The big irony of RSS is that while many people view RSS content daily, a significant percentage don’t realize that they’re using RSS technology to manage their information gathering. A study released in 2005 by search engine portal Yahoo! and research firm Ipsos Insight reported that although 27 percent of respondents used personalized Web pages (such as My Yahoo!, My MSN, etc.), only 4 percent realized that RSS feeds drove the content on these pages.
In case you’re part of the populace who isn’t quite sure what RSS is, the acronym stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a technology that allows a company to share information from its Web site with subscribers through a reader that “feeds” the content. Readers can be downloadable software that sits on your desktop or that integrates feeds into your Outlook inbox like an e-mail message; others are Web-based readers as well as personal Web pages through portals. The reader pulls new content from senders’ Web sites as it’s updated.
The reason why RSS is becoming a hot topic for marketers is two-fold: 1) RSS use is growing, and 2) it offers 100 percent deliverability.
A 2005 Jupiter Research report on RSS found that 39 percent of online consumers said they had customized Web sites to receive information specific to them in 2004; comparatively, 31 percent of online consumers opted into e-mail promotions in 2004 after
seeing advertisements. In addition, 7 percent of respondents had downloaded podcasts, which are audio and video files that typically get distributed via RSS feeds.
But the most compelling motivation for checking out RSS is competition: Jupiter’s survey found that 5 percent of marketers already were publishing marketing content as RSS feeds, with another 19 percent planning to implement a marketing feed by April 2006.
How to RSS
According to Jeanne Jennings, a Washington, D.C.-based online marketing consultant and publisher of e-mail marketing e-letter The Jennings Report, explains that marketers can either place ads in existing publishers' feeds or create their own. From a brand perspective, the latter option provides you with more visibility and control over the integration of your ad message with the content, but requires you to commit to developing a communication strategy that will appeal to prospective subscribers.