Simon Waldman of Guardian says,There is only one thing to understand about RSS and news aggregators. Excerpts with edits and comments from his speech made recently.
None of these has been developed to make traditional publishers’ lives any easier or our businesses any healthier. It is all there for our readers – and it does a very good job for them. The result is that the world of RSS and aggregation is fraught with complexity, but understanding it and coping with it is, one of the most critical parts of a successful long term online publishing strategy.
It works – and it will work - because the underlying proposition for internet users, including all our readers, is phenomenally strong: the content you want, when you want it, where you want it.There are a host of services that allow people to get feeds of all sorts of information – news, jobs, pictures and, now audio in the form of podcasting. The variety of services – and the fact that in all cases they allow internet users to have greater control over what information they get and when they get it gives the killer effect to the phenomenon.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 – without ever creating any content.
So, over the last year we have seen Yahoo move My Yahoo to RSS and Microsoft do the same with My MSN. We have also seen a wave of Venture Capital investment and acquisition activity in the aggregator market, as well as RSS being integrated with Firefox, Safari and Opera web browers.In the short term RSS & Aggregators are critical – and add cost-effective - way of getting our content to both new and existing readers: particularly at this stag among early adopters and bloggers who are an important audience for us. The current RSS feed activity results in less than 2% of Guardian’s traffic. And it seems to be about that level for most publishers. It has grown considerably over the last year – and will continue to grow as we roll out more services. But in the grand scheme of things it is still quite small .However, along with Yahoo, Guardian is banking on this only becoming more popular over time, and believe that with more guardian does the more it will understand later when there is less time to experiment.
Three critical issues Gaurdian faces with RSS :
- The first is what’s happening to readers.
- The second is what’s happening to content.
- And the third – is what’s going to happen to classified ads.
The online landscape is changing rapidly, and not necessarily in a way that makes things easier for us. Those who deal with the issues thrown up by RSS and aggregation over the next 18 months will, find themselves in a much, much healthier shape to face the next set of challenges that the internet throws our way.