June 6, 2005

RSS for Publishers a Must

Simon Waldman, Director of Digital Publishing of Guardian Newspapers (the market leading newspaper site in the UK) posted RSS and News Aggregators: Opportunity or Threat?. Acknowledging that Pew Internet Life found that "five per cent of US internet users said they used an RSS aggregator of newsreader" in a February study, he goes on to say:

The rate of development in this area is also moving at a blistering pace and for two reasons:

First techies love it, so they are putting their own time and effort into coming up with new systems, sites and bits of software to make it better.

Second, investors currently love it. The business models around aggregation are much, much more attractive than those for traditional publishing. You get to become a content gateway –â€" without ever creating any content.

[Hat tip: MarketingVox]. A second MarketingVox post for today (A Crack in the Dam: TV Upfront Sees Break in Prices):

NBC was already facing the need to raise prices just to stay even with last year's revenue levels. Its primetime schedule saw ratings decreases of 17 percent. Even some network TV buyers couldn't stomach that. Some deals are reportedly falling around four percent below the price of last year's upfront prices.

Last year NBC saw $2.3 billion of revenue in upfront primetime sales. Analysts, going on precedent, thought that the network would be able to finagle roughly the same amount this year, even in the face of a loss of audience.

It's pretty easy to see where all this is going. It was easy to see in 1996 when I first got on the Web and realized what it was: a world wide communications medium. Even in those days of super-beveled buttons on websites, the future was clear: no more would traditional media hold the only keys to communication and advertising.

The "big boys" of the old media are seeing a decrease in audience and advertising revenues as viewers find what they want elsewhere — and it is for that viewer audience that such companies are able to charge their often astronomical advertising rates and, in effect, hold advertisers hostage to whatever escalation those rates "experienced" over the years. I'm surprised, actually, that they were surprised, but we've seen this before in absolutely established media. Telephone companies offering dialup in the '90's just couldn't wrap their wits around the concept customer service (and still can't, it seems, even for their DSL service), and so lost market share to companies like Earthlink with its crew of pleasant, knowledgeable staffers — and all without a national network of phone lines to their name.

But you knew all that, right?

I'm hardly against traditional media. I've enjoyed what it provided as much as anyone else. But it pays to know that things don't stay the same forever. Adapt and grow or … don't.

That said, traditional media has deep pockets. Deep pockets. Look for — along with, perhaps, some missteps — increased competition on the Web. Because, as Simon Waldman noted regarding RSS:

In the short term we see it as a critical â€" and I should add cost-effective – way of getting our content to both new and existing readers: particularly at this stage among early adopters and bloggers who are an important audience for us.

If they ain't here yet, they're a-comin', boys.

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