More fuel for RSS and marketing debate

More articles and comments continue to appear about RSS and whether or when it could replace email as a primary marketing communication channel. I’ve also posted about this subject recently as I believe it’s a topic that is of distinct interest to all communicators, not only those concerned with email and marketing.

Robin Good published a detailed post this week on RSS and marketing that discusses three distinct questions:

  1. What are the best marketing and business uses for RSS?
  2. What are the greatest benefits of using RSS as a content delivery vehicle?
  3. What’s the number one problem RSS publishers are facing?

Everyone who’s interested in this topic should read what may be a seminal piece about how to use RSS as an effective communication tool in the business environment.

One keynote message:

RSS is really a godsend in that it provides a content distribution and delivery mechanism that is completely controlled by the end user. This is an important aspect of the media revolution we are witnessing today.

Across all new media fronts, consumers[*] are taking control. In news and content media, consumers are becoming producers of content and RSS greatly facilitates this process. It makes it easy to distribute content to online audiences in a competitive way to traditional newsletters.

[* I’d change ‘consumers’ to ‘all audiences’ so as to be clear that control is passing to all users of information, including those within organizations. May seem picky, but consumers in this context will mean ‘all audiences.’] 

Some bottom lines:

  • Implementation costs are next to zero.
  • [RSS] significantly extends reach and visibility online.
  • It favors re-use, syndication and the new media politics of remixing and newsmastering.
  • It leaves end users free to decide what information they want to receive, in control of when to read, or stop receiving what they have selected.
  • It allows others to repurpose and rebroadcast your content, message or news while doing this in a sustainable way.

Robin Good | RSS Wave: Good Ideas For Business And Marketing Applications

But there’s more in an equally interesting article published in July by Media Daily News that looks at how RSS poses a big threat to email marketers.

Beginning with a quick overview of what RSS is, the article makes some interesting and bold statements –

RSS poses the biggest threat to e-mail marketers. […] RSS feeds eliminate the need for [email] blacklists and spam filters because users have total control over which messages they receive. Once you get into the RSS world, you don’t have direct control over marketing to your customer – the thing marketers are most afraid of.

The marketing implications of RSS will move beyond e-mail marketing, once the technology reaches critical mass. The first step for marketers […] will be to make sure their ads show up when RSS readers download their publishing partners’ content feeds.

Aha! That’s what’s coming – RSS feeds with ads. I’ve noticed that some of the feeds I subscribe to from some media (no names at the moment) include content where the headline begins: AD.

But no one should be surprised – I think that’s an inevitable development of RSS as a marketing tool.

The Media Daily News article also comments –

Several challenges loom for the RSS industry, including resolving how people will pay for RSS feeds. There are also questions about bandwidth. RSS readers continuously troll sites for updated information, and for smaller publishers that don’t have several servers, this can cause information to slow down or crash.

The bandwidth issue has been a discussion topic on some blogs in the past week or so (most notably by Nick Bradbury and Robert Scoble). I’ll leave comment on this issue to those experts.

What’s clear to me about RSS is that it does present communicators with a very useful technology tool with which to develop new or more effective communication with their audiences that complement all the relationship-building activities they do. That’s it.

Media Daily News | RSS Gains Traction as More Publishers Offer Feeds

(Written with BlogJet 1.1.0 build 20 but edited in TypePad for extended posting and manually published live.)