Monday, July 18, 2005

Washington Post to Monetize RSS?

For awhile, people have been wondering whether there's a way
to make money off of RSS feeds. today announced that it will introduce advertising
in its RSS (Real Simple syndication) feeds, making it the first major
news site to offer ad units in its syndication streams.

Jeremy Pepper is spot on with his comment:
This is great that the first large media site is going to push ads via RSS. And, this is terrible, because the first large media site is going to push ads via RSS.

Well - I suppose that's the first shoe dropping - now let's see if RSS becomes as ad-riddled a channel as e-mail or if it can stay relatively useful as companies begin to cash in.

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  • Just a few comments to be more specific about my thoughts...

    In the immediate sense, I think it's great that the Washington Post is embracing RSS. I'm not worried about organizations like the Post, which has a proven history of making good choices when it comes to the use of the Internet.

    I'm worried about those who want to get in on the RSS trend but don't really "get it." I fear that instead of putting small advertising tags into otherwise useful feed items, some will allow advertisers to post their own entire feed items, which will take up room in our RSS readers the same way advertisements do now in our email boxes.

    An example of how organizations tend to stretch the limits of the opt-in - I give my company email address to a variety of trade publications. While I can opt-out of allowing them to sell my email address to outside sources, I cannot opt-out of receiving emails they send on BEHALF of advertisers, at least not without opting out of the publications' primary "subscriber update" emails.

    (The Post, I believe, avoids this practice and instead puts small ads within the emails they send.)

    In return for the value these publications provide me in giving me copies of their magazines and in some cases, access to their online content, I must be willing to make this concession, and I do.

    With RSS, right now, I don't have to make this concession. I can get the value without having to sift through ad pitches.

    Again, I won't mind an ad link at the bottom of an otherwise useful feed item (much as the Post and others currently do within their update emails).

    I just don't want items on the feeds that consist entirely of advertising.

    In the end, I think that because RSS is by definition an opt-in channel, the same organizations that stretch the opt-in rules now will feel free to put whatever they want on their feeds.

    When that happens, RSS will lose its edge as a "less noisy" channel.

    By Blogger I, at 9:45 AM  

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  • “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
    - Herman Melville

    RSS is the way of the Future...
    rss news

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 PM  

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