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Pocket’s 30 Million Users Are Great for Publishers

Mozilla’s focus on leisurely reads is aimed at publishers burned by Facebook. It’s paying off: Traffic is already up 75 percent this year.

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Photographer: Rose Wong for Bloomberg Businessweek

The jittery system of homepages, search engines, social networks, and content aggregators that helps people find topical things to read and watch online has spent 2018 readjusting to a dramatic disturbance. At the start of the year, facing a backlash over its role in spreading misinformation, Facebook Inc. announced that its News Feed would begin favoring posts by users’ friends and family over those posted by professional sources. The switch left publishers racing to find new sources of reader referrals and, where possible, wring more ad dollars from fewer clicks.

Publishers tend to focus their pitches to advertisers or investors on how much time the audience spends with their material. That requires a different formula than the clickbait and listicles of the past, says Nate Weiner. “It might be a deep dive on something happening in the news,” he says. “Or it might be those tabs you have open in your browser about your career or about parenting or how to be a better person.”