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Read Books via RSS (& e-mail) with DailyLit

Posted on August 8, 2007
Filed Under Books, Media, Media 2.0 | 6 Comments

DailyLitDailyLit truly puts a new spin on reading by allowing users to subscribe to books via e-mail or RSS. Once the user/reader subscribes to a book DailyLit sends a chunk of the book to them each day until the book is finished. The feeds are even customizable which means each user can decide their own delivery frequency and even read ahead if they have some extra time on their hands.

How long does it take to get through a book this way you ask? Here is your answer straight from the DailyLit FAQs:

That depends on three factors. First, on how many installments are in the book (shown when you browse for books). Second, on how frequently you choose to receive emails. Third, on how often you read more than one installment (by using the “send me the next installment immediately” feature). So here is a typical example. I am currently reading Dracula, which has 187 installments and I am receiving installments on weekdays, i.e. 5 days/week. So at most it will take me 187/5 = 37 weeks. But when I am on the train or waiting, I often read more than one installment, so I usually wind up reading about 10 installments/week. This means I will finish Dracula in about 19 weeks or 5 months. If that seems long to you, try something shorter!

The initial thing that got me excited about DailyLit was that they delivered the book content via a feed since I realized how easy it would be to slide a small chunk of a book into my feed reading each day and, thus, read more books. The e-mail delivery is also great as it widens the possible audience to people that may not understand feeds (hard to believe I know but there are still RSS ignorant people out there…) or who may have feed readers blocked on their office computers.

It looks like DailyLit is currently providing older books presumably because they are part of the public domain so DailyLit doesn’t have to worry about copyright issues. Hopefully they will work out content deals in the future to get new(er) books as well since reading in this manner will likely help a lot of busy people be able to read even more. I know I would definitely pay for that service. How much I’m not sure but there is probably a market out there for this beyond me.

Kudos to Chris for the tip.


Feeds: The Publishers Enemy?

Posted on August 3, 2007
Filed Under Media, Media 2.0 | 1 Comment

Some in the blogosphere have speculated that feeds are not a friend of the publisher and the reasons why they believe that feeds are the enemy can be summed up in three bullet points:

These things are all true… right now. What I think people forget or choose not to acknowledge is the future and what feeds could and will become.

A good analog to the situation we currently see with feeds and web sites would be that of the web and newspapers 10 years ago.

When the web started to gain traction and more content began to appear on it the newspapers took notice and started to develop web sites. However, they were unsure of how much to give consumers on the web since, you guessed it, the following issues were staring them in the face:

The newspapers still pushed forward though in the hopes that web sites would drive people to become print subscribers and we all know how well that worked out and that is to say not well. This is another analog to the current world of feeds in fact.

There are some who think publishing limited content in the feed will drive users to their sites but we at FeedBurner have found that to be untrue just as it was for web sites driving print subscriptions.

Do feeds have a way to go? Sure. Are they changing the way content is consumed for more and more people every day? Yes. That said, I don’t think feeds are any publishers enemy and I don’t think any publisher looking at the long term view would disagree. Feeds are a publishers best friend.


Pubvertising is Here: Publish and Advertise in One Place

Posted on August 3, 2007
Filed Under FeedBurner, Media, Media 2.0 | Leave a Comment

AdverblishWe’ve been wanting to introduce pubvertising on a wider scale for some time now and I am excited it is finally out there.

The whole concept behind pubvertising - or publishing + advertising - is pretty simple. We want to allow publishers who are using our tools to easily be able to create an ad that contains their feed content which they can then easily place in the FeedBurner Ad Network.

These ads are designed to drive awareness of the publishers content and drive subscriptions to their feed(s). What better place to find feed subscribers than other feeds right?

The tool that publishers can use to create their ad is called Headline Animator. Headline Animator allows any publisher using FeedBurner to create a completely custom graphic that will include their latest feed headlines.

Right now we are setting the sizes of ads publishers can place to 468×60 and 468×120. You can see some examples below. Also, make sure to read the official FeedBurner post on pubvertising as it says things with more wit than I can. It also provides much more detail than this post does in case you’re interested in giving this concept a shot.


The Quest for Engagement: Moving Past Pageviews

Posted on July 12, 2007
Filed Under Web, Web 2.0, Media, Media 2.0 | Leave a Comment

I was scrolling through the old feed reader the other day (I was a way, way behind on that) and I caught Andrew Parker’s post on the death of the page view. Looks like Neilsen has decided to do away with pageviews in favor of a “time spent” metric. Andrew brings up an interesting point about both of these metrics and what they inherently value which I believe is worth quoting in full here:

But, why would Nielsen replace page views with the “time spent” metric? When everyone focused on page views, it rewarded companies like Myspace for requiring clicking through 10 pages just to update your profile. Now, if time spent becomes the new default metric, then sites like Myspace will be rewarded for their slow, cumbersome interfaces that needlessly waste your time. Whereas, a site like Google would be punished for having a speedy, easy interface that prioritizes getting you where you want to go, not keeping you on Google’s site.

He makes a good point. We need to start figuring out how to measure good traffic instead of just traffic. Advertisers are getting smarter and smarter each day and they are going to demand better from us in the metrics space. I am also sure that advertisers will quickly figure out the major inherent flaw in the “time spent” metric that Andrew points out. That is leaving pages open in general or leaving pages open across multiple tabs in a browser when you aren’t looking at them (which both he and I do each and every day).

