Google Turned Feedburner into ‘Free’burner Without My Knowledge

feedburner logo Until two days ago, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that Google had purchased Feedburner back on June 3, 2007 and in the process made two of its key services, FeedBurner Stats Pro and MyBrand, available to bloggers for free (see announcement).

[February 3, 2009 Update: Google has integrated Feedburner into its Adsense platform. See my new post ‘How to Migrate Feedburner Feeds to Google Adsense’.]

FeedBurner Stats Pro provides bloggers with detailed statistics about how often their RSS feeds are being used, which posts are being read/accessed the most, what feed readers are being used etc.

MyBrand allows the blogger to use a blog-branded RSS feed URL (in my case rather than a Feedburner-branded URL (eg: even as Feedburner continues to manage the feeds in the background. The obvious advantage of MyBrand, aside from the branding aspect, is that bloggers are no longer locked into Feedburner and can seamlessly transition their feeds to a competitive service without requiring their readers to update their feeds. (More details here)

In the early days, my video game law and imedia law blogs were hand-coded using Dreamweaver 8 and my RSS feeds were manually generated using Feed For All. Eek!  Back then, Feedburner provided me with all kinds of FeedBurner Stats Pro-like usage statistics for free.

Upon discovering the wonders of WordPress, I converted my blogs  and let WordPress handle the RSS feed generation process going forward (thank you WordPress Gods!). To make this work with Feedburner though, I set-up new WordPress-specific Feedburner accounts.  But at some point along the way, Feedburner began charging new account holders for some of the fancy statistics it used to give away for free. So the free stats were not available on my new accounts. Me being me, there was no way I was going to start paying for something that Feedburner used to give me for free. Alas, I gave up the detailed stats for the simplicity of RSS feed generation.

When The Daleisphere was born I decided to see if a competitive RSS feed management service would provide the kind of stats Feedburner used to provide for free. To my surprise, I discovered that Feedburner once again provides those stats for free.

But I hadn’t received any of those stats for my prior blogs until now. The catch? You have to activate’m to get’m.  Grrrrr!

When I made the switch from my old manual feeds to the new WordPress-generated feeds, clicking on the "Item Use" option in the Feedburner control panel, yielded a warning message saying I had to purchase the ‘Stats Pro’ service to thenceforth get what they used to give me for free.

feedburner stats pro now free messageUnbeknownst to me, since the Google purchase, when you click on that option, it gives you the option (see image) to update to Stat’s Pro for free.  Why Feedburner didn’t just start providing the stats, without having to specifically activate them (as used to be the case), I don’t understand.

What’s funny is that since Google’s purchase, I had clicked on the "Item Use" option (just to see if they returned for free) and the message above must have come up saying I could activate the stats for free, but I didn’t even notice it – I assumed it was the same old teaser screen telling me I could get the stats back if I paid up. Only, after reading the announcement a couple days ago did I go back to Feedburner to activate these services on my older blogs.

So, I’m a happy user of both the FeedBurner Stats Pro service (once again) and the MyBrand service (for the first time) with both my professional blogs and for my new The Daleisphere blog.

Activating  MyBrand was not as straight-forward as I had hoped – mostly because the instructions are unclear. Now that I fully understand it, the concept and results are very simple. Perhaps clear details of how to do it and what to expect will be the subject of a future post.

Bottom Line:  I’m sticking with Feedburner. Long live Google!