The ability to see the number of subscribers to a feed in Google's feed reader has sparked quite a lot of interest and posts. Bloglines has had this feature for as long as I've been a user, and when the beta of their new interface was launched, it was something that I immediately noticed was missing. However, that has been rectified, and the beta now includes feed stats. Bizarrely, the stats in the beta are different to those in the regular interface. For example, I currently see 1, 688 subscribers to Jeff Jarvis' BuzzMachine in the beta, but in the regular site I see 1, 662.
Feed reader stats are incredible important - which is no doubt why Google finally acquired FeedBurner. However, they are obviously mercurial things: FeedBurner itself has many problems in reporting accurate numbers, as does Bloglines. In addition, knowledge about their distribution and relationship to the total reach of a blog is anecdotal at best. Scoble claims that 5% of readers of a blog do so via a feed reader. The numbers for this blog are quite different - I get far more readership via feed readers than I do via traditional web traffic. Note that Scoble's statement is actually very vaguely worded:
Basically it looks like only 5% of the average blog is read in an RSS reader so multiply these numbers by 20 and you’ll probably get close to real traffic levels.
He could be talking about anything.
What is certain is that Google is sitting on an amazing pot of data, viz:
- Feed statistics from FeedBurner,
- Traffic stats from all the Blogger blogs,
- Reader stats from the RSS reader.