SOHH.com: A Case of Measuring Content’s Impact with FeedBurner

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The Digital Content Solution

SOHH.com implemented a suite of FeedBurner tools that provide the site a complete glimpse into the uses (and users) of its content and help the site monetize its offerings in the process.

FeedBurner's StandardStats is an analytics tool that enables Samuel and his partner, Felicia Palmer, to learn exactly how SOHH.com is being used and how many subscribers view that content. SOHH.com can track its most popular feed items (such as the blog post with the most clicks) as well as live hits (it can identify the number of hits recorded in the last minute from a particular geographic region). StandardStats also offers a breakdown of the number of feed readers/aggregators, browsers, email services, and bots that access SOHH.com's content. Data can be collected by day, week, month, or all-time.

FeedBurner's StandardStats is an analytics tool that enables Samuel and his partner, Felicia Palmer, to learn exactly how SOHH.com is being used and how many subscribers view that content. SOHH.com can track its most popular feed items (such as the blog post with the most clicks) as well as live hits (it can identify the number of hits recorded in the last minute from a particular geographic region). StandardStats also offers a breakdown of the number of feed readers/aggregators, browsers, email services, and bots that access SOHH.com's content. Data can be collected by day, week, month, or all-time.

SOHH.com can immediately use that data to build its web presence. Samuel says that if he notices a particular hip hop site is receiving a lot of traffic from SOHH.com regarding a specific topic, he can contact the webmaster of that site and offer a custom feed on that topic. "We have about four hundred RSS feeds that are all done dynamically based on what you want to see," says Samuel. Ten of those feeds are listed on the SOHH.com home page. "Those change every day," adds Samuel. "They'll change as we get stories that pertain to each particular artist."

"From a publisher's standpoint, you have to be able to say ‘this particular story really didn't do that well last week. I don't think we should follow up on it. This other story did exceptionally well. We should follow up on it.'" says Samuel. "If you post a story at nine o'clock, you'll notice that eight thousand people read it in the first few minutes as opposed to at noon, when you get five hundred people. I wouldn't say we mastered the science, but we know we get more traffic at nine o'clock and when people come to our site, they want to see the latest news." Samuel says SOHH.com publishes three times a day; breaking news is added to the site immediately, while the RSS feeds are updated automatically.

FeedBurner's FeedFlare helps SOHH.com make its feeds more robust and interactive by enabling subscribers to tag and email content as well as share it with their contacts—with just one click. SOHH.com also uses FeedFlare to offer content within other social networks such as Digg and del.icio.us. FeedFlare also allows subscribers to see how many comments a particular post has received and the number of blogs that link to a specific feed.

That content is also becoming more profitable for SOHH.com since the site signed on with FeedBurner's Ad Network. According to Parrillo, FeedBurner and its publishing clients share the revenue generated by the ads: publishers claim 65%, while FeedBurner takes 35%. Samuel says the ad revenue generated through FeedBurner's ad network represents five to eight percent of SOHH.com's monthly income, exceeding his expectations.

That's not the only benefit of this type of ad program, adds Samuel. "There are more visual impressions as opposed to click-through impressions," he says. "The problem with click-through campaigns is someone can see the ad on your site and then shut down their computer. A month later, [they may recall that ad] and check the advertiser's site on their own, so you don't get the click-through." While FeedBurner works to supply advertising to clients that is relevant to their audience, Samuel notes that FeedBurner allows publishers to decline particular ads from their feeds. In addition to participating in FeedBurner's ad network, SOHH.com also has its own in-house ad sales force that concentrates on advertising for the main site.

But none of this matters if RSS feeds don't operate correctly. SOHH.com also uses FeedBurner's SmartFeed tool that ensures the publisher's feed is compatible with any web-based news reader (such as MyYahoo! and NewsGator) a subscriber could use.

The Outcome

SOHH.com has substantially grown the subscriber base of its RSS news feeds in less than one year. In March 2006, the news feed had 100 subscribers; as of February 2007, there were about 5,000. Samuel attributes some of that growth to overall internet users' increased knowledge of and interest in the RSS technology. SOHH.com utilizes a BrowserFriendly feature from FeedBurner that enables a one-click subscription option for site visitors.

Being able to track content views has proven invaluable for SOHH.com. "The concept of a page view is going to be less and less significant when you're faced with the idea of audience engagement," says Parrillo. "You're going to want to know each piece of content and who interacted with that content. Those are more like content views than page views."

Samuel declined to discuss specifics, but says that SOHH.com is currently in discussions with FeedBurner to add more of the company's technological offerings to the hip hop site.

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