How many people are actually “reading it later”? Pocket launches tool for publishers

As web audiences increasingly shift to mobile devices and new reading platforms like Twitter and Flipboard, publishers are hungry to learn as much as possible about how consumption patterns are changing.
Pocket, the read-it/watch-it/consume-it-later service formerly known as Read It Later, on Tuesday launched Pocket for Publishers, which aims to shed some light on that question. The free tool gives publishers a better idea of the lifespan of a story, by telling them the percentage of readers that are actually coming back to read content they’ve saved, and how long it takes them to return. Pocket is launching the tool with a handful of publishers, including GigaOM and paidContent.
Pocket for Publishers has two parts. On the front end, publishers can install a “Save to Pocket” button on their websites, can integrate the technology into their apps, and can add a custom message to the footer of any article or video saved from their site to help promote special content, their apps, their social media accounts, or other things.
pocket gigaom screenshotOn the back end, participating publishers access a dashboard that includes “includes top content and authors based on saves, opens and open rate, and new metrics that focus on longevity and engagement.” At left, you can see a sample of what that looks like, for Om Malik’s recent story “Google Reader lived on borrowed time: creator Chris Wetherell reflects.
Launch partners (besides us) include The Verge, Buzzfeed, Longreads, USA Today, WordPress and The Next Web. Other publishers can sign up to request access.
Late last year, Pocket also rolled out subscription options for publishers that charge for content. Among the publishers already using this service are the Virginia Quarterly Review, the New York Review of Books and longform journalism site Matter. The subscription options aren’t automatically included in the new Pocket for Publishers, but users can request them.
Pocket has over 8.5 million users across the web, Mac, iOS (s AAPL) and Android (s GOOG), and is also integrated into services like Flipboard and Zite. The company says that users saved content to Pocket 240 million times in 2012.
Pocket competitors include Instapaper, a paid app with about 2 million users, and Readability. (Readability offered a payment-sharing program for publishers, but ended it last year.) Amazon (s AMZN), too, hopes to compete in the space with a new “Send to Kindle” button for publishers.