Staci D. Kramer at OJR has written a well researched article looking into the current sate of play of RSS in the online news space. (Via Scripting.com)

 

Also, an interesting discussion happening over at Dave Winer's Reallysimplesyndication site regarding the rights and wrongs of advertising within RSS feeds. (Via Steve Rubel)

 

I’ve called out below some points from the OJR article around usage, business model and attitudes to RSS by online news editors/product managers:

 

The Christian Science Monitor's csmonitor.com started in October 2002 with 1,000 RSS files served; last March it served nearly three million. Sites adding it recently see mounting interest, particularly as more articles about RSS make it into the consumer press....

 

Csmonitor.com actually offers an RSS text ad on its rate card but nobody has bought it yet, according to partnership development specialist Joel Abrams. "I suspect it's a hard sell for our ad reps," Abrams wrote in an e-mail. "It's difficult enough to sell a banner ad, which everyone pretty much understands at this point."...

 

Boston.com is getting 10,000-15,000 page views a week from RSS feeds. Without marketing beyond the RSS link on the front page, traffic has increased 10-fold since the feeds were introduced earlier this year -- partly in response to reader requests...

 

But "pure business" is a factor keeping Belo [http://www.projo.com/rss/] from embracing RSS. "Our own index pages display ads; that's one way we pay the bills," explains Small. "Despite some clunky initial examples, I've yet to be impressed by any demonstrated customer experience for advertising in RSS. So if we go out and expose feeds that replicate our own indexes, ad-free, we risk diluting potential audience for the ads we serve. That may sound defensive and reactionary, but what it amounts to is: We're waiting as fast as we can."...

After exploring various RSS readers, Jay Small at Belo is softening his resistance to RSS as a possible substitute for e-mail newsletters. "I used to say RSS doesn't represent 'distribution' in a sense as meaningful as e-mail. But I do think RSS reader software has evolved to be nearly as intuitive as the concept of an e-mail inbox."...

But Rosenberg [Salon senior vice president of editorial operations/managing editor] doesn't see RSS as a potential solo revenue stream, although he says the company is closely watching RSS advertising experiments like the text ads-in-feed at InfoWorld. "Plainly, ads in feeds would need to be relevant to the user -- perceived to have some value -- otherwise, the user will just unsubscribe," Rosenberg wrote.  "My hunch is that ads-in-feeds is not the future; instead, the business value of the feed is in building traffic to the site. With the ad market picking up again, everyone is back to thinking about ways to build traffic." ...

Mark Coatney, deputy editor of Time.com, said RSS had been under discussion for a while but didn't start coming together until a month before the launch. Within an hour and without any publicity, the page listing the nine RSS feeds had 160 page views...

"We had that debate -- this is going to be for the five percent of people who do this. But it's going to grow," says Coatney. "Only 10 percent of Web users read blogs but it's an influential group. We wanted to be in on the ground floor. It was really a matter of allocating the resources to do it."...

A week later, at a very rough count the site [Time.com] was getting 500-1,000 RSS feed users a day. Coatney says he's happy with that, especially given that Time.com has yet to announce the launch or promote the feeds beyond the front-page link.  He's also enjoying positive reviews; one blogger complimented the site for explaining RSS in non-geek language.