Yesterday’s post on half-assed RSS feeds has drawn more comments than I expected.
<sidebar> I have an untested theory on why there are more comments than I expected. That theory is that I’m now including the comments to posts in my main RSS feed. I wonder if that correlates to more comments? Please feel free to post a comment saying why you think that is. </sidebar>
The first comment is from James and includes a link to a more full fledged (albeit scraped) MacMinute RSS feed than MacMinute provides, which I disagree with as a solution on principle, only because it’s not sanctioned by MacMinute’s publisher, Stan Flack, who I consider to be a friend (though, I do appreciate the scraped feed as a reader, I can’t condone it personally). Also, James does offer to pull scraped feeds, in his lastest post, if the site owners involved just ask him to. And back in August, James made some comments about syndicating the news posted on a website.
My whole argument about complete feature rich RSS feeds comes from the idea that I want to read my news in RSS versus a un-usable form of title+link, especially where there are other aggregators (like myapplemenu) that aggregate the news by hand (with attribution) and publish their contents in full.
To me, that’s the biggest competitor to sites, like MacMinute, in the RSS space. It’s not like someone won’t beat Stan to the idea if he just waits a little while longer… someone already has beaten Stan to the idea, they just aren’t making money off of it.
I’ve heard the argument that pageviews are what pays for MacMinute to stay alive and to support their server costs at Pair. I don’t pretend to know a think about MacMinute’s finances, but I can say with fair certainty that they aren’t swimming in the ad dollars. And I can assume they’re not nearly as cash-flow rich as MacPublishing LLC (which is another RSS feed I dropped for lack of features).
That being said, I think there is a revenue stream in a full RSS feed though it’s a small one right now. I’d like to see one of those two publishers come out with a full-featured RSS feed.
Come on, we’re not talking about 90% of their potential users using RSS, we’re talking about 5-10% tops. And those 5-10% of readers are costing them a shit load of money in bandwidth, because they load the standard pages so many times a day (and likely never click that much) that I think RSS would pay for itself in cost savings alone for those readers. I also think that the RSS feed readers going away from the page readers would increase the response rate for the advertisers, as well as tightening up ad inventory and making the audience more valuable. (I’m pretty sure they could their current RSS readers in their total ‘unique visitor’ count, because they can’t parse those hits out from the regular traffic consistently. I also would venture a guess that they’re counting those RSS ‘hits’ as ‘page views’ because their log analysis software most likely doesn’t parse it out for them).
Add on top of that, that those RSS feeds could be turned into their own revenue stream, by offering advertising inside the feeds. I don’t want to tell Stan or MacPublishing how to offer that advertising… I’m not a free consultant, though I could be bought off with a free dinner… But, I’m telling you that I wouldn’t mind looking at a useful targeted text ad in an RSS feed every day. Make it the 5th post in an RSS feed, and you’re golden. No one will bitch.
I sell advertising for a living folks… this could be sold, and the profit margin could be much better than that of banner ads. We’re not talking about a whole lot of money, but it is money, and it’s got a much lower cost of sale involved, as well as a relatively small number of readers on the whole.
Just my thoughts.
I understand that it’s a business decision, not a tech decision and appreciate Slava’s help at getting the real MacMinute feed more featured.
More reading on RSS feeds:
Rusty Coats writes about RSS feeds and comments that feed Classified ads into RSS is something that some newspaper somewhere will pull off, and it’ll be huge. Rusty’s really brought up some great points about why RSS is important.
Richard asks about adding a Full RSS feed to his Movablog and links to this post by Jonathon Delacour (which will help Andy understand why he doesn’t see the comments of each post in his Radio RSS aggregator I believe).
Pete talks a little about how he’s distributing his content via RSS in this post and has a few thoughts that relate to monetizing that traffic:
Provide the full text for the X most recent items, and just the title and description for the rest of the items. What about paying for a full RSS feed versus using the free titles only feed? What about ads in the feed? (Please, don’t kill me!)
J.D. Lasica talks about this new application that brings all the news you want to know about straight to your computer, so you can control your reading experience… It’s called an Aggregator:
The explosion of weblogs and niche news sites poses a problem for any info-warrior: Who the heck has time to read all this stuff?
Well, here’s one possible solution: news readers — a new crop of software programs that fetch updated dispatches from your favorite online writers, bloggers or news outfits.
There’s some great information about RSS feed use by the Christian Science Monitor (a real paper that’s making real money) and their thoughts about it in J.D.’s piece.
“I look at the Web as an opportunity to have a million doorways to the Christian Science Monitor,” says publisher Stephen Gray. “I think of it as a progression from one end, where it’s free, to the other end, where it’s paid. The pipeline has to be really big at the out end to bring in lots of beginners if you want to maximize the number of subscribers at the other end.”
BTW, the CSMonitor’s subscription is up in a year that most newspapers lost 2% of their subscribers.
Interstingly I can’t find an OJR RSS feed.
Back on the subject, Jay Allen makes an argument for complete RSS feeds here. There are some great points there Jay:
Anyway, that’s enough of a rant. If you want to broaden your user base, publish your content in RSS format. If you want to delight your readers, publish everything and not just excerpts.
(I love the link to the delight article)
That’s it for tonight… but more later, I’m sure.
Oh, and by the way, Mark Pilgrim is now offering a premium service for his content… and I bet he’ll make money doing it.