Analytics for Instant Articles

Instant Articles allows publishers to track engagement with their articles through data that Facebook provides as well as data that publishers can gather by embedding in-house analytics tools or third-party measurement services. As with all of our products, we make sure that no personally identifiable information is shared with third parties.

Analytics Services

If you use Google Analytics or any other in-house or third-party services for analytics to measure reader interaction with your articles, you can embed the same tracking tags as part of your Instant Articles in order to include this data within your existing analytics tools.

You can embed HTML/JavaScript tracking code within an iframe on each article using the Analytics element. Anything in this iframe will execute at the beginning of each article load, but the webview will remain hidden from the reader. This embed must be included in the <body> of the article and is not supported in the header or footer.

<figure class="op-tracker">
    <iframe>
        <!-- Include full analytics code here -->
    </iframe>
</figure>

For JavaScript tracking codes, Facebook will automatically set the document origin of trackers to be the same as the resolved URL used to post or share the Instant Article. Information such as the device type, language and locale appears just as it would in the Facebook app's standard web browser. Page views recorded by JavaScript trackers will appear as direct traffic. If you'd like the traffic to appear as a Facebook referral, you'll need to specify it in the JavaScript code.

Facebook also exposes a defined set of Instant Article data, which the analytics trackers can use optionally. For JavaScript tracking codes, that data is available in the ia_document JavaScript object.

<figure class="op-tracker">
      <iframe>
          <script>
              // The URL the user shared
              var urlSharedByUser = ia_document.shareURL;

              // The article title
              var title = ia_document.title;

              // Referrer is always set to 'ia.facebook.com'
              var referrer = ia_document.referrer;
          </script>
      </iframe>
</figure>

For URL trackers, the data is available as query parameters.

Note: When using URL trackers consider the possibility of loading Mixed Content. In the scenario of Mixed Active Content, the content will be blocked potentially leading to Instant Article views not being tracked by your tracker.

<figure class="op-tracker">
      <iframe src="http://my-url-tracker.com/">
          <!--
          The request to http://my-url-tracker.com/ will be rewritten to
          include the following query parameters:
          
          ia_share_url: The URL the user shared
          ia_title: The article title
          -->
      </iframe>
</figure>

Apart from the regular way of testing an Instant Article tracker i.e. opening the article on the Pages Manager app, Facebook also provides an endpoint for faster testing, which you can run in the browser and debug. This provides an approximation of the Instant Articles environment, however with a different base URL. The browser debugging tools apply.

www.ia-tracker.fbsbx.com/instant_article_test?url=<share-url>

Depending on the service being used, you may add specific tags or keywords to the analytics code within your Instant Articles in order to distinguish views of an Instant Article from views of the corresponding article on your website.

Analytics code is sandboxed from the article interactions as well as other webviews embedded in the article and so it does not have the ability to record specific actions taken in the article.

Please refer to your third-party analytics provider for any specific implementation details.

Use the following documentation links from third-party providers:

Chartbeat

Parse.ly

Adobe Analytics

Nielsen

SimpleReach

comScore

Cookies

With Instant Articles, analytics tools have access to the same cookie store that the Facebook embedded web browser provides.

Similar to tracking code, use the Analytics element in order to embed your code to manage cookies. Since this embed uses the same embedded web browser throughout our app, your cookies translate across articles read within our embedded web browser and Instant Articles.

Third-Party Traffic Attribution

Using the approach outlined above, you can add tracking code to your Instant Articles from any third-party measurement service, including ABC, AGOF, comScore, Effective Measure, IVW, Mediametrie, and Nielsen and more.

In addition to adding this tracking code to your Instant Articles markup, you should also be sure to contact the representative at your measurement provider to ensure that your traffic will be properly counted.

Instant Articles Insights Dashboard

Facebook provides analytics on interactions with your Instant Articles through the admin dashboard for your Facebook Page.

From the top of your Page, click Publishing Tools and then select Instant Articles from the menu on the left of the screen and navigate to the Production Articles library. To view the data for a specific article, click the graph icon next to the article title.

