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If RSS Is Niche Media, Why Use It?

Self-selecting users can make RSS a powerful medium.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS), which lets consumers subscribe to automatically updated content, is not exactly the most popular digital marketing tactic in use today.

In June 2008, the Direct Marketing Association surveyed businesses in the US about what types of social media marketing they used. Only 17.9% of responding small businesses and 11.4% of large businesses said they used RSS. The sample size was small, but the study is still useful as an indication of the method’s popularity.

Still, many companies are interested in adding RSS to their integrated marketing efforts. More than one-quarter of online retailers in the US surveyed in August 2008 by Vovici for Internet Retailer said RSS was a priority for them this year.

On the consumer side, Bill Flitter, co-founder and CEO of RSS media distributor Pheedo, told eMarketer that RSS subscribers were a great target audience.

“It’s not a buy like an ad network would be,” Mr. Flitter said. “With RSS subscribers, you know their interests and how often they consume your content.”

Mr. Flitter said Pheedo’s click-through rate averaged between 0.4% and 0.6%, but those clickers tended to be highly interested. “The funnel might be smaller with RSS, but the impact is larger, because we reach the end-user in a noncrowded environment.”

He listed 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 pass-along rates, time spent and overall engagement with content and information. [eMarketer]

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