The costs of indirection

A friend of mine recently asked me if I’d like to add a badge to my blog, linked to a promotion/monetization system. I thought my email reply was worth sharing here. I’ve anonymized things a bit….

I’m a great example of why badge-based blog monetization is a tough sell. I currently follow 208 different blogs (really – I just checked my OPML file) but I do so almost entirely through Google Reader, or one of the iPhone/iPad apps that transcode my Reader feed into a more suitable format. I only click through to the actual blog website in a few cases a day – where I want to see any comments, or when I need access to the original HTML for some purpose. (And the latter tends to be dictated by the blogging software being used by the author.)
So even though I have a number of favorite blogs, I’m never going to see a badge. [And of course I’m never going to see – or click through – on any advertising, which is a problem for the blogger.] Furthermore, I know that my blog is in the same boat: from blog-related email it’s clear that I have many more readers than those who show up on my site. (Perhaps if I started using Feedburner I could find out exactly how many….)
The only entity that knows what I read, and how much time I spend on each posting, and if and when I click through, is Google. And they’re happy to tell me – see the “Trends” section on the Reader home page. But nobody else gets a look-in.