Boy those Feedburner stats move! A few weeks back I was on the Podcast Brothers and the topic of Feedburner stats came up. We discussed the fact that I had seen an overnight reduction of 80% in the “supposed” subscriber count on my blog. Apparently a few listeners were curious, so here is the screenshot of the “Feed Stats” for MWGblog. As I posted back in October, Feedburner was reporting a subscriber count north of 5000 for this humble little blog.
That number continued to increase to 6200 and then in early January, bam… overnight it went to 1100. Now frankly, I never trusted the 6000+ number. It looked great, but something in my gut just said that was way too high. Conversely, I now wonder if I should trust the new number. It has continued to increase to just over 2200 as I write this. This brings up a few interesting points. First I’d be ecstatic if the number was 20, but I would like to have a number that was at least in the realm of “accurate”. (Lets say at least in the ballpark.) I realize that feed subscriber count is not a science, but when you see swings this dramatic it does nothing but undermine all credibility. When I do see those Feedburner buttons on other sites with subscriber counts I now tend to think “yeah, right…”
That is the problem – loss of credibility. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on Feedburner, heck it is free. Since using their service, other than the stats hiccup mentioned here, it has been fantastic. Also I did email them, and while no specific cause was given they did point to this post abut Rojo. But still, 80%?
The reason this is important to me is that we are starting to pay attention to statistics for podcasts at GigaVox. In that context, my experience offers some lessons I’d like to apply moving forward. Accurate stats are a requirement. Podcasters and advertisers need them: clear, accurate and reliable stats. I have never been a fan of the CPM approach, but “I don’t know” will never cut it as an answer about your audience size. Also, podcasters will need to be careful. Could you imagine relying on a third party stats provider for a CPM based ad campaign and you get back a graph like the one above? Hope you didn’t already cash the check, someone will want some money back. (I also would not expect any return business.) Everyone ends up loosing in that scenario. So no answers here today, but I must confess, in a round about way I am glad this happened. It has given me some good food for thought moving forward on stats for podcasting.