Steven Schwartz from Reuters is up, discussing the changing nature of news, syndication, and publishing. Schwartz is from the Direct to Consumer portion of Reuters. One of the main things they are dealing with is the emergence of citizen journalists, who can be immediately on the spot when something happens.
Where this hits Reuters is right in the ad model - as alternative journalism rises, that revenue stream gets threatened. Internet advertising is growing, as is consumer spending online. The average consumer spent $100 online last year - and that's given that only 12% of the (US) population is confortable spending money online. Meaning, it's only going to get bigger.
What Reuters is really after is the influentials in the blogosphere. Now here's the interesting part to me - he's talking about how they are leading in RSS distribution. However, I dropped all my Reuters feeds recently. Why? Because they were all partial feeds, requiring me to click through to the site. I've dropped most of the bloggers who do that too. Now, I'm an edge case, since I use an aggregator. Will people who read RSS only via "My Yahoo" (etc) care? If the headline is in the browser, following the link may not seem like much. We'll see - but I dislike link blogs too. I really think that mass customization of ads (i.e., ads that we actually want to see) combined with full text (video, etc) feeds are the answer.
"Consumers as partners" and "everyone is a journalist". Hmm. He says that the issue with citizen journalism is that facts may be lacking. Interesting then that the mainstream media is bleeding subscribers. He's right that people want authority, but wrong in thinking that the MSM has it.
As the RSS publishing and advertising marketplace evolves, it is important to monitor the indicators such as click-through rates, which are normalizing; RSS ad performance, which remains strong; and most importantly, how RSS consumers are interacting with feed content.
Advertisers and publishers need to engage the RSS consumer at the aggregator or feed reader level. That's where the relationship is -- not at the website. Hoping for a click-through by publishing summary feed content is not a viable content monetization strategy in an RSS-enabled publishing model. This is good news for publishers who are evaluating opportunities for RSS feed advertising, and good news for advertisers seeking to reach information consumers in this growing channel.
Full-Text Feeds and Summary Feeds Garner Similar Click-Through Rates (CTR)
Summary feeds (full content not shown in the feed item) average at 12% CTR while full-text feeds average 10% CTR. The report states that the median CTR for full-text feeds remains at 10% while summary feeds drop to 8% CTR due to extremely high CTR rates in certain categories and individual feeds.
If that data holds up, then the entire justification for summary feeds just falls flat. There are charts and more data over on Dana's site. Very interesting stuff. If summary feeds don't generate significantly more (or even less!) click throughs, it really calls the concept into question.