While at Gnomedex I had a good conversation with one of the folks at FeedBurner, and he informed me that they were now able to measure actual downloads. I thought this was pretty cool. They are using a pretty common re-direct technique.
Re-Directs are not a bad thing so long as you have a very robust network. FeedBurner has a very robust network with redundancy across a a couple of data centers. I have been very conservative in using re-directs as everything has to be perfect all the time. My reasoning for this is as follows.
Lets say you have your RSS feed pointed at FeedBurner instead of using your own, and you are using their new download tracker. Let’s say at the same time you are also tracking your shows downloads through Podtrac’s re-direct service for advertising tracking purposes, next lets add the hosting companies into the mix. We know Libsyn and others are using a re-direct to send your file request to the correct server in their server farm.
This could equate to a minimum of 2-4 re-redirects happening on a request for a file. Lot’s of people and multiple services are now collecting data and forwarding on the actual file download request which is a recipe for disaster. The Internet Spec allows for a maximum of 5 re-directs, plus everything has to be absolutely perfect on all of those services all the time, if any one of them have a network slowdown or bottle neck your file may not get delivered.
So in my opinion you are now 50% to 75% more at risk in actual media delivery. Since July 13th, FeedBurner has indicated that they are seeing 404 errors on some file deliveries (aka your file is not getting delivered and everything is not perfect) it appears that Juice, and maybe one other podcast download software tool are unable to access the media.
My opinion on FeedBurner, and their services was starting to soften somewhat, that may come as a surprise to some. I know they are working hard over their but if I would had been on FeedBurner since the 13t,h at least 25% of my podcasting audience would not be getting new show downloads.
I think I am going to have to get back on my soapbox. “Trust no one with Your RSS Feed” at least if there is a failure someplace you can blame yourself or the audio hosting company.
Their are plenty of ways to get podcast download metrics. I have been getting reportable, verifiable metrics on podcast download for over a year. We have not had to use a third party to measure those downloads, and advertisers have had no problems digesting those numbers as well.
According to Jessie Chavez a FeedBurner employee “Some podcast publishers have temporarily disabled their download tracking service while to issue is resolved in order to make sure to avoid these issues. This is only a temporary measure as we’re hoping to have the fix ASAP.”
The question I have whats the value of your RSS feed if your audience cannot get your embedded data from it?