Recent discussions on changes in RSS subscriber reporting at FeedBurner as a result of Google's starting to report Google Reader and Google Personalized Homepage subscribers have prompted Rick Klau at FeedBurner to post an analysis of how people are reading feeds and interacting with them.
The FeedBurner analysis is based on 604,533 feeds managed by FeedBurner on behalf of 347,000 bloggers, podcasters and commercial publishers. FeedBurner notes that the service sees more than 3,000 feed reading clients on a regular basis. There is adequate data in a sample of this size to gauge the impact of the various aggregators whose subscriber data FeedBurner publishes.
Because FeedBurner provides stats on item views and clicks, the service can provide a sense of audience engagement level based on the client used. Are users of one client reading the posts more than users with a different client? Are these users clicking back to the original site in smaller or greater numbers? Rick Klau of FeedBurner addresses these issues in an extended post filled with documentation. He notes that:
Looking at engagement across the top web-based aggregators, several top readers are driving the lion's share of clicks and views back to our publishers' content.In clicks, Yahoo! (54%) leads the pack. This is not surprising since users of Yahoo! are presented just headlines with links to the content. My Yahoo!, Google Reader/Personalized Homepage, Bloglines and Netvibes - account for 95% of all web aggregator clicks to FeedBurner publisher's content.
For views the FeedBurner sample shows that Google Reader, Bloglines, NewsGator and Netvibes - account for 98% of all item views. It should be noted that how an aggregator chooses to display a feed in the reader can influence the number of views recorded.
There are several conclusions can be drawn from this data. First, the Google Reader has rapidly grabbed a significant share of the market. The intricacy of the data shows that there are number of variables that must be taken into consideration in reporting feed consumption. Finally, this post just looks at users consuming feeds in Web-based aggregators. Feeds are so flexible that these readers just cover a small portion of the consumption methods available. Today readers consume content in a number of different places -- directly from the content provider's site, through a feed-reading client, within a widget, via resyndicated headlines on another site, or on a social-networking site.