Ad Supported RSS

Greg Reinacker is thinking about personalized RSS marketing. Now, I’ve already gone on record with my support for Ad Supported RSS. But I think Greg is being a bit ambitious in his thinking.

I’ve always liked the concept of personalization. But my actual experiences with it have fallen short of the mark. In the first place, personalization doesn’t scale worth beans. So you better be dealing with high value customers. And in the second place, good personalization is hard. Amazon has superb intelligence on my book buying habits and their recommendations are boringly predictable.

Personalizing RSS is contrary to it’s advantages of scalabilty and anonymity. An RSS server always be bandwidth limited because it’s serving up slowly changing, text dominated, static files. And it’s easy to walk away from an RSS subscription because you have so little invested in it. Categories are the reasonable extent of RSS personalization for the next few years.

So while I think we’ll see ad supported RSS, I think that it will appear as an extension of the email newsletter. Not personalized, but focused on a fairly narrow topic. Ads will be tolerated because they’ll match their feed in style and they’ll be on topic.