Feeds, revenue, and paying attention.

David and Shawn at adpulp got stuck in to my comment about RSS Feeds. (RSS is a way of sharing the content of a blog or other webspace without folks having to visit the site – see Elise’s summary here for more.) Shawn makes some interesting points in this comment, which looks at the issues of satisfying readers whilst generating some kind of payback.

I don’t have any magic answers to the questions… please treat this as a rambling semi-response.

I know I far prefer a full feed if I can get one. Figuring out how to generate revenue from advertising is not easy and I’m not thinking about it for my own site.

I wonder if this is the trend we’re dealing with: It’s getting harder to persuade people to pay for good content either with their money or with their time for going through the clicks/subscriptions etc. Not impossible, but harder.

The way I use the web, I’m fairly focussed on a kind of dialogue with other bloggers where we’re all sharing on a like-for-like basis. I engage with their content because I’m interested and we pay each other not money but attention. Sometimes that attention is not made manifest in comments or clickthroughs, but it’s there. We’re getting/giving a lot of attention and no money is changing hands. We each bear the (for me anyway) relatively small cost of our own bandwidth as the admission price to this talkfest.

For David and Shawn, maybe a different set of criteria apply because AdPulp sounds like more than a blogger, though not on the scale of a major business (not yet, anyway!).

I’ll add that for me, my blog has actually “monetised” but in a quite unexpected way. In the form of a well-paid international research project, courtesy of a fellow blogger, Jennifer Rice. I’d never have known Jennifer but for our casual swapping of ideas and comments in blogs.

Advertising seems like a very transactional way to monetise a form that can be so powerful for creating relationship: and relationships have value beyond money – but in my case they’ve included it too.

UPDATE: Some good comments below (Note to self: Offer a comments feed soon) and consider this by Tony Pierce (via Doc Searls)

and i thought thank god my readers dont give a shit about ads on the busblog – and they probably would prefer them to me asking them for their hard earned cash.

let the corporations pay, they’d probably say.

5 thoughts on “Feeds, revenue, and paying attention.

  1. Paul Goodison

    Work is vital – is it better to get work as you have from Jennifer because you have “found” each other and acknowledge the value in the partnership than from an ad?

    It is surely more satisfying to get the work.

    When you come here Johnnie – you will be able to stay all over North America with your blog pals – that is an offer. It’s not money but is worth a lot of money and also will be more fun.


    I find it so interesting how your basic comment generated such a lot of interest. Personally I have a full feed and will contiue to do so because I am about using my site to generate friends and contacts and most importantly conversations and ideas. BUT I also have some Ads to generate a little cash basically to pay for the site.

    However wouldn’t you say that your site is one long ‘advert’ for the Johnnie Moore brand? Hence from those bloggers who have a high visibility personality online it is an extension of networking / personal branding exercise. Those others who seek to ‘monetise’ their site are utilising a different model.

    I would have thought that advertising on a site is just that. If advertisers wish to advertise on the RSS feed then offer a sponsorship deal or as mentioned in previous comments product(services) placement in blog articles.

    Mind you, I haven’t received any money from promoting Beyond Branding, although I think Johnnie did buy me a coffee… 🙂

  2. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks for the smart comments. Like Paul, I’m enjoying how a throwaway post has generated this much interest. What happens in my blog often surprises me.

    I don’t want to set up that it’s either ads or relationship, I’m sure it’s fine to do both in any combination. I was trying to make the modest statement that for me personally, the relationship value way exceeds what I might get from ads. As for others, may a thousand flowers bloom.

    Shawn’s comment on the original post also threw up some good points about the technical confusion around RSS which I didn’t respond to but are certainly interesting.

    As for Paul’s comment that my site is one long advert for Johnnie Moore…. what can I say?

  3. Paul Goodison

    I hope that wasn’t perceived as an attack? It was meant to be ‘stating the obvious’; the audience and objectives for this site are different to that of adpulp. And as you say ‘may a thousand flowers bloom’. Diversity is beautiful.

    If RSS feeds are ‘interesting’ then people will click thru anyway I would of thought. After all many click thru to post comments here.

  4. Tom Guarriello

    I’m probably in the minority here, but, the experience of reading a blog post in NetNewsWire’s preview window is very different than reading the same post in Safari. Graphics, images, all the design elements are stripped away…practically back to ASCII! Sometimes I want to see pretty pictures!

    In addition, I don’t have any ads on my blog, but want people to click through so that I can track traffic for my own psychic reward purposes. When I started blogging in May I started keeping track of how many visitors I had per week as a rough gauge of interest in what I have to say. So, I guess the question I have is, do readers gathering feeds through RSS count as site hits (in TypePad’s stat counts, that is) in the same way as click throughs?

  5. Johnnie Moore

    Tom: Good question on the stats. I have to admit my stats are a mystery. It’s hard for me to separate out the impact of RSS hits, spam commenters, spam referrers etc etc.

    Paul, thanks again. I can only speak for myself – I do click thru some intriguing extracts but I engage more with full feeds.


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