RSS Metrics & Reporting


Danny commented on this post, and sensibly makes the point: “It’s not altogether clear what kind of metrics you are looking for.”


So, to clarify…I’m asking for:


an agreement on the key metrics that marketers (and anyone interested) can use to understand and compare useage & consumption data of RSS feeds at the aggregate, not personal data level.


(Before I go on, I  agree with Danny: the web does have more value than just a place for selling stuff 🙂 …in the same way RSS will have many more applications & usage scenarios than content/blogging syndication…)


Examples:



  • number of views/impressions (where the RSS post has been viewed…similar to the established email metric of ‘open rate’)
  • number of views/impressions by client (browser, reader, server app, etc)
  • number of views/impressions of headline only (similar to email metric of ‘subscribers’)
  • number of views/impressions of headline only by client (browser, reader, server/machine app, etc)
  • click-throughs generated from RSS reader to webposting
  • click-throughs generated from Referrers to webposting
  • referrer URL details (not a metric, but useful to know)

Whatever the solution, it needs to be driven from the server-side (as per current email/web reporting solutions/modules).


There are ways of achieving some of the above metrics today:



  • adding web-bugs / transparent gifs / ad-server tracker to a post’s body (similar to email/web today)
  • adding ‘go’ type URLs within a post’s body (similar to email/web today)

I’m already seeing RSS feeds that are using first of these two techniques.  By using these techniques you could get:



  • number of views/impressions (open rate)
  • number of views/impressions by client

Most blogging & CMS today software provides:



  • click-throughs generated from Referrers
  • referrer URL details

I don’t know how the remainder would be achieved:


++  number of views/impressions of headline only
++  number of views/impressions of headline only by client
++  click-throughs generated from RSS reader to webposting


The fact is we can get some of the metrics/reporting <not just> marketers need (although I believe this depends however of the type of feed you are using, i.e. RSS or whatever) , but we don’t have an industry agreement on what the key metrics should be.  This is what I propose needs to happen, pronto.


(Update: Since this post, I think I’ve found some answers)


Comments (10)

  1. Danny says:

    Many thanks Alex, couldn’t be clearer.

    I’ve copied your request directly onto the mailing list (http://www.imc.org/atom-syntax/).

    I’ve no idea what kind of response there will be, but I think you’ve made a good case for consideration of metrics to be included in any W3C/IETF Atom charter.

  2. Alex Barnett says:

    That’s great Danny, thanks…please let me know if anything comes of it.

    Alex.

  3. WebBugs? I had hoped they had been discredited by now, especially in emails as both Office 2003 and XP SP2 will not load images in Outlook/Outlook Express by default. I would hope most RSS readers will do the same.

    However adding stats into the RSS/Atom standard? WHY Danny? It’s not part of any HTML standard, or any email RFC. These things would be best left to server software surely.

  4. Harald says:

    Would totally focus onto click-throughs. Do not repeat the impression-mistake mass media made. RSS is after all still something that can be "ignored while used" like TV. Click-throughs do seem to be the only human-interface-contact…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Agreement on the RSS key metrics that marketers (and anyone interested) can use to understand and compare useage & consumption data of RSS feeds at the aggregate, not personal data level.

  6. Tiffany Doyle says:

    The link to "some answers" produces a "Forum Not Found" result. I was really hoping for some answers!