One of the "hot topics" in 2006 marketing circles was the concept of RSS feeds. While most marketers are trying to think of ways they can exploit their marketing objectives through the practice -- I think only a handful of folks in the publishing industry are starting to get it right...
I consume a lot of online media. Most people I know do. And while this post isn't intended to be one of my Google promotion pieces, I will just say that one of the main reasons why Google is so successful is that it helps people get through the massive clutter that is the Internet to find what they were looking for.
In the case of RSS feeds -- we as users are already fairly certain of what we want - and rather than search for it - it's probably preferred if it were merely delivered. So yes, rather than going to the store everyday to pick-up a newspaper, we want it delivered to our house. The difference within this RSS vs. Newspaper metaphor, is that we are very explicit with what custom information we want delivered to us. And whenever there is an update -- I want to know about it right away. I also have the ability to customize the layout as I see fit. (There are several "readers" such as the Personalized Google homepage and MyYahoo, etc)
Now - I'm very high on the concept - and I employ it daily on a number of levels.
My personal consumption (Sports, Friends, Weather, etc)
My professional consumption (Industry news, Google News alerts, industry bloggers, etc)
My entertainment consumption (Authors or concepts I enjoy)
Now in some cases, companies have caught on to the fact that I'm a loyal reader to some portions of their content. For example, ESPN recognized that I enjoy reading The Sports Guy, but I don't want to go searching for his articles (especially with the pop-up - video downloading pages of ESPN.com!). So - ESPN provides me with an RSS feed and I am now in-tune with when Bill Simmons posts a new article and I can click on a link that directs me to it.
An example of where RSS could be better utilized is Bloomberg and The New Yorker (magazine). I'm a big fan of the authors Malcolm Gladwell and Micheal Lewis. I try and read all their books and articles, however, the publications they work for haven't made "author specific" RSS feeds available. (To be honest, I wasn't even aware that Michael Lewis wrote a column for Bloomberg until I started doing a little research for this post...I know - big fan I am)
In the world of vast information availability - if publishers want my eye-balls, they'll need to make the specific information available to me in the way I want to consume it. Otherwise, authors will become their own publishers and we fans will stay loyal to the writers rather than the media publisher.
Also if you want an RSS feed of my blog - Click Here.