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RSS
How to Directly Monetize RSS
By Rok Hrastnik
Sep 6, 2006, 12:00

RSS, in general, is not a direct monetization marketing channel. Instead, itís best used as an indirect monetization channel, with the primary intent of increasing your marketing effectiveness:

* Get better insight into what content interests your audiences the most, giving you the knowledge you need to publish the content with the highest probability of making a big impact.

* Increase the traffic to your website, by tapping into new sources of traffic online, as well as increasing your traditional search engine rankings.

* Get more of your visitors to come back more often, by enriching your website with relevant content, giving you more opportunities to develop the relationship and make the sale.

* Get your visitors to subscribe to your content and actually get your content delivered to them, without fail.

* Establish improved user interaction processes, to generate more feedback and bring your visitors closer to your brand.

* And much more . . .

All of this is indirect monetization of RSS. In short, you've used RSS to inrecase your marketing effectiveness and impact.

You achieved attention from your audiences and kept it.

But how can RSS now help you monetize this attention?

Transforming Attention Into Revenues

There are several strategies for directly monetizing the attention you achieved with the help of RSS:

1) Monetize RSS by driving more people more frequently to your on-site advertising, increasing the number of ad impressions, ad clicks or commission-based sales.

2) Monetize RSS by placing paid advertisements in your RSS feeds.

3) Monetize RSS by using it to sell your own products

4) Monetize RSS by selling subscriptions to your RSS feeds

Monetize RSS by Driving People to Your On-Site Advertising

If your business is an ad-supported model and most of your ad sales revenues come from selling ad space on your website, either by selling ad impressions, clicks, leads or products on a commission-basis, you need to get more visitors to come to your website more frequently.

RSS in this case performs as a vehichle that helps you get your RSS subscribers to your website more often, where they are exposed to the advertising that you're making money from.

This tactic requires publishing summary RSS feeds, where subscribers are compelled to visit your website to get all the information they are looking for.

The whole point is getting RSS subscribers from the RSS feed to your website, which makes it unwise to publish full-text articles of your content in your RSS feeds, since subscribers get all of the content from the feed and are not motivated strongly enough to visit your website.

Monetize RSS by Placing Paid Advertising in Your RSS Feeds

But, if on-site advertising is not your primary source of revenues and you prefer publishing full-text content in your RSS feeds, you can still monetize RSS by placing paid advertisements within your full-text content items in your RSS feeds.

This way you can afford to keep your subscribers in the RSS Reader, where they read your full articles, without driving them to your website, and still expose them to paid advertising in the feed.

The reason it is recommended to publish full-text feeds if you intend to place ads within individual content items is that with summary feeds your subscribers might feel as if being taken advantage of by having to see your ads. With full-text articles they usually see the ads as the price they need to pay for getting a full-text RSS feed.

But either way, this is still quite a grey area with not enough data to make it absolutely certain whether full-text feeds are requirement for placing ads within RSS feed content items.

On the other hand, if you still want to use RSS to primarily drive subscribers to your website with summary feeds, but also want to monetize your RSS feeds with RSS advertising, you can also publish infrequent stand-alone or ads in the feed, which are published as individual content items instead of being published as inline ads within individual content items.

You can use this approach with either summary or full-text feeds, but be warned not to turn your RSS feeds into billboards. If there is not enough valuable content and too much advertising, people will simply unsubscribe.

Monetize RSS by Using it to Sell Your Own Products

The same approaches that can be used for placing paid advertisements in RSS feeds, such as inline or stand-alone RSS ads, or driving people to your website as the prevailing RSS monetization model, also work if you want to monetize RSS to promote and sell your own products and services. The same principles apply.

But, in the case of using RSS to sell your own products, you may also implement RSS feeds that are in and of themselves pure advertising for your products - product RSS feeds.

Simply put, whole RSS feeds that carry only your product information, with each content item representing one product. Think in terms of RSS feeds for your latest products, top products, top discounted products and so on.

However, the only way this will work is if your subscribers actually want to receive constant product information from you, either because you are their preferred online shopping destination, or because they want to take advantage of the latest deals and simillar.

Monetize RSS by Selling Subscriptions to Your RSS Feeds

Before you start thinking that RSS feeds are such a valuable content delivery channel for the end-user that you can just start selling subscriptions to them, think again.

RSS is not a business model.

And people won't pay for RSS feed subscriptions.

What people do pay for is valuable content.

You can't sell them RSS feed subscriptions just because it's RSS, but you can sell access to your content and offer RSS as an additional channel through which your paid subscribers may access the content they are really paying to subscribe to.

Just remember, RSS is not the "product" in this case, the content is. But RSS is a way for you to get this content to the subscriber in a reliable and secure fashion.

Seeing the Big Picture

If up until now you've been under the impression that RSS is only good for getting content delivered to end-users, you can now apprechiate the big picture of all that RSS really has to offer.

It is not a singular channel that can do only one thing. Instead, it provides marketers with an abundance of way and methods to improve their marketing effectiveness.

The more thorough you are implementing it in your organization and in your marketing, the more benefits you will reap.

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