Will Work for Feed

At least once a week I am asked by clients and prospects, "What's up with RSS feeds?" It seems like most have seen headlines and know it's new Web jargon, but don't know what the heck it is.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a kind of XML format. It contains a list of items that are individually identified with a link. RSS feeds were originally invented by Netscape when it was trying to get into the portal business. Netscape came out with RSS .91 and then dropped it when the company decided to get out of the portal business. A company named UserLand Software picked it up and began developing it. The rest is history (in the making).

If you are reading this, you are probably like me: You get barraged with e-mails and SMS text messages and you have a whole host of newsletters and such piling up in your inbox. We've all opted in to stay ahead of the curve but man, there is a heck of a lot to read.

According to a Pew Research survey released in January, more than 5 percent of U.S. Internet users already use RSS. You may have heard of Feedster. It is an RSS search engine that carries over 8 million feeds. RSS adoption is on the rise. In fact, some say RSS is mainstream. I think that is a lofty statement, but will soon be true.



Microsoft just announced that it will include support for RSS in its new operating system. It will offer uses a one-click option to subscribe to feeds. Microsoft also announced that by year-end, it will offer a browser with feed reading baked in. Underdog browser Firefox, which now accounts for 10 percent of browser traffic, already has this capability. The offers users 150 different feeds. The New York Times offers more than 30 feeds. Penetration is sure to increase as the number of blogs increase as well. There are already 10 million blogs out there today!

Although growing, it certainly is a fragmented space. According to Feedster:

Top 10 RSS Readers of FeedBurner-Served Feeds

My Yahoo! -- 59.02%
Bloglines - 10.42%
Firefox Live Bookmarks -- 4.20%
NetNewsWire -- 3.74%
iTunes -- 3.37%
iPodder -- 2.38%
NewsGator Online -- 1.82%
Pluck -- 1.59%
FeedDemon -- 1.56%
Reader not identified -- 1.02%

Top 10 RSS Readers (excluding 10 most popular feeds)

Bloglines -- 19.49%
NetNewsWire - 10.07%
iTunes - 9.53%
Firefox Live Bookmarks -- 7.25%
iPodder - 7.17%
My Yahoo! -- 6.68%
FeedDemon - 4.23%
NewsGator Online -- 3.83%
Reader not identified -- 3.07%
Pluck - 2.07%

The International Federation of the Periodical Press group just revealed the results of their consumer media study, which show that 30 percent of all consumer media sites are already providing their content via RSS.

Advertisers are beginning to jump on the RSS bandwagon. According to AdWeek, MSNBC will advertise The Situation With Tucker Carlson as part of a larger campaign on that includes banner ads, online video, and behaviorally targeted spots. The text ads began appearing July 15. Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest placed the campaign. The last month began running graphical ads in its technology and business feeds for a Sun Microsystems Webcast. Other news sites, such as InfoWorld, have also begun putting ads in their feeds. Google, Yahoo!, Kanoodle, and RSS ad networks like Pheedo have begun inserting text ads in syndication feeds.

So do you think RSS feeds are mainstream? Have you advertised in them? If not, would you consider it? Where do you think the future of RSS is headed?

According to this author, RSS is a lot more than "simple." I see potential for advertising, increased page views for news sites an online magazines, opportunities for online music catalogs to show off new releases or top 10 hits... no doubt we will become even more of a sound-byte culture. Post your thoughts on the SPINboard.

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