Sun. Sep 25th, 2022

Microsoft’s announced support for RSS in Longhorn holds several interesting points for the advertising world. If you’re completely new to RSS, click here to read through our intuitive primer on RSS. Regardless, a brief refresher is probably in order for the rest of us.

Real Simple Syndication (RSS) is a technology that allows website visitors to subscribe to that website’s content. When the Internet was much, much smaller, we mainly found our way around by navigating or browsing to specific sites. With the Internet’s explosion in size we’re learning to utilize search engines more and more (and as search engines have improved enough to actually find what we’re searching for) to sift through the information available.

The next wave of user interaction will be via subscription. We can now identify content on the Internet that is relevant or interesting and subscribe to that content. Using an aggregating software application, we can have the content we want delivered to us instead of having to hunt and search across the web to find it.

So what of Microsoft’s announcement? Well, two key points of which you should be aware:

  1. If Microsoft is throwing RSS support into their operating system, you can plan on seeing more of this technology.
  2. Microsoft is proposing an extension of this technology that would expand its functionality beyond subscriptions to newsy-type information to integrating subscriptions of things like photos, lists, music, videos, and more.

OK, so a few words on point number one. Microsoft’s adoption of RSS at the operating system level means many or all Windows-based software programs in the future can take advantage of this technology. Microsoft gives the example of a screensaver program that automatically retrieves new photos from a family-member’s RSS feed. So, for example, if your sister has a baby, using RSS you can subscribe to get new photos of the baby and have them automatically cycle into your screensaver. Not into baby photos? How about a calendar program (like Outlook) that can be automatically notified when a scheduled-item gets modified or a new item needs added to the calendar. Sports schedules, school schedules, TV schedules, you name it.

Now, to point number two. Well, we actually just discussed it a bit, but let’s cover it a bit more. RSS today is used primarily for subscribing to news content. Instead of frequently visiting a news site to see if there is anything new, RSS facilitates delivery of news directly to you. Microsoft’s extension will encourage uses of RSS like subscribing to a top 10 list for music, photo content like discussed in the previous paragraph, or really any other list or content that someone might want to publish for another’s consumption.

The applications in advertising are numerous.

First, advertising in RSS feeds is beginning to take hold. Since visitors to a news site might not have to actually return to the site to get news, its content providers can now include ads in the RSS feeds they provide to subscribers. Google is already making their AdSense program work with RSS feeds. Some initial reports suggest that advertising in RSS feeds is more productive than email advertising. One study found that CPM through RSS was 1/3 that of email.

Second, clients will increasingly expect their agencies or designers to understand RSS and empower them to offer RSS subscriptions of their website content (articles, press releases, product specials, etc.). Savvy agencies can be ahead of the curve and gain a strategic advantage over other, slower agencies by teaching clients about RSS and identifying clients who can benefit from content subscription.

Finally, with some creativity, a forward-thinking agency can implement RSS to their own benefit. An RSS newsletter to which clients can subscribe and receive information, tips, and information whenever the agency chooses to publish can help strengthen the client relationship and reinforce the perception that the agency is cutting-edge and concerned about the client.

By admin

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