FeedBurner announced Total Stats PRO, its premium statistics package, offering per-item statistics and referrer reports among other features. The new service is an up-sell from the company’s standard statistics offering starting at $5 a month. I do not use FeedBurner but I signed up for a trial account so I could review their new features.
FeedBurner tracks the each item through the use of a web bug. The web bug is the URL of the feed with a parameter of
g with a numeric value equal to what I am guessing is the post identifier in the FeedBurner database. Example: http://feeds.feedburner.com/FeedName?g=XXX
I have thought about the web bug approach to tracking feeds on an individual item basis but it really doesn’t work. When you load a site in your feed aggregator it loads every item but you may not actually view every item or even mark it as read. If you publish your most recent 15 posts every time a user loads the feed your web bugs will load 15 times even if the user only views the first item. What you need is the ability to determine a per-item focus. There may be no way to capture the statistics from users viewing a feed while not connected to the Internet without the assistance of desktop aggregator developers.
FeedBurner tracks the referral URL of each 302 redirect they serve and makes this data available to its premium subscribers. They promote this feature as a way to track who is republishing your feeds, a feature that may cause copyright advocates to open their wallet. This feature only functions if the site republishing a feed uses link attribution and ignores the
feedburner:origLink element within the feed pointing to the item’s permalink.
I wonder if publishers utilizing FeedBurner would like to be able to publicize they are a Pro customer on their site graphics or if they would rather not disclose their tracking levels.
If hosted services such as TypePad or Blogware are not already thinking about how to integrate more statistics into their own interface the idea that some of their users are now paying an extra $5 a month for an outside service may be enough motivation to get the job done.
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