RSS: Niche Media as Powerful Marketing Target Audience

By November 14, 2008

RSS subscribers make a great target audience. Really Simple Syndication enables Web users to have automatically updating access to customized Web content. These RSS feeds are read in aggregator software, such as FeedReader, Google Reader or Bloglines. It is a less popular, but highly efficient method to access frequently updated content on news sites and blogs. Bill Flitter, co-founder and CEO of RSS media distributor Pheedo, explained the unique monetizability of RSS: "It's not a buy like an ad network would be," Mr. Flitter said in eMarketer today. "With RSS subscribers, you know their interests and how often they consume your content." Pheedo's click-through rate averages between 0.4 and 0.6 percent, but those clickers are highly interested. It is a smaller funnel, but higher impact, because the end-user is in a non-crowded environment.

Flitter proposed three requirements for RSS advertisers: "Create compelling content, break it up into smaller, digestible chunks and focus on metrics besides click-throughs." Those metrics include rates that articles are passed along, time spent on individual articles and overall reader engagement with content and information.

In a June 2008 Direct Marketing Association survey of how US marketers use media in integrated campaigns, social media marketing tactics focused on RSS feeds about 17.9 percent of the time for small businesses (less than one hundred employees) and 11.4 percent for large businesses. While this number is much smaller than the percentage for blogs (32.1 or 24.6 by small or large businesses respectively), or for social networking sites (28.4 or 23.2 percent), it still indicates the method's popularity.

Among US online retailers, over 25 percent placed priority on the emerging technology of RSS. According to Internet Retailer in September, this ranks RSS higher than digital downloads or streaming media and mobile commerce/marketing (17.5 percent). This shows retailer recognition of the import placed on a disproportionately small section of consumers.

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