Feed Processing Services in the Blogosphere
Feed processing services are and will be inseparable part of the blogosphere – Feeds and web sites serve as interaction point between the publisher's audience and the published content. This interaction point has always been subject for enhancements for providing better service for the publisher and the audience. Enhancements such as statistics, change of address management, third party advertising integration, support for different formats required by different segments of the audience who access the content by different tools (Different news readers or different browsers in the case of web sites).
Web sites infrastructure have been built in a distributed manner where every web site owner had to build its own infrastructure according to needs and capabilities. This distributed manner was enforced due to security reasons (Web sites interact with internal intranet resources) and due to the basic decentralized manner web sites operated and still do over the net.
Feeds are a different story and centralizing their management makes a lot of sense. Both since it is "publicly" available so there are no security concerns and also since it is in a machine-readable format. A format that serves as a basis for meaningful processing unlike web pages.
Advertising – Feed processing services such as Feedburner can provide RSS Ads better then ad aggregators such as Google thanks to the fact that they control the serving point and Google does not. It holds true while Google still does not provide feed processing services for themselves and maybe they won't since it is much more then just Ads integration. Their recent acquisition and the new pricing for Urchin reveals their understanding of the importance of controlling the content serving point; At least for web sites.
I think that as a publisher the decision here is not whether to conduct your feed processing for yourself or to outsource it but more of a question to which vendor to outsource it.
Robustness and availability – Outsourced feed processing services are expected to provide a higher level of robustness and availability for your feed then what you would on your own blogging platform or website. This is their core business and emerging market leaders will be obliged to do that in order to compete. So whenever our site suffers from a problem (Maybe hurdles a startup encounters and not a large corporate) I know that our feed is available for readers.
Future Business Models – Handing your feed to someone else is an important decision since you are basically handling your content entry point to someone else. All your relationship with your audience will go through the selected provider and that is crucial.
I do think that the specific business model of feed processing services in general are unclear right now as many other emerging infrastructure companies although there seem to be several alternative models. In order to give new hesitant customers the confidence of not losing control and not being held captive in the feed processing service, I think that these services will have to come out with a simple mechanism for changing a feed processing service with a redirection of feeds to new addresses. This will clear concerns that rise in this emerging period. At least for me.
These are the opinions of a satisfied FeedBurner user.