Gawker Media recently announced their decision to truncate RSS feeds from their popular blog, Lifehacker. Their reasoning puts the effectiveness of RSS marketing in doubt.
The decision to truncate Lifehacker’s news feed has not gone down well with its former editorial head, Lockhart Steele, who has always been a very active defendant of full RSS feeds. He questioned the owner of Gawker Media, Nick Denton about the logic behind this decision.
Nick Denton responded by saying, “this was a commercial decision”. He further added, “Gawker Media is an ad supported company. RSS ads have never realized their potential. At the same time we sell plenty of ads on our website so, yes, it is in our interest for people to click through if enticed by an excerpt.”
Denton’s statement regarding the lack of profits coming out of RSS ads is particularly interesting. The effectiveness of RSS news feeds as an advertising medium becomes seriously questionable when a popular blog publisher openly denounces them.
Felix Salmon from Reuters seems to have a different opinion, though. He points out, on his blog, that while it might be true that click throughs from the RSS feed to the website generate more revenue, there is no evidence that truncating all RSS feeds would result in higher traffic. In fact, things could work in just the reverse manner and changing from full to truncated RSS feeds may result in a loss in traffic and hence lead to lower revenues.