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

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Bill Flitter, VP of Marketing at Pheedo

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

Technologically, RSS has given the internet the most efficient content delivery method to date, allowing for the free-flow of information from publisher to consumer. Not only does RSS allow consumers to read the content of hundreds of websites in a fraction of the time, but it is the enabling technology for podcasts and is being used to deliver video as well.

RSS also provides a much-needed supplement to email. SPAM, phishing and federal laws have made customer communications and marketing via email very difficult for companies, even when the customer has opted-in to the content. RSS is, in many ways, a clean channel and it gives the consumer complete control over the content they receive.

In addition, RSS has changed the relationship between content producer and customer. Because RSS is a 100% opt-in medium, companies are able to develop more intimate relationships with customers, and RSS has proven to be a great customer retention tool for businesses.

2. What does your company do different with RSS?

Pheedo helps customers generate revenue from the niche markets that RSS serves. Whether publisher or advertiser, Pheedo’s expertise is in helping customers capitalize on the marketing potential of RSS.

Pheedo helps to unravel the mystery behind RSS. It provides publishers with insight into how their RSS content is performing, delivers a better picture of the ROI of feed content, and ultimately aids in the growth of the feeds. Pheedo’s breadth of publisher categories helps advertisers specifically target the audience that will generate the highest rate of quality clicks and achieve the highest ROI on their ad spend.

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

RSS advertising has shown great success and effectiveness so far, and RSS ad revenue continues to grow rapidly. Pheedo publishes a quarterly RSS usage report called the Pheed Read, and the Q4 2005 report showed that certain ad creative executions in RSS garner a click through rate seven times higher than that of traditional online ads (7.99% CTR vs. 1.17% CTR). Additionally, many of Pheedo’s customers, including Pricerunner, an online comparison-shopping site, are reporting that RSS ads have performed comparably or better than their paid-search efforts for a fraction of the cost.

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

RSS is currently limited in its ability for one-to-one communications. Individualized RSS feeds that will allow companies and publishers to communicate directly with customers (i.e. deliver monthly bills, send targeted advertising, etc…) are not yet widely available, but have been a hot topic in the RSS industry. This also brings up issues of RSS security, which is still in its developing stages. Many of these issues are currently being addressed by the RSS community.

Another challenge is adoption the of RSS, and making the subscription process easier so that people other than tech-savvy users can subscribe to RSS feeds. The process needs to become easier and more intuitive for RSS to really hit the mainstream.

From a marketing perspective, Pheedo is actively improving RSS capabilities. Pheedo is working to allow publishers, regardless of their feed host and URL, to insert Pheedo ads into their feed and monetize their content. In addition, many companies want to reap search engine optimization benefits from their RSS feeds, something that is difficult to do now, and Pheedo is working to improve this as well.

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

At Pheedo, we have a few predictions for what the future holds for RSS:

– RSS has room to grow, and we are constantly seeing new innovations as the reach and adoption of RSS increases. Individual RSS feeds are not far away, and will allow marketers to behaviorally target customers with ads, promotions, new products, etc.

– We will also see a richer consumer experience with RSS that will allow for e-commerce transactions to occur from the individual feed item level.

– Advertisers will rely on RSS as a key publishing vehicle to keep their creative updated on the fly on ad networks such as Google and Yahoo.

– As we see more online video and video ads, RSS will become the efficient delivery method for video publishers to use for the distribution of their content.

– More users will adopt RSS, and the value of site visitors will drop while the value of an opt-in RSS subscriber rises. Bookmarks will be a thing of the past, and they will “come alive” as RSS feeds that update automatically with fresh, new content.

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