Of news users and RSS feeds

I’m in San Francisco this week with a client and catching up with Bay Area friends, so I don’t have a lot of time to blog. However, there are two articles in today’s Online Media Daily that I want to pass along for my news colleagues.

Burst! Media (who is partnering with WKRN-TV in Nashville to create an ad network for local bloggers) released a study that shows the most sought-after content by Web users these days is news. 62% of the 64-hundred respondents reported that they are most interested in news when they go online. The next most popular category was entertainment. Onling gaming was tops for the younger demos.

This is significant in my mind, because local media companies that aren’t exploiting this TO ITS FULLEST POTENTIAL are already too late to make a significant dent in the habits being formed today.

The second item is even more significant. E‑mail marketing giant Return Path has formed a partnership with FeedBurner to provide ads in RSS feeds.

Matt Blumberg, Return Path’s chief executive and founder, said the time had come for publishers to start monetizing RSS. “As long as publishers have the right tools, RSS offers a great ad-supported model for the future of online publishing,” Blumberg said.

In the last year, FeedBurner has gone from 10,000 feeds going out to 50,000 consumers to 100,000 feeds being sent to 5 million, according to Brent Hill, vice president of business development at FeedBurner. In other words, the firm’s RSS subscriber reach has been growing by 40 percent per month for the past six months.

“As the user base for RSS expands, advertising to that base will become an important part of any integrated marketing plan,” Hill said. “With this new delivery channel, publishers can opt to monetize their feeds, allowing advertisers to reach a consistent and growing audience with a fully ‘permissioned’ relationship.”

While I have a lot of questions about this (E‑mail marketing sounds a lot like spam), I view this as yet another watershed moment in the stunning growth of the tools of the personal media revolution, and it has ramifications that go way beyond this particular alliance.

We’re going to be experimenting with forms of RSS advertising here in Nashville, and I think you’ll all be surprised at the outcome. Stay tuned.

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