Save-for-later service Pocket reported today that it has seen 240 million total items saved to its platform during 2012, from 7.4 million followers. That represents growth of around 85 percent for the year, but the really impressive figure is the activity metric: 240 million saves adds up to more data synced to the service in 2012 than in the previous four years combined, during which there were 170 million total saves.
The change in branding from Read It Later to Pocket in April 2012 does indeed seem to have contributed in part to the growth in activity. The shift helped the company get away from an identity tied strictly to articles and text-based content, to include things like video and just generally any links people wanted to be able to come back to later. As you can see in the graphic, while use of the service was already trending up, once that happened its trajectory began to climb more sharply.
End of year stats relayed by Pocket also include the frequency of saves: 10.4 items per second, the company says. This, combined with its total saves figure, is the most impressive thing about these traction numbers: user growth is impressive, but frequency and total number of items stored in the service indicate that Pocket isn’t just adding sign-ups, it’s actually bringing on quality registrations who actively use the service. potentially avoiding the problems with high growth rates but low engagement experienced early on by companies like Twitter.
Some specific content was more popular than others, and Pocket points out two in particular that had everyone saving. The Michael Lewis Vanity Fair profile of President Barack Obama was the most-saved article for the year, which was saved a lot shortly following its release, but mostly opened and presumably read four days after it first arrived. This, Pocket claims, shows the value of a read-it-later service: 80 percent of those saving didn’t have the time or inclination to read it immediately, but came back to it when things were more convenient. PSY’s Gangnam Style was, not surprisingly, the most frequently saved video on Pocket, and while its viewing popularity peaked long after its initial release, it stayed at a high open rate for a long time: Pocket says it stayed within 50 percent of its absolute peak popularity for 58 straight days.
Pocket also provides a glimpse into platform popularity: the computer was actually the most popular device for viewing at 28 percent of all views, suggesting a lot of users might be saving stuff on mobile to get back to on their desktop. Android phones came in second with 25 percent, and the iPhone (21 percent), iPad (16 percent) and Android tablets (10 percent) followed. Most users access Pocket from two or more platforms, proving that part of the inherent value for users is being able to tap the service no matter which devices they happen to own.
These kinds of looks at where and when content both catches and holds the public’s attention strikes me as incredibly useful metric for brands and publishers, which that I’m sure the free Pocket can do interesting things to leverage down the road.