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Pocket Makes Peace Offering to Publishers in the War for Page Views

screen-shot-2013-03-26-at-8-49-16-am[1]The competition for page views is heating up, and today Pocket threw more fuel on to the fire.

This 6-year-old save for later service released a new set of tools today. It’s called Pocket for Publishers, and it is going to offer blogs and websites a way to track how their content is being read by the over 8.5 million users of Pocket’s Android, iOS, and other apps.

Pocket believes that it will ease the discomfort some website owners feel about the page views lost to services like Pocket.

While it might not restore the page views, Pocket for Publishers does offer content creators a better understanding of how and when their content is read. It also offers an opportunity to engage with Pocket users as an audience.

I have not been briefed on this, so I’m not sure I know more than anyone else.  But from what I can tell P4P is still in beta. Website owners that sign up are offered a dashboard that looks something like this:


The website owners get to see which of their articles are saved to Pocket, how long the articles are kept, how many times they are read, and which articles are shared.

In addition to the analytics shown above, website owners are going to be able to add a postscript that Pocket users will see at then end of any articles they read. That postscript can be used to suggest related articles from the same source, offer a subscription option, or in some other way promote the website that originally published the article.

Pocket is also offering an updated "Send to Pocket" button that can be inserted into a website’s layout as well as better integration with a website owner’s existing app and/or paywall.

This doesn’t give website owners what we really want but it does make a decent consolation prize.

Ask anyone who runs a blog for a living what they want and they’ll tell you they want money. For most of us that is advertising dollars, and we get that by increasing our page views.

Even the most enthusiastic supporter of reading services like Pocket is secretly unhappy about the page views lost from their website. Everyone wants to earn more revenue, but Pocket can’t give website owners the revenue they lose when readers transfer articles to that service. That has actually been tried before by one of Pocket’s competitor’s, Readability, but never amounted to much. Readability paid content creators a majority share of the subscription fees from users but stopped when the service went free. And in any case, Pocket is not in control of what their users are doing, so there is little reason to expect Pocket to pay.

Cool, is it not? This is the kind of support that I have been wanting to see for some years now, ever since I learned that I was being read in the Zite app and that some readers were sharing my posts on Twitter. That was in August 2011, and Zite went on to start sharing data with publishers in April 2012.

I can’t find any sign that other reading services offer content creators similar data on readers, but I would not be surprised to read about new programs like P4P launching soon. If we can’t have the money then we’ll take the data and be happy.

But to be fair, this is not nearly as much of a downer as I might make it sound. Even though page views are lost to reading services and to this blog’s RSS feed, I know that readers who read this blog via an feed reader are also responsible for about 20% of the page views on this blog. That’s what my FeedBurner stats tell me, anyway.

That, my dears, is the reason why content creators should be clamoring to work with Pocket (and Zite). It gives readers what they want while still generating at least a small plus for content creators.

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