Yesterdays Feedburner report surrounding reader engagement has left me with a lot of questions about assumptions and premises that we take for granted. I blogged about the report, but let me take a few minutes to ask some deeper questions.
To date, the assumption has been made that a site producing content is the nexus of all activity surrounding that content. With that premise, we have developed all our technologies, marketing strategies and SEO techniques around sending traffic to and around the site. In fact, most of bloggers ad revenue is formulated around CPM (impression based ads), CPC (click based ads) and to some degree CPA (affiliate, sales-based ads) which cater to traffic to and around a site. One has to wonder how these ad models could be used any other way, and that question would be valid. You see, if the premise is faulty, everything we do based on that premise will also be faulty.
Now I don’t want to claim any kind of expertise in the area of web marketing and content promotion, much less ad strategies, however I do wonder if maybe we measure the success of our content reach in the wrong form of metric. When we publish blog entries and the entries go out to the world in a feed, how do we know what a reader does with that entry. And not knowing what the reader does with it, can we say with any degree of certainty that the entry was successful in reaching the audience. Can we define “reaching the audience”?
Chances are you’re like most people and say that “reaching the audience” and “conversion rate” all have to do with whether the reader clicks back over to your site. Right? Say yes. But what if I said that your site isn’t important? What if I said that if your site got out of the way, your reach might be enhanced? I wonder if clicks back to the site might only be a portion of the metric? What about clicks to other sites from your feed? Can you measure that? What about syndication arrangements? If your blog is appearing in multiple other aggregated streams, is the value of your site and that supposed nexus important to the reader? We know it’s important to you. You’re getting CPM ads. But there’s the faulty premise again.
Imagine if someone began a blog that would not function as a normal blog. Imagine if it was RSS only. In fact, clicking over to the site would display no content. Content could only be received via RSS subscription. Without the crutches of Digg and del.icio.us, and SEO – could a blogger succeed based on reach, compelling content and mindset shift? I don’t know. It’s a question.