Company also confirms it is working on subscription feature allowing publishers to charge for access to articles.
In its continuing efforts to sell publishers on the benefits of Instant Articles, Facebook Inc
. is launching a new analytics tool in partnership with Nielsen that will give news outlets more data on how their stories perform on the platform.
Facebook also confirmed it is working on a subscription feature that would allow publishers to charge for access to their articles. The paywall product, first reported
by The Wall Street Journal in June, will be available through Instant Articles starting in October. The paywall will likely kick in after a user reads 10 articles in a month, a person familiar with the matter said. The feature will be tested with a small group of publishers to start.
Facebook has long argued that stories posted through its fast-loading Instant Articles program have led to greater engagement from readers, but some publishers have remained unconvinced given the lack of specific enough data.
In the past, Facebook has made available performance data aggregated across the 10,000 or so publishers who have tried the program. The new tool will now allow publishers to see how their specific news organizations' stories perform on Instant Articles collectively, enabling them to compare against those posted using traditional links sending readers to a mobile webpage.
"This insight provides an important signal publishers can use to make informed business decisions about how they share content on Facebook," said Facebook product manager, Mona Sarantakos.
At the beginning, the tool will provide publishers with a very basic overview of the performance of their own content, but there are plans to add layers of detail-such as country-by-country data-going forward.
The new data won't, at least for now, provide information on each individual story posted to Instant Articles.
Kim Lau, vice president of digital and head of business development at the Atlantic, which posts almost all its stories on Facebook using Instant Articles, said the move wasn't necessarily a game changer, but was a positive sign Facebook was trying to better accommodate publishers.
"It helps us understand the trade-offs we are making and to better understand what the benefits are," she said. "We have been asking for this from the beginning."
Facebook launched the Instant Article program with a handful of large publishers such as the New York Times , the Daily Mail, BuzzFeed and NBC News in 2015. It opened it to all publishers the following year.
But many publishers have been wary about how much content to post through the program, expressing concerns about becoming more deeply reliant on Facebook for traffic and having less access to information about their readers.
Some publishers have also complained that given the limitations on the number and type of ads initially placed on stories posted on Instant Articles, they saw less money coming in compared with what they got through direct visits to their sites. Facebook has since eased the restrictions, which some say has improved the situation.
Still, some big publishers, such as the Guardian and the Times, have pivoted away from the program, and others have reduced the amount of content they post there.
Others, such as the Daily Mail, which posts almost all of its content on Facebook via Instant Articles, say there have been clear benefits, including drawing in more readers.
"It's true that the CPMs have been a little lighter there than on our own mobile webpage, but we have seen close to 50% uplift, so if you do the math you can see that added volume outweighs whatever little bit we may lose on CPM," said Noah Szubski, the Mail's chief product officer. CPM refers to the rate charged to an advertiser for a thousand ad impressions.