It’s the Feed Standard Stupid

The quicker the marketing industry can develop standard usage and reporting metrics around RSS (and other similar xml feed standards), the better.


The current situation, where online 'media properties' owners (including portals, publishers & bloggers) cannot agree which feed statistics are relevant, nor having the right toolset for accurate and standardised reporting is analogous to the early days of the commercial web. 


I remember having real trouble in ’95 agreeing with ad agencies, media planners and brand owners about what a fair rate should be for the opportunities I was offering at the time on a site I managed.  At the time there was a very loosely defined set of terms (impressions, cost-per-click etc.) but none had been formally adopted by the likes of ABC (IAB in the UK was but a twinkle in the eye) who at the time thought we were talking utter gobbledygook.  It took a while (too long), but they got there in the end.  In the meantime we had to use common sense and trust...which is fine for a while, but not sustainable.


The international IAB bodies should work with the publishers (e.g. the ZDNet, CNET and major portals of this world), the CMS and ad-serving software providers, blog software developers, W3C and those responsible for developing the various feed standards (RSS, Atom, etc) to work this one out together.


The discussions so far around RSS v Atom, RSS v Email marketing, websites v blogs and blogs v RSS all skirt around this metrics issue.


It occurs to me that whatever the results of the RSS v Atom ‘battles’ turn out to be, it will be feed standard bodies (or 'advisory bodies'...whatever) that works most closely and proactively with the marketing industry (including software developers) who will in turn benefit through industry acceptance of that agreed standard.  Or two: this dynamic may actually force those in both camps (RSS & Atom) to agree on at least some common attributes within those standards, which has to be a good thing, right?


It is in everyone’s interest to get this sorted out asap.


Thanks to Scobleizer for the pointer to this post which set me off here.

Comments (3)
  1. Danny says:

    I don’t think it’s so much skirting around, as not seeing it as a pressing concern. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t see much of the material in feeds as relating to marketing. The web has more value than just as a place for selling stuff.

    It’s not altogether clear what kind of metrics you are looking for. The http accesses from aggregators would probably be an unreliable metric, as feeds can be downloaded without necessarily being viewed. If you wanted to count the number of times a particular item was read, you’d have a hell of a job persuading aggregator developers to record and pass that information on.

    But anyhow, I’ll pass a link to your post onto the list.

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