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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Diluting Your Feed

Is your RSS feed powerful enough that you need to dilute it?

I didn't think so but lots of people are diluting their feeds by making other feeds available. I'm guilty of this and I'm not sure how to stop it.

Why does this matter you ask? Well I guess it matters only if you want the free promotion that Apple gives you on the iTunes Store in the podcasting directory and if you want to make money by controlling and selling your own advertising inventory.

It stands to reason that if you make your content available in as many formats as you can that more people will be able to choose what feed they want to subscribe to. Right? Okay, sure but when someone subscribes to your Windows Media feed they are not subscribing to your feed that is featured on the iTunes Store and they don't count as a subscription for the day that will bring you up in the iTunes rankings. What good does moving up in the iTunes ranking do me? Well if you have content that is emotionally compelling and can really build a large audience it means a lot. It took me over a month to get listed on the iTunes Store and once French Maid TV was featured as new and notable we shot up to number one in 3 days and pick up 20,000 subscribers overnight. Then we were mentioned in Wired Magazine and picked up another 20,000 subscribers. Your feed is very important because it allows you to reach a lot of viewers quickly and the iTunes Store is a great way to get new subscribers and be noticed by business development people and media buyers who are looking for "hot" properties.

Youtube has offered subscribing to their videos for a while but that's a separate feed from your own feed and now other sites like Revver are offering subscription buttons for feeds as well. That's all well and good but in the long run where does that get you? You don't control those feeds. Sure they are another way to get more viewers paying attention to your videos but if these "Partner Feeds" go away you lose all those subscribers.

The Apple iTunes Store doesn't control your feed, you do. You create your feed and then you tell Apple where it lives. You can tell Apple about multiple feeds that you have, say an iPod/iPhone feed, an audio only feed and an Apple TV feed but if you do that you are just diluting your feed and diluting your brand when it comes to your ranking at the iTunes Store.

Looking at my stats at Feedburner 43% of the French Maid TV RSS feed subscribers come from Windows iTunes, another 43% come from Mac iTunes and the rest are divided up by up by other readers including 3% that is Zune. (I didn't even know that Zune people could watch French Maid TV. I thought I had to deliver an M4V in oder for them to subscribe.) 86% of French Maid TV's subscribers come from iTunes. They bad part about my Feedburner feed is that I don't know who my subscribers are and the only way I can contact them is by dropping something down my feed and asking them to sign up for my mailing list.

Now at YouTube I only have 2434 subscribers but I can see their YouTube user name/profile and what videos they have uploaded and what videos are their favorites. This has the potential to be valuable but I've not really taken advantage of it yet. At Revver I can't tell how many subscribers I have nor can I tell anything about them.

Having as much information you can about your subscribers that you can share with potential advertisers is very important and moving forward I feel I need to figure out a way to get the kind of info that I have about my subscribers at YouTube on all my delivery channels but beyond that I feel the need to figure out how I can have one feed that I control that is viewable everywhere because I don't want to dilute my feed.

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this.

In the above video Brian Chappell offers a simple how to guide on setting up a basic meta refresh to enable tracking of RSS subscribers via google analytics, for sites that use services like feedburner. It is a great method to track where your sub's are coming from.


Clintus McGintus said...

I am a stats whore and though I don't have even a fraction of the subscribers you have, I am still very much interested in who watches my videos. I love feedburner and what it tells me, but you're right, there are still lots of other feeds out there that peaople use. I know for a fact that some people subscribe to my blip.tv feed instead of my feedburner one.

Great post.

1 Tim Street said...

Thanks Mr. McGintus. I think we need to start thinking about this because we could wake up one day with a million subscribers to a feed of our content that we don't own.