Media Morph: RSS Feeds

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WHAT IT IS: RSS stands for "really simple syndication." It is a distribution system for sending content to subscribers. Consumers use a feed-reader to view the content, which can be a browser, a Web-based service such as MyYahoo or a piece of software such as FeedDemon. Often RSS content is news or headlines, but anything that can be broken down into discrete items can be syndicated.

WHO'S DOING IT: Bloggers started using it early on, sending out their own content. Now media companies such as The Washington Post and CBS News feature feeds.

CONSUMER ADOPTION: Studies vary as they often do with emerging technology, with stats ranging from 2% (Forrester Research) to 5% (Pew) of Americans online subscribe to RSS feeds. Audience size has grown dramatically. One of the largest RSS-publisher serving business, Feedburner, counts 5 million subscribers across its feeds today, up from 250,000 six months ago.

HOW ADS FIT IN: Ads run at the bottom of the feed, in plain text or graphic banner-type ad format. One ad per feed is the current industry standard.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: "It's targeted and completely uncluttered," said Matt Blumberg, CEO of online marketing company ReturnPath, which just sealed a deal to serve ads from its hundreds of advertisers on Feedburner's feeds. People opt in to receive the feeds, so ads can be aimed at their interests.

Media Morph is a new weekly feature looking at how traditional media companies are making use of new technology from cell phones to VOD, podcasting and more to distribute content--and how it’s working.

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