Feed the Need: Surveying the Past, Present and Future of RSS

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Chris Redlitz, President of Feedster Inc.

1. What has the advent of RSS done for the Internet?

RSS feeds allow people to subscribe to a publisher or topic (search term) and the feed will update automatically when new, related information is available. This enables users to create their personalized view of content and sources of interest. It also provides a direct conduit between publisher and reader, enabling companies to utilize feeds instead of email for newsletters, product updates, etc.

2. What does your company do different with RSS?

Feedster indexes approaching 30M feeds. We create access to feeds, make them searchable and subscribeable; and a user can add them to the news reader (aggregator) of their choice.

3. How effective is advertising on RSS? What are some examples of ad successes and failures?

RSS advertising is still in its nascent stage, but it will be a very effective platform for brand and performance based advertisers when user adoption reaches a more ubiquitous level. As I mentioned before, it is a direct connection between publisher and reader, and it can’t be externally spammed. We are developing targeting solutions to more effectively address the nuances of feeds that are much different from targeted search queries. An example of an early success was a campaign for a Sun Microsystems webcast. The campaign was run through variety of channels, but they received a third of their sign ups through RSS feed campaigns.

4. What is missing with RSS currently and what will your company be doing to add value to this technology?

We are very aggressively working on solution to combat spam blogs which is a growing issue as RSS becomes more popular. In addition, we are developing new approaches to provide better relevancy for search results. Conventional search ranking is not effective for RSS feed search, and it is a challenge to provide the recent, relevant result since the content is dynamic, constantly changing.

5. What do you think the future has in store for this technology in terms of advertising?

It has many of the features that are appealing to a marketer 1) 100% opt in 2) free from external spam 3) subscription based 4) often contextually targeted 5) cost effective. As the volume of content available through feeds grows and subsequently there is an increase in user adoption, the inventory levels will begin to support the market as another effective advertising channel.

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