I’ve written about the issue of blog stats in the past. This is an area that both as a blogger and an investor I’m particularly interested in because of my historical involvement (and success) with several analytics companies (I use the phrases analytics, stats, and metrics interchangeably). Fred Wilson and Pamela Parker have also posted recently on the issues of stats and Matt Blumberg, Fred, and I have had several discussions about this in the past few weeks as we try to figure out what our reader adoption looks like.
Feedburner has come up with a new concept called circulation as their core measurement. Their definition of circulation is “an approximate measure of the number of individuals for whom your feed has been requested in the last 24 hours. Circulation is inferred from an analysis of the many different feed readers and aggregators that retrieve this feed daily. Circulation is not computed for browsers and bots that access your feed.”
So – rather than struggle with hit counts and trying to correlate to a measurement that doesn’t mean anything, the Feedburner guys have done something that is fundamentally simple and smart. Whether they realized it or not, they’ve used a concept Jerry Colonna coined in the mid 1990′s called “the analog analog”. Whenever Jerry and I talked about a potential investment, one of the first things that he’d ask is “what is the real world, non-digital analogy” (later shortened to “what is the analog analog”). A decade later I still use the concept regularly (ok – I stopped for a few months – er – a year or two – around the turn of the century).
Feedburner’s analog analog is – circulation stats in the publishing industry. In Dick Costolo’s post about Feedburner’s New Detailed Statistics Page he states the analog analog clearly as follows.
“The key is to think of circulation in much the way, well, commercial publishers think of it. It represents the best current approximation of how many people you reached today, via the various agents reporting back to us through feed accesses. This number is particularly interesting as a trend over time.”
Nice job Dick and the Feedburner crew – my stats are more useful today then they were yesterday.