Sunday
Nov152009

Get RSS click data into Google Analytics via Feedburner

This is great news for anyone who uses RSS for their blogs, podcasts, news, press releases etc; Google has just announced that Feedburner data can now be integrated with Google Analytics.

Don’t get too excited though.

Google have only been able to develop a system that basically auto-tags the RSS feed links when someone subscribes through a Feedburner hosted RSS feed (such as this blog). Folks who subscribe directly to your RSS won’t be tracked. Additionally Google aren’t integrating data on feed subscriptions, you’ll still need to access that data via Feedburner.

This has taken a  r e a l l y   l  o  n  g   time to rollout, after all Google bought Feedburner for $100m back in June 2007! (via Techcrunch)

To make best use of this I would recommend making sure that all of your RSS feeds are passed through Feedburner, make sure your blog software can handle that before sending content to the browser. For this site I use Squarespace which allows all RSS feeds to be over-ridden with specific RSS domains. I’ve also used the Feedburner MyBrand service which ensures that the insightr.com domain is used for RSS hosting:

How to get Feedburner click data into Google Analytics

Step 1: Login to your Feedburner Account

You’ll need to go to the “Analyze” tab and then click on the Services button and make sure the “track clicks as a traffic source in Google Analytics” is selected.

Step 2: Modify the campaign parameters

Click on the “customize” button, this will launch an overlay window that will allow you to customise the Google Analytics campaign parameters that Feedburner uses to auto-tag your links. Google offers four dynamic variables to help extend the depth of data being collected, which can be positioned and managed as appropriate for your business, they are:

  • $(feedUrl) - this captures the URI of your feed
  • $(feedName) - this captures the full name of your feed as set in the Feedburner settings
  • $(distributionChannel) - this captures the channel in which your feed was clicked in (for example if you use the Feedburner email services this will show up in this variable as ‘email’)
  • $(distributionEndpoint) - this will capture the tool or service from which the click came from (for example google reader, friendfeed)

Step 3: Find the data in Google Analytics

Based on how you customised the feed you will be able to find the data within your campaign reports, so in the example below there is an example of what the source / medium data will look like. In this example a secondary dimension of ad content has been used to capture where the click came from.

 

What’s next?

I’m hoping the next evolution for this will:

  • be modified to capture RSS feed subscriptions directly in Google Analytics (or if Google are being nicely open source to allow api data to be sent to YWA, Omniture, Coremetrics etc.).  This is real problem for analysts at the moment who are limited to trying to track RSS feed subscriptions via clicks, a highly ineffective measure when RSS subscriptions are built directly into the latest browsers - clicks are never going to be an accurate measure of this.
  • allow tracking of campaign parameters for other analytics tools in Feedburner (eg populating a cid= variable for Omniture). This is a bit more open source than I suspect Google will offer, but would help Google “not be evil” :)
  • longer term I’m hoping Google will integrate Google Analytics and DFA with auto campaign tagging (this is a royal pain for anyone who uses DFA with Google Analytics because of the old school trafficking approach used by DFA). Who knows maybe if Google open up further this will allow third party data imports into GA (such as data from email service providers). This would then compete directly with Omniture Genesis. At which stage Omniture / Adobe will need to crank out some serious product innovation to keep customers paying for commodity driven analytics services.

REQ464JMYR6Y

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