Help me make a business case for RSS
April 21, 2006 7:28 PM   Subscribe

I need to try to make a business case that my internet company should start publishing RSS feeds. We like traffic, and my claim is that RSS will bring new traffic in. But I don't have a frame of reference for how much. It would be great to know, for example, what percentage of MetaFilter's users click in from an RSS reader. Any data from CNET or any other site, really, would be helpful. How much traffic growth can RSS drive?
posted by scarabic to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Ridiculous though it sounds, the execs I have to win over are not-particularly-savvy types who barely know what RSS is if they've even heard of it. But if I can even offer them a simple stat like "2 million people in the US have tried an RSS reader of some kind" then I'd have SOMETHING they could understand. Help!
posted by scarabic at 7:31 PM on April 21, 2006

Creating an RSS feed from some stream of data that is already being utlilized for the web will take, oh, I don't know, a few hours to implement. It's not rocket science, and it's an extremely minor investment in time.

I sell it to my clients like this: We're already building a data feed. Making one in RSS format and putting a link to it wins you many many cool points for an insignificant investment.
posted by glenwood at 7:36 PM on April 21, 2006

There are several websites that I really enjoy reading, but never remember to, because they don't have an RSS feed to let me know when there's new stuff up.

I know this is purely anecodotal and not in any way data.
posted by evariste at 8:17 PM on April 21, 2006

I think it's going to be a hard sell because we're all early adopters sort of by definition. From Wikipedia:

Since mid-2000, use of RSS has spread to many of the major news organizations, including Reuters, CNN, PR Newswire, and the BBC.

In November, 2002, the New York Times began offering its readers the ability to subscribe to RSS news feeds related to various topics. In January, 2003, Winer called the New York Times' adoption of RSS the "tipping point" in driving the RSS format's becoming a de facto standard.

In November 2005, Microsoft proposed its Simple Sharing Extensions [14] to RSS, informally named "Real Simple Synchronization" [15] by Colm Smyth.

See this for the source. Also:

50 Million US & UK RSS Users Do Not Know They Use RSS -- How to Reach Them

RSS users worldwide at 275 million? Ubiquitous RSS is almost upon us


This should be more than enough to get you started, eh?
posted by oxonium at 8:28 PM on April 21, 2006

I use a couple of feeds, and I really love them. Whether it is a good idea for a particular business really depends on the type of traffic they are looking for, I guess..

I mean, half of the benefit is that you don't have to visit sites as often, and you can avoid introduction pages more easily. A short sighted business might think those are negatives. They aren't, of course. Making life easy for your customers is always good for business in the long term.
posted by Chuckles at 8:40 PM on April 21, 2006

I found this page which claims: "RSS is currently used or is planned to be used within the next 12 months by 63% of consumer product marketers, 65% media and communications marketers, 37% retail marketers, 37% financial services marketers and 38% equipment and tech marketers."

63% of consumer product marketers can't be wrong...
posted by benign at 8:41 PM on April 21, 2006

Here's one data point for you: I browse all my daily blogs, forums and news sources via RSS (in Newsfire).

If it ain't got RSS I ain't gettin' it.

Seriously, RSS is so shit-easy to implement it's nuts not to do it since many people like me simply don't regularly visit non-RSS sites. Even if that number is relatively small, it is growing.

And RSS is SO freakin' easy.
posted by unSane at 9:26 PM on April 21, 2006

RSS makes money, plain and simple. I don't have the link handy, but search google for RSS, Amazon, and the word revenue because they published results on their experiments with RSS.

They found that people subscribing to say, the new electronics feed that they were interested in actually bought new products that came out and showed up in the feed! It's a no brainer today, but back when Amazon first launched RSS feeds on almost any category page, people thought they were nuts. They created millions of dollars in new revenue from it.
posted by mathowie at 9:36 PM on April 21, 2006

That's kinda what I'm saying, unSane. If you're outputting data out of a db anyway, why wouldn't you offer rss feeds if people want 'em?
posted by ph00dz at 9:45 PM on April 21, 2006

One website I admin (link in profile) has an RSS feed on its blog (which is not the main part of the site by far). This link is the second most popular URL on the site (by number of hits) after the front page, which is to be expected as it gets called any time somebody who has added it to her rss reader refreshes her feeds.
posted by signal at 10:56 PM on April 21, 2006

RSS is push done right. It really ought to be a no-brainer. As unsane noted, it is incredibly easy to implement. For virtually no work, you are buying front page real-estate on an early-adopter's browser that lights up everytime you have an update. Assuming you have content that is published in a blog-like format, and readers interested in subscribing to it, the upside is huge, and the downside is virtually nil (unless you are concerned about the bandwidth cost, or use of your data)

Sorry no data for you, but the above is the spiel I give any website owner without a feed. Count me as someone who surfs almost exclusively via RSS.
posted by Manjusri at 2:57 AM on April 22, 2006

Thanks! You guys are great. I've been giving the spiel already, but having some research and numbers to plug into it will push it over the top.
posted by scarabic at 10:42 AM on April 22, 2006

This Yahoo! white paper from October 2005 was pretty interesting.
posted by scarabic at 10:52 AM on April 22, 2006

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