The data provided are:

  1. Clicks: The total number of times that an Instant Article is opened.
  2. Time Spent: The time spent reading the article, from when the article appears on-screen and is interactive to when the article view closes.
  3. Scroll depth: A measure of how deep into the article readers scroll, to help you understand how many people read to the end of the article. For example, if 10% of the article is visible when it first opens, the minimum scroll depth is 10%. Scroll depth reaches 100% when the bottom of the article comes into view.

This traffic includes articles that have been shared by your page as well as shares from other people and pages on Facebook. It does not include people reading the web version of the article.

Page Insights

When your page shares a link that has an Instant Article version, the statistics for the Instant Article are counted in the the insights for the post including reach, link clicks, likes, comments, and shares.

Instant Articles Insights API

Analytics on your Instant Articles can also be retrieved through an API, enabling easy import of the data into your analytics systems. Analytics can be queried for individual articles or reported in aggregate across the entire set of articles published by your page.

Article Insights

Analytics data on each of your individual articles can be queried, including views, durations, and scroll depth. In addition, analytics can be queried for individual media assets within the article, such as total views for a video.

For more information how to use this API, read our Insights Metrics for Instant Article API documentation.

Aggregate Insights

Analytics data can also be queried in aggregate, across your entire library of Instant Articles, in order to provide a comprehensive view of how readers are interacting with your content.

For more information how to use this API, read our Insights Metrics of Aggregated Instant Articles API documentation.

Instant Articles Performance Tool

In the Instant Articles Performance Tool, publishers can see how their articles perform compared to their mobile web equivalents. Here is the methodology for how we made this measurement*.

How are these metrics defined?

Our goal was to measure Instant Articles’ impact on referral traffic from Facebook. If people viewed more Instant Articles in the A/B test, we would conclude the native app reading experience drove the increase in traffic. An article view is captured when an article link is tapped from a surface on Facebook and results in a page with content that can be viewed and consumed as an Instant Article or a mobile web article in the in-app browser. This does not include any subsequent taps within the Instant Article or the in-app browser

These numbers are mobile-only from the native Facebook app. They do not include iPads or Android tablets; mobile web browsers like Chrome and Safari; or separate Facebook-owned experiences like Facebook Lite, Messenger or Instagram. They are measured as a 30-day aggregate which is updated each day and weighted based on the relative population of iOS and Android readers for each publisher. As a result, your total lift is not a simple average of your iOS and Android lift.

We measure these metrics to show views from Facebook (e.g. News Feed, Timeline, Pages, Groups, comments) to Instant Articles and mobile web articles. Comparing these metrics allows us to see whether Instant Articles is delivering a lift (more article views) over mobile web articles, or not.

In News Feed we rank stories based on how relevant each post is to each individual person; we do not show links higher in people's News Feed because they are Instant Articles. If, based on engagement signals, someone might find an Instant Article more relevant, we may show that link higher in their feed.

These metrics have been reviewed and audited by our internal metrics review team.

How are Instant Articles compared to the mobile web control group?

A percentage of people on Facebook are never shown the Instant Article version of any article. This percentage accounts for our mobile web control group. These 2 groups (Instant Articles test and mobile web control) are roughly the same in size (within .01% of each other) but may differ slightly based on availability.

We set up backend events to record when people tap on links from Facebook which result in viewable articles, then determine if the article was viewed as an Instant Article or mobile web version. We then look at the collection of articles which were published as Instant Articles and compare their performance to their mobile web counterparts. We do this by comparing test group users who could see Instant Articles to control group users who only see the mobile web version of the article. By comparing the number of article views (normalized for group size), we determine how the presence of Instant Articles affects article views.

Why do some Instant Articles publishers not have access to the Performance Tool?

The new tool requires enough data to measure the difference between article views for each format. With the current measurement methodology, publishers must have enough Instant Articles and mobile web versions to compare in order for us to calculate a statistically significant lift.

Learn more in our Instant Articles blog.

*"Nielsen Custom Instant Article Study", A Nielsen study commissioned by Facebook, July 2017.