What kind of information can be obtained from RSS feeds?


Webtrends Analytics 9.x
Webtrends Analytics 8.x


What kind of information can be obtained from RSS feeds?


RSS tracking is very different from tracking a website due to the nature of RSS. RSS readers come in many flavors and on any number of devices, ranging from web applications to portable gaming systems to mobile phones. The RSS experience usually starts as a link on a website. A user clicks the link and subscribes to a feed by adding the link to their client RSS reader. The RSS reader then periodically requests an XML file provided by the target site without having to interact with the original website.

A tagging solution can capture the client-side click to the RSS icons on a web site. This can be used to approximate the number of subscriptions to the feed.

If the resources are available, the Webtrends Javascript code can be added to the feed on the RSS server, from which many data points which can be captured.

These include tracking RSS feed name and article name related to:

  • Feed requests – i.e. a request to the RSS server for content
  • Article clickthrough – i.e. people clicking on a link within the RSS feed to take them to the web site
  • Post/item views – i.e. number of times an embedded image in the XML is rendered
  • RSS Aggregator used – i.e. the browser agent used for the request.

What cannot be tracked:

  • Subscribing/viewing RSS within a web browser – RSS servers deliver information in XML format, which does not support the use of Javascript, and traffic therefore cannot be captured from the client side.
  • Subscribing/viewing RSS within an RSS aggregator – Examples of RSS aggregators are NewsGator, FeedReader, SharpReader, etc. Since these are client applications, and not web browsers, it is not possible to capture traffic.
  • Subscribing/viewing RSS within a portal based aggregator – Examples of portal based aggregators are MyYahoo and iGoogle – In this case, the RSS data is shown inside a web page owned by a different site which cannot be accessed to place tracking scripts.