Jeff Jarvis Lights Up Syndicate

    May 16, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The Syndicate Conference opened in New York, and Buzzmachine’s Jeff Jarvis provided the opening keynote address with his talk on advertising, syndication, and the challenges of the blogging medium today.

"Oh, Agent Starling, do you think you can dissect me with this blunt little tool?"
-- Hannibal Lecter opines on the issues facing advertisers looking for metrics in the world of syndication, Silence of the Lambs

How has syndication impacted your business? What do you need to see from advertising products before you will implement them in your syndicated content? Tell us more at SyndicationPro.

The Syndicate Conference touched off this morning at New York’s Roosevelt Hotel for two days of discussion on RSS feeds, blogs and podcasting as a medium for advertising. WebProNews publisher Rich Ord and managing editor Mike McDonald listened in on the proceedings.

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Conference chair Eric Norlin commented, “I’m not sure I know what syndication is anymore either. It started as blogs, but now there is a bunch of other stuff,” before introducing Jeff Jarvis for his opening remarks.

Jarvis wondered if RSS sends a tacit approval of syndication, to which Norlin noted that marketers might not know just what it is they want to measure with syndicated content from a metrics standpoint.

Money should find its way to syndication from advertisers, Jarvis thinks. He illustrated several points that those marketers should consider. For metrics, feeds can deliver information from cookies about the system reading the feed, list how often feeds are viewed, and tell how many users have opted in to receive those feeds.

Feeds can carry advertising, as companies like conference sponsor Yahoo have demonstrated. Feed publishers can enable a layer of sophistication with their advertising and tracking methods by wrapping feeds with the technology needed for that.

Jarvis also reiterated an opinion he’d made in AdAge recently, that there needed to be an open ad marketplace so advertisers who want to spend money on blogs could give it to blogs who really would like to have that money.

“Advertisers love us,” he said of blogs.

Part of what advertisers may not like is the unavoidable possibility of not being able to measure all of the syndication taking place.

“Isn’t there an element of blogs/syndication that is inherently immeasurable?” Jarvis asked. “If you have an idea and then I link to it/add to it and then subsequent bloggers link and further progress the idea…how do you measure that?”

Jarvis also noted the media versus syndication conflict taking place, as the longtime controllers of distribution, the media, tries to come to grips with the aggregation prowess of the blogosphere.

He cited the example of a CNN story featuring The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, and how the story moved from being seen by a few thousand people to being posted as a torrent file seen by millions.

Tagging has been an even hotter lightning rod when it comes to feeds. Jarvis observed how a true tagging standard does not exist. Tags created by authors aren’t as indicative as tags generated by end users; also some people use Technorati tags, others use

Judging by Jarvis’ comments, perhaps the next great achievement for syndication will be the establishment of a uniform tagging system. Technorati tagging came under fire from a few attendees of the keynote, with one person in particular who was online and having problems with Technorati.

That was when “Dave of Technorati support” introduced himself to the person and proceeded to help him. “Dave” was David Sifry, founder of

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.