Googleburner? Feedboogle? Fondleburger?

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022007 TechCrunch is carrying an (apparently authoritative) story that Google is to buy Feedburner for an amount estimated at around $100m. It’s not quite $6bn, but it’s a healthy amount.

This is another smart portfolio move from Google, though few companies could justify paying so much for the opportunity to monetize RSS feeds. In Google’s case, the math is easy: Feedburner has around 700,000 feeds under management – that’s a lot of ad impression and click opportunities. Plus, Google gets to integrate feed measurement into GA, automatic instrumentation into Blogger, and even, possibly, some integration with Google Reader, which is the #1 RSS reader in the market.

Measuring RSS usage remains a perennially tricky problem for blog (or other content site) owners. The Feedburner approach is to ‘skin’ the raw RSS feed from the real blog and re-present it with extra widgets (including tracking pixels and ads). When a user clicks on a link in the feed to view the original article online, this click is tracked through an adserver-style redirect, enabling Feedburner to offer the range of reports that it does.

The sharpest technical corner for a blog owner to negotiate in the process of setting up Feedburner is modifying the page meta tag information that tells a browser (such as IE7 or Firefox) what the address of the page’s RSS feed is. Doing this is essential because if you don’t (and the meta tag still points to the page’s ‘native’ feed), RSS subscribers will just pull the native feed and not any of the Feedburner goodness.

But modifying RSS meta tags, whilst not terribly complex, requires some knowledge of HTML. There are still many blog owners for whom the phrase “requires some knowledge of HTML” represents a very, very deep chasm which they know they never have any hope of crossing in their lifetime. So a blogging platform that can auto-generate the meta tag for you is a boon.

2 thoughts on “Googleburner? Feedboogle? Fondleburger?”

  1. Fondleburger? Now that’s creative. ๐Ÿ™‚
    For other real blogging platforms (zing!) Ian there are plugins that make it easier to point feeds to feedburner. I had a plugin by Steve Smith installed on my blog that automatically redirected all the feeds to feedburner. Very wisely feedburner had recently “adopted” this plugin:
    http://blogs.feedburner.com/feedburner/archives/2007/05/feedburner_adopts_twoyearold_r.php
    I suspect for other blogging platforms there will be such efforts to overcome the important issue you have highlighted.
    Overall though the word of RSS (and web pages) is still pretty virgin territory. There is a lot that will change and evolve, and it should be exciting.
    -Avinash.

  2. If you’re ribbing me for using TypePad, Avinash, I shan’t rise to the bait. Anyone who wants to migrate my entire blog to WordPress and save me the time is welcome to contact me ๐Ÿ˜›
    Yes, there are tools that will Feedburnerize your blog feed (even crusty old TypePad has one). But for the great unwashed, even the idea of adding a plug-in brings thoughts of chasms (and the air-speed of an unladen swallow, perhaps) to mind. And as for hosting your own blog server, what do you think I am? Some kind of techie?
    Cheers,
    Ian

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