1. Growing page views through ineptitude

    Posted November 10, 2010 in media  |  No Comments so far

    If you’re an online publisher that’s missing out on page views because people are consuming content with RSS readers, here’s a strategy that might help: break things.

    By breaking your RSS feed and screwing up its formatting, people like me will be forced to click on your links and leave our reader applications, giving you the ad revenue you crave. But you need to obey the following rules:

    • Only break things at the formatting & layout kind of level, nothing more fundamental. The feed still needs to actually work
    • Make sure all the content can be seen in the feed, even though the formatting is broken. This will give us the incentive we need to click on the link. (and no, the first paragraph alone won’t be enough to achieve this. The whole article should be visible, but broken)
    • Let some HTML code or something leak into the feed output so that we know it’s really broken and you’re not just making it deliberately hard to read.

    I’m writing this post because Fast Company seems to have followed these points and succeeded, at least where I’m concerned. Their RSS feed has broken and it’s led to me actually visiting their site (and generating ad revenue) for a change.

    Fast Company's broken RSS feed

    It works because the reading experience is so poor that you’d never go through the entire article, but your eye can flick up and down the block of broken text, getting a good sense of the content. Interest is pigued but satisfaction is withheld. Is this just ineptitude on Fast Company’s part, or is there a kind of evil genius at work over there?