Full vs. Partial Feeds

I just wrote up a post I’m pretty proud of over at Burning Questions. It’s specifically about the full vs. partial feed debate, but from a different perspective than most discussions on the topic. Specifically, I looked at the likelihood of partial feeds generating clickthroughs (low), the ability to increase clickthroughs by adding FeedFlare, and, in a topic near and dear to my heart for a long time now, the ability for an aggregator to look at links between posts in your subscriptions and interpret those links. Once you see it in action (go grab the latest FeedDemon beta if you want to see one take on this), you’ll wonder how you lived without it. It opens up a whole new way to browse your subscriptions.

I’ll be interested in the feedback – this is a topic I talk about quite a bit at SES and elsewhere, and I’m eager to hear others’ take on the subject.

7 responses to “Full vs. Partial Feeds”

  1. trying to monetize your feed is pretty much a useless endeavor. rss ads generate negligable revenue and, as the comment above confirms, partial feeds do not drive folks back to the site.giving away your content via a full feed is basically giving away your content for free. that's exactly what rss was designed for. if your site is ad-supported, and you're worried about lost revenue due to rss, don't have an rss feed.

  2. Matthew – you said “trying to monetize your feed is pretty much a useless endeavo. rss ads generate negligable revenue”. This is just not true. I see the earnings reports we generate each month for the publishers who participate in the FeedBurner Ad Network, and I can assure you that many of the publishers consider the revenue to be quite significant. (This includes many major commercial publishers who are seeing significant revenue gains from RSS advertising.) As with any other advertising medium, the larger your audience and the more engaged they are with your content, the more revenue potential that audience will represent. I don't know what you're basing your assertion on, but it just doesn't square with what I see each month at FeedBurner.As to your second comment: “giving away your content via a full feed is basically giving away your content for free.” I see this differently. While you're certainly enabling people to read your content outside of your site, most publishers who are focusing on revenue have many other ways to generate revenue: lead generation, archived content, events, etc. And the feed (as noted in the original post over at the FeedBurner weblog) can (and for many publishers, does) act as a great driver of attention and activity to those efforts. So while the feed may be giving that particular piece of content away, it's hardly giving all of your content away. I think that's an important distinction.

  3. […] Rick Klau: I think the primary justification often given for partial feeds – that it will drive higher clickthroughs back to the publisher’s site – is off-base. As people subscribe to feeds, they subscribe to more feeds. And that means they’re consuming more content, which means that each click out of the feed reader is taking the reader away from more content. In other words, feed reading is consumption-oriented, not transactionally focused. We’ve seen no evidence that excerpts on their own drive higher clickthroughs. […]

  4. […] partial feed. Feeds are an economic issue. Freakonomics is a book about economics. The economics of partial feeds vs. full feeds has been studied extensively. And according to Feedburner and many Freakonomics blog readers, […]

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