RSS going mainstream

TNW2011 logoThere’s more evidence this week that full-feed RSS is about to become a go-to technology for all forms of media. At TNW2011 in Amsterdam, companies showed off new technologies, and there seem to be many that duplicate in some way the model of Flipboard, what Steve Jobs described last year as Apple’s favorite iPad app. Flipboard presents RSS feeds in a magazine-style reading format, but it can only do its magic with a site that provides full-feed RSS. In Amsterdam, another technology does the same thing, only this one works in a browser. Pressjack is still in development, but it allows users to create a magazine with multiple feeds and then upload it to the Web for others to see. Pressjack’s Hannah Baldero told The Next Web (TNW) that they’re not really a Flipboard competitor.

“While working with our customers to develop new features it became apparent many clients did not have design resources in-house so updating a publication was a lengthy process. We also wanted to address the matter that with a traditional publication, the content is fixed to the time the publication went to print. Readers were moving online as they demanded more up-to-date news.

“So, we started about trying to design a technology that would allow publications to update themselves without the need for any design resources and this is where PressJack sprang from. We wanted to ensure a digital edition was always displaying the latest news.”

RSS logoThere’s also Yahoo’s Livestand — “Livestand is a digital newsstand that’s always fresh and effortlessly personalized. Sit back and enjoy the news, entertainment, and local information you love, right on your tablet. The more you use it, the more it gets to know you.” — Treesaver, another browser-based tablet reader — Treesaver will soon be releasing a set of templates for publishers to use and the technology will be open sourced, allowing anyone to customize the idea as they choose. — and NewsAnchor is a Mac app that reads your RSS feeds to you.

These readers are all designed for tablets, and they don’t play well with feeds that are meant to tease users and push them to the home of origin. This will usher in the age of unbundled media about which I’ve been writing for the past 6+ years, and media, especially local media, is totally unprepared. Oh, it’s easy to turn the switch and make full-feeds for consumption in these devices; but how to we make money in so doing?

If all of these companies wish to display advertising around this content, there will have to be some form of licensing developed. Feeds can be password-protected, although my preference would be otherwise. Ads “as” items in a feed is a whole different animal, for what advertiser wouldn’t want his content displayed in magazine form via Flipboard or any other reader? There’s also feed sponsorships, which would also include mentions in the stream.

Of course, media companies could put out their own reader-apps, but they would have a tough time letting go of the content permissions, because we’re so stuck in the past about the value of ours! The user-customization aspect is what troubles media companies and their apps. It’s a matter of control.

But make no mistake, this is coming faster than you think. My advice is to jump in with both feet and start experimenting with your best advertisers. It’s not about CPMs; it’s about the value of such unique or exclusive exposure. Early in gets the worm, if I can twist the old metaphor. Your RSS feeds will one day be far more valuable than your own app.

For more insight into the mainstreaming of RSS this week, read Mathew Ingram’s Are Apps Like Flipboard the Future of Media?

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