RSS – the publisher’s Frenemy
RSS – Publisher's Friend or Foe?
After spending some time working with a content publisher and having the opportunity to delve into their analytics – web and RSS, I think "Frenemy" (a term I first heard from Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP) is the appropriate description.
Bottom line comparing web page impressions versus RSS:
- Percentage sell through of inventory is higher for web than RSS
- CPMs are higher (by a significant multiple – 5x or greater) for web impressions than RSS
- Web provides more detailed demographics and analytics than RSS
I suspect the last point is the root of the first two – advertisers have little information about the demographics and behavior of RSS readers compared to viewers of web pages. RSS analytics have a long way to go even compared to free web analytics like Google; RSS analytics provide basic data such as number of times an article is read but nothing about user location, loyalty, and activity by hour of day etc.
RSS subscribers don't translate into active readers or viewers of articles. I know from my own RSS readership that only about a third of the subscribers are active readers and that seems to be on the high side compared to some of the other numbers I've seen. Moreover, a typical web impression might deliver 2 or 3 ad impressions versus a single impression for the same content on an RSS feed.
It's led me to wonder whether the publisher wouldn't be better served by eliminating their RSS feed completely.
For sure this would lose some number of readers but the high value (loyal) readers would likely go back to reading the web site and getting a more complete experience (and one at the control of the publisher, not the author of the feed reader or the feed middleman).
This is something to seriously consider for any publisher looking to monetize their content via advertising and syndication.
RSS desperately needs better analytics and better marketing in order to even the value equation and provide value to the publisher as well as the readers.