From the "Dragged Kicking and Screaming" Department
you may have heard about this nonsense being foisted on the freakonomics blog. the quick recap goes like this: the nytimes decided to “partner” with the freakonomics blog. in exchange for this extra clout the times brings to the freaky blog, the steves have to swap out their previous full rss feed for a “summary only” rss feed. the freak-world then exploded.
the nytimes wants to (bless their little hearts) lure people to their website where they can get paid for all the eyeballs. that doesn’t really happen (or so they think) when your rss feed contains the full articles and people don’t need to come to your site for the content.
silly “old media” giant.
while there have been a couple of fail attempts at explaining exactly why it’s better to have full feeds, they really only amount to a steamy pile of “it’s the network effect, dummy” or “just put ads in the feeds!”
you have to spell things like this out for stodgy old bastards, guys. like usual, i’m here and ready to help.
(already covered) reasons why full feeds are better:
- people just like it better. engender love in your users and they’ll end up being happy users and sharing the content — whether that’s someplace like digg or redit or just their own buddy email list. this is basically the “warm and fuzzy” network effect.
- it doesn’t matter because you can put ads in your feeds anyway. poynter talks about this one.
- another poynter goodie is this: “full-text feeds make your content much more findable via all kinds of search engines”
elaborated reasons why full feeds are better:
- the web really is a read/write place. what the hell does that mean? it means that content (the stuff the times likes to wall up) is just the starting point for the conversation. people not only like to read the original content and post their own comments, but they like to read other people’s comments. even full conversations!
the “full feed” isn’t the full content. the full content is story + comments. there’s a reason why of the top 20 sites on the web, 4 are search engines and the other 16 are social media sites. the web has turned into a read and write kinda place.
people don’t read stubs and feel compelled to comment. people don’t read stubs and wonder “what does everyone else think about this?”
putting stupid little stubs in your feed is like training people to skim the headlines. you need to engage them in the content if you’re going to hook them into being interactive on your site.
page views come from reading/posting/following in the comments.
- people hate ads. even moreso, people hate ads in their rss feeds. depressing, eh?
i should clarify — people hate bad ads. people LOVE good ads. people LOVE being part of a movement or a community. there is no better advertising than word of mouth advertising. it’s an ad that comes with a credible recommendation. (maybe there is hope for ads.)
that being said, there is only hope for good, targeted ads. how do you produce targeted ads? well, by fitting the ad in with the context of the content on the page. the more content on the page, the better targeting of the ad. google does this all the time.
take this freakonomics post: Cheating to Be Hot
what ads would probably automatically show up on that post? maybe a bagel shop ad? or a political fundraiser ad for george bush’s rivals? (somebody should put it next to some adsense blocks and see what ads actually show up.) both of those ads would be fairly targeted and i’m sure have a decent click-through.
now, take the times’s feed version of the story:
- so, have you been noticing what i’ve been doing throughout this post? scroll up and count the hyperlinks. see? that’s how the web works. you put these things called “links” in your “html document” and it does this [i’m waving my hands around until finally settling on some air quotes] “hyperlinking” thing.
“so?” you say.
well. in a stub-filled, crap feed with 10 articles, you have 10 links from 10 little paragraphs to 10 stories on your site. with full-text rss hawtness and some sexy cross-story hyperlinking IN ADDITION to putting in “related story” links based on the article’s context, i bet you could pull together 10 links per article.
and, yep — you guessed it — all 100 of them point to your site.
that means, for every 1 piece of content you give away for “free,” you get to put 9 other links to “non-free” content within the same context of the first article the reader is interested in. (assuming they are interested in something they choose to read, that is. people are crazy these days….)
Cheating to Be Hot
Is cheating really so bad, particularly when there’s no punishment involved? Dubner discusses the vote rigging scandal behind the winners of Fishbowl DC’s “Hottest Media Types” contest.
that’s really all there is.
what the hell kind of ads show up there? media ads? fishbowl ads? one thing is for sure, it’s nothing targeted beyond (cross your fingers) at least a “typical demographics for the times’s readership” type of ad.
“but, but, but… ads in our feeds don’t really work!” well… no shit sherlock. i wonder why?
so, there you have it. just a few reasons literally off the top of my head, blathered down in a stream-of-consciousness list on why full-text feeds are better.
and the best part about all of these reasons? your readers love you because you aren’t treating them like criminals or trying to be their ad pimp. i mean, maybe there’d even be a community-sponsored www.spreadnyt.com….