What RSS needs to do for the business of blogs

What RSS needs to do for the business of blogs

: RSS needs to do some important things to serve the business of blogs.

As I noted yesterday, my RSS file now gets more traffic than my HTML blog page. But, of course, that doesn’t mean it gets more readers, since RSS aggregators check for updates frequently. I’d be eager to hear from RSS experts (which I’m certainly not!) on whether it can be made to do these things:

1. RSS feeds need to include a counting gif (visible or invisible) that can be tallied by stats programs when the feed is actually displayed (and, it’s assumed, read). If it’s not a counting gif but is something newer, cool. But it needs to be counted when displayed.

2. RSS readers/aggregators/web services need to display that gif (that is, display HTML) so it can be counted. (If RSS readers cannot or do not display HTML and thus cannot display the counting gif, then they should report themselves as nonHTML.)

3. Stats programs (including SiteMeter) need to be able to tally those RSS counting gifs.

4. If ads are served in RSS, then they will need to carry their own counting gifs so advertisers can verify their ads were displayed (an absolute minimum for serving ads in feeds). As noted here, advertisers demand flight audits.

5. Can RSS aggregators and associated clients support cookies? That will be important to count unique audience (and to target and personalize content and advertising).

Without all this, anyone who’s trying to make money via web content will be disinclined to put up content on RSS or to put up complete content (they’ll put up just heads to drive links back to HTML pages, but that’s a pain for everyone).

I said at RSS Winterfest that I am looking at rearchitecting all the content on my day-job sites as feeds (read: RSS); I think it’s the way to go. But RSS needs to be enabled for traffic and audience stats and auditing.

I now leave this to better minds than mine…