Andrew then talks a bit about what we built at FeedBurner (by we I mean our awesome engineering team) and some of the flaws there. He’s spot on since we are really focusing on the feed and our current site analytics are not super useful for people who don’t use a blog platform to publish (but they are very useful for blog publishers). However, I do think the feed will begin to power more and more things for publishers and that is where things get interesting in the way of analytics (see my post “Publish Once” for more).

If feeds are powering widgets, e-mail delivery of content, feed readers, syndication, etc. then we are in a great position to fully measure the audience and its’ engagement and tie things back to the site analytics. We’re a ways out from this of course but it is coming and it should get us closer to the holy grail of audience engagement.

In the meantime, Andrew suggests looking into qualitative methods of measuring the web. That’s an interesting concept and it could add a lot of value to advertisers if qualitative metrics were developed and used in conjunction with quantitative metrics. I am not sure what the qualitative side of things would look like but I’ll keep thinking about that notion.


Publish Once

Posted on June 18, 2007
Filed Under Web, Web 2.0, Media, Media 2.0 | Leave a Comment

Feed IconPublish once. That has been my mantra for a while now but I find myself saying it to publishers more and more lately. What does it mean? It means that publishers should publish their content once and then let feeds carry it to many different places.

From what I see publishers still seem to be spending a lot of time on things that feeds could take care of automatically. That’s a shame not to mention it’s inefficient and a waste of time and money.

E-mail is a good example of a place where feeds can do the heavy lifting but a lot of publishers have yet to take advantage of that fact. If a publisher already produces feeds of their content then there is no need to spend a lot of time on creating e-mails. The publisher can simply allow the feed to produce and send e-mails with FeedBurner E-mail Subscriptions or another feed-to-e-mail service. FeedBurner will then add the e-mail stats to the other stats so that the publisher can analyze their audience in a more complete manner.

Widgets are another great example of a place where feeds can be the content delivery mechanism. Take my resyndicate page for example - any of those widgets can be used to resyndicate my content and they are all powered by the feed. I publish once (to my blog) and my feed carries my content to subscribers both via newsreaders and via e-mail, to widgets that appear on different sites across the web and to a host of services that list my blog.

What’s also great about allowing the feed to do the work is that the statistics start to become a lot more complete. If the feed powers everything (but the site) then metrics can be provided that will encompass the feed consumption via feed reader, via e-mail, via widget, etc. Combine that with site analytics and the total content picture, a.k.a audience engagement, starts to become a lot clearer.

I am sure there will be many more places the feed can take content as time goes on so I hope publishers will continue to realize the power of feeds and use them as the content delivery mechanism more often. In the end of the day feeds will allow publishers to save time and money and they’ll also lead to more complete analytics that will get publishers closer to an overall view of audience engagement.


The FOOA Conference: Advertising Pricing Models

Posted on June 10, 2007
Filed Under Web, Web 2.0, Media, Media 2.0 | 2 Comments

FOOAI attended the Future of Online Advertising conference in NYC this past Thursday and one of the topics was advertising pricing models on the web. We’ve all heard the debate before. Should CPM, CPC, CPA, CP whatever be the pricing model? What model is the most efficient? Luckily Kim Malone of Google tackled the subject in her presentation and I think what she said made a lot of sense (and no, it’s not because I work for Google now - thought I should throw in the disclaimer).

She looked at the three main online ad models of CPM, CPC and CPA and discussed how they all make sense depending on what it is the advertiser is looking to accomplish. Kim looked at the pricing models as a funnel where CPM was at the top of the funnel (reach a ton of people to build brand) and CPA was at the end of the funnel (reach the folks looking to buy the product/service now). The basic idea was this:

CPM should be used if the advertiser is simply trying to make people aware of their products and services (i.e. build their brand). CPC should be used if people are aware of the product/service and the advertiser is looking for people to take some sort of action (visit the website, fill out a survey, etc.). CPA should be used if the advertiser is only interested in creating conversions (sales) and is not very interested in extending awareness of their brand.

That is an over simplification of course but you get the idea. All of the pricing models work together to help advertisers achieve what they need to achieve so the arguments over whether or not CPM makes sense and if CPA is the new CPC are simply non-issues. The ad pricing model really all depends on what the advertiser is trying to accomplish at a given time (and on what the media type is - i.e. CPM tends to work best in feeds as feeds are a brand building media).


Joost: I’ve Got Invites

Posted on May 9, 2007
Filed Under Media, Media 2.0 | 29 Comments

Joost™ the best of tv and the internetI have been playing around with Joost, the new TV-over-the-internet platform formally known as the Venice Project (next they’ll be going by a weird logo I think and no name), for a while now. I was psyched to start using it mainly since I no longer have cable TV (yes, it’s by choice). I have enjoyed my Joost experience so far and as they get more content deals done I think they will continue to pick up users pretty quickly.

Let’s cut to the case. Joost was invite only for its’ whole life and it still is but they recently gave all their beta testers unlimited invites so if you’d like an invite please shoot me a note (eric [at] ericjohnolson.com) and I’ll get one to you. After you check out the platform I’d love to hear what you think of it so make sure to comment on this post.


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