa gain the most significant figure at 80 percent.
Facebook launched Instant Articles in 2015 with strict guidelines on style, ad restrictions, and no apparent way for users to subscribe to the content provider they're reading. At the time of its launch and burgeoning prevalence, some critics worried that Instant Articles might turn publishers into ghostwriters.
Facebook recently made some efforts to make Instant Articles a better deal for publishers. It let them display more ads than before, added Like and email sign-up buttons, and is currently testing recirculation units, so publishers can coax readers from reading one article to another.
Facebook's new tool could be a godsend for many publishers. With it, they can actually determine if Instant Articles perform significantly better than plain, clickable links on the newsfeed. This way, it could decide whether Instant Articles garner enough increased readership to be a worthwhile deal between them and the social network.
Instant Articles Paywall
Facebook is also planning to add a paywall option for Instant Articles later this year. The publisher will be able to direct users to sign up or subscribe to get rid of the paywall. Publications such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal often have paywalls. This will reportedly start testing in October.