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Are Pageviews Still Relevant for Bloggers?

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There’s a mini-hullabolu happening (don’t you just love Techmeme on the weekends!) over the emergence of Shyftr, a new service where you can read blog posts and comment on them.

The discussion centres around whether this is content theft given the content and the conversation are both happening somewhere other than your blog. No doubt, it’s an intriguing issue given the emergence of RSS as popular, although not yet ubiquitous distribution and consumption vehicle, and social aggregators, are changing the role that blogs play.

You can get “the dirt” on Shyftr from Louis Gray, Tony Hung and Mathew Ingram but the angle that I want to explore is whether all the activity happening outside someone’s blog is making page views irrelevant.

Let’s face, most bloggers are stat whores – checking several times a day to see the number of page views for their latest masterpiece. Many of us are also feed junkies on the notion that the more RSS subscribers, the better.

The reality, however, is RSS and social aggregators such as Shyftr could see the traffic on many blogs decline dramatically. This is bad news if you’re into page views and worse news if you want to generate any kind of advertising revenue. I can already tell you that this blog generates, at best, a modest number of page views as most people get the content through an RSS reader.

In some ways, it’s frustrating because you want people to come into your “home” and see what you’ve done with the place (e.g. a use-friendly design, cool widgets, an interesting blogroll, etc.) But the reality is the action is happening outside the house so what are you going to do?

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  • http://www.deepjiveinterests.com Tony Hung

    It sounds like by saying “pageviews are irrelevant” you’re also saying “… because there is the threat that everything is happening off blog”.

    The corollary of that is that (if you want to take things to the n’th extreme): bloggers don’t get pageviews which are a means of measuring traffic, which could be a surrogate for the ability to sell ads, or generally as a means to monetize their work; further, they don’t get the benefit of hosting the conversation either.

    So, what *do* bloggers get a benefit from if neither are being hosted by them?

    The ethereal notion that somewhere some people are talking about what they started?

    – and because places like Friendfeed don’t have trackbacks, sometimes you don’t even *KNOW* that people are talking?

    Having conversations off-blog is okay with me. Talking more broadly, however, and taking things to a logical extreme (a contradiction in terms?) it could make blogging a lonelier existance that it could be, and provide one more hurdle for beginning bloggers who aren’t as savvy.

    … just a thought. :)

    cheers
    t @ dji

  • http://blog-o-blog.com Zac Echola

    This conversation wears on me.

    You complainers are starting to sound like green marketers and politicos. “We need to control the conversation! How dare they talk about OUR product in ways we have not sanctioned!”

    I mean, really. Come on. We’ve all read Cluetrain. When conversation and media are the same thing, of course it’s going to fragment. The disrupters have been disrupted, no?

    I wrote about this during the last flare-up.

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  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

    Tony: I think you’re right. I guess it really comes to do figuring out why people blog in the first place given that with the exception of a few people, it doesn’t pay the bills. If you enjoy writing and being part of the conversation somewhere, blog away!

    Zac: I’m not complaining about where the conversation is happening. I’m simply pointing out that the impact of having the conversation elsewhere is that blogs will likely see fewer page views.

  • http://blog.quintura.com Yakov

    If no page views, how do you sell ads then?

  • http://derrickkwa.com/ Derrick Kwa

    Agree with Tony on this. For me, at least, it’s about being part of the conversation.

    The question is, how do you track the conversation? There are so many places it’s happening, how do you keep track of where the conversations are happening? If I blog a post, people can comment on it on Stumbleupon, FriendFeed, Twitter, or on the blog itself. What I would like is a way to aggregate all this, or at least a way to keep track of all of it.

    Do you have any suggestions?

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  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

    Derrick: I think what you’re talking about is probably being cooked up in someone’s basement as we speak.

    :)

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  • http://pulp.davidvgonzales.com David Gonzales

    I agree with you Mark, and I hope more bloggers realize this. But just what do you want to happen to Shyftr then? Certainly they can’t kill their company just because bloggers feel bad about their service. Right?

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  • http://www.treehuggingfamily.com Jennifer

    I’ve seen a lot of comments about this topic today that say, “I don’t care where my post is read, so long as people read it.”

    The problem with a deal like Shyftr is that they don’t know which feeds are blogs run by paid bloggers and which are run by the folks who don’t care. They just provide them, they don’t look into them.

    I pay all my bills with blogging, support my son with blogging, so page views matter in a big fat way to me. Not all my blogs pay page views, some pay flat salary, however, a decent amount pay me at least partially by page view. I think to bloggers like me the page view issue is highly relevant. And I agree with Tony, on the blogs I own, ads are related to pv.

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  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

    Jennifer:

    I hear where you’re coming from but the question is what’s the solution. If all your content is being made available in other places, then how do you monetize your content rather than the service using your content? If money matters to bloggers, it may be time for them to take back their content and start demanding that other services get their permission to use it and/or share the wealth.

    Mark

  • http://www.treehuggingfamily.com Jennifer

    Mark, true. Last night I was thinking about this; such as what protocol my different clients and networks have in place to handle something like this, since it will (or likely could) affect the bottom line for many bloggers. They shut down scraper sites but this is a different deal. I left magazine and business writing for blogging (which I love a lot more) but stuff like this does make me pause over that decision. I never had to deal with content theft with magazines, I’d write, get paid, it’d be done. I agree that we need better solutions for blogger content – now it comes down to thinking some solutions up.

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  • http://www.plagiarismtoday.com Jonathan Bailey

    The issue, in my opinion, comes down to blogger choice. Companies, like Shyftr should not forcibly take away the choice that bloggers have in how their content is displayed. If services like Shyfter ultimate benefit bloggers, than those who partner will them will thrive while others will fail. The market is faster than the court system.

    Still, nothing should ever be done by force. Instead, Shyfter should work with bloggers and approach us to get us to allow them to use our content.

    It is a matter of respect and being a good neighbor as much, if not more, than it is a legal or pageview one.

  • http://www.louisgray.com/live/ Louis Gray

    My point of view on this topic has been shared a bit already. It’s easier for me, as I’m not ad-centric in any way, but a bit more difficult for those who are. If there’s anything I can suggest to bloggers worried about declining page views or activity, it’s to find out where the conversation is moving and engage. Learn more about Shyftr. Learn more about FriendFeed. Learn more about Assetbar, Plaxo, LinkRiver, RSSMeme… you name it. Siloing yourself into your blog and waiting for visitors is deadly.

  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans

    Louis,

    The growing problem with the un-siloing of the blogosphere is it requires bloggers to check in with a growing number of sources, which takes time and effort on top of the time and effort bloggers put into writing and maintaining their blogs. Clearly, it’s only a matter of time before some kind of aggregator appears on the scene.

  • http://www.mappingtheweb.com Aidan Henry

    I’m more focused on comments than anything else. Encouraging thought-provoking discussions and providing new perspective are the main reasons I blog.

    Cheers,
    Aidan

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