free html hit counter More on My Feed (Non) Experiment - John Battelle's Search Blog

More on My Feed (Non) Experiment

By - April 19, 2007

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Well, despite several supporting voices, it’s clear a large percentage of you, at least those who commented, would be quite unhappy if I turned my feed into excerpts. I hear you.

There were several good points and questions. First, yes, my feed does have ads, from Feedburner, an FM and Searchblog partner. But Feedburner does not approach marketing the way FM does, and while we are great partners, the marketers that FM works with are less interested in feeds and more in site-specific advertising. That’s not to say Feedburner’s approach is less valuable, not at all. It’s just that on the site, brand marketers can do far more, and to be honest, many are more comfortable in that environment in terms of execution and such. FB sells categories and scale, FM sells specific sites, conversational marketing, and integrated programs. Both work, and most marketers do both.

Many of you noted that you’ll click through from a full text feed and that drives a lot of site traffic. That’s entirely true. The experiment was an attempt to see if excerpts would drive significantly more, while not alienating my readership. From the results of my very unscientific poll, I’d clearly be alienating at least a very vocal minority.

I’m not eager to do that. It’s why I asked in the first place, after all. I may try this as an experiment in any case (or an A/B test, if I can find the time to set it up!), and those of you who swore you’d delete my feed – gimme a chance to learn something!

If I don’t do that, I have another idea I might try….

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5 thoughts on “More on My Feed (Non) Experiment

  1. Stephen says:

    Your feed is now undeleted. 🙂

  2. Jeff Ruley says:

    I like the tease of what is yet to come. You should have done that in the first place, just implemented the partial feeds, post a couple times, then have one where you apologize because something isn’t working right. Then you could get your test and see how much people would hang with you. Too bad you can’t do that now, because I’m on to you. 😉

  3. Soren G says:

    I am surprised more people do a full feed. The hard part comes when people get used to one thing, then you try to change. My sense is that if you are going to do it, the sooner the better.

  4. iMario says:

    I’m in support of the partial feed. I use Windows Live personal home page and get partial feeds anyway, and I’m (almost) always (happily) clicking through to As an online publisher myself, I realize pageviews are lifeblood. And I’d rather clickthrough to your site than have no searchblog (or have to pay for it).

    This issue reminds me of the Wall Street Journal. How have they managed to thrive with a walled garden while others have failed? A large part of it is they have ALWAYS charged… it’s tough to switch formats mid-course.

    And from the responses I’ve been reading on this topic, it looks like a full-to-partial feed transition would be tough for searchblog.

    I say work the ads-in-feeds angle… get advertisers used to doing this, b/c this is where we’re headed… people (increasingly) want information in their own, self-controlled environment… give it to ’em, give ’em ads, and keep publishing a great blog.

  5. Jim Schuyler says:

    I think it depends on “where you do your work” (or maybe I mean “where you do your reading”). Apparently a lot of hard-core RSS folks read the whole post right on the RSS feed, whereas I prefer my (incoming) feeds to be either summaries (or teasers) and short rather than contain the entire post. I can pretty much judge from the teaser whether I want to read the entire post.

    I read feeds in NetNewsWire most of the time, and because it (Mac version of NNW, that is) “contains” a full web browser I can always click and read the whole post in the same window anyway without leaving NNW – or I can launch it in Safari if there’s something in the page that doesn’t render in NNW. And I have Safari up anyway all the time because I bookmark tons of stuff for later reference – so I can’t bookmark a blog post unless I open it in Safari ultimately – so having to to read is just fine with me.

    On the “supplier side” I do my blogging in WordPress, and because I always use the {more} option in my posts, I can’t have my whole post in the RSS feed anyway – WP automatically cuts the content at the {more} when creating the RSS feed items. But that’s the way I like it – short excerpt and {click} if I want to read more.

    So there’s my (contrarian) voice on this matter.