May 14 2005

Feedburner clarified

David Jackson, who is the author of The Internet Stock Blog (as well as a series of other blogs on investing and technology), was kind enough to add me to his recommended VC blog list. As part of our exchange about this I noticed that he hadn’t ‘burned’ his feeds through Feedburner (which is a Mobius backed company). I asked him why he hadn’t done this and he replied with some really good questions about their service.  I thought I would reprint them here, along with my responses with the idea that if David, as a sophisticated blogger, had these questions other people probably do as well.

David writes:
I’ve resisted using Feedburner, because:
1. It’s not clear to me how to migrate my current RSS feeds to them (without asking everyone to re-subscribe)
2. The company’s web site gives very little information about the service
3. I’m nervous entrusting my RSS feed to a company that might try to monetize it in future in ways I don’t want
4. I expect that Google’s RSS ads will end up providing fairly rich stats about the RSS feeds anyway

Here’s my response (actually in two e-mails, which I’ve combined here): 1. If you have control over the http directives on your site you can burn your feed without any change to your subscribers. See this post from the Feedburner forum

2. I totally agree – their site pretty much sucks. I expect this will take some time to change, but they’re starting to hire up (they were 5 guys when we made our investment – we’re up to 10 and growing).

3. I get the concern, but can tell you that they absolutely won’t do anything to your feed that you don’t request. Here’s Feedburner CEO Dick Costolo’s post on the financing that talks about their business model – They are going to make money by managing feeds, by offering premium statistics and by taking a cut of ads in feeds (but ads will only be inserted in feeds that sign up for them).

4. Google stats I think will only provide you stats on the ads themselves, not the feeds. FB’s total stats pro package provides pretty in depth info on what people are reading and where they are coming from (you can trial this package on their site). Also with Google ads you have to have edit the source template, which is a pain (and something not everyone is able to do) and also means that you have to insert feeds into all of your posts (given the way most readers work, FB generally only inserts feeds in a portion of feeds to keep the content to ad ratio reasonable).

Don’t know if I convinced David to move over to Feedburner or not, but he knows I’ll keep on him . . .

Look for announcements soon from Feedburner on some very large feeds now using their service.

UPDATE: I received a trackback ping from Dadu Mimram writing on Strategic Board Blg – a great perspective from a Feedburner user and much more eloquent than my original post.  See Dadu’s post here.