Aggregation May Be Dead, But No One Has Told the Advertisers

Just getting my own 2 cents in on the theme du jour – Zoli’s had his, and Marshall has come back with a blistering post. But anyway…

Over on ZDNet, Sam Diaz posted what can only be described as a silly post 9actually one of my blogging heroes Bob Warfield called it just that) in which he declared, in a sermon-from-the-mount type way that RSS is dead.

His post was a result of a Google reader team blog entry that looked at what items an elite group of users where reading. Google came up with a “recommended list” for some industry “elites”.

So far, so good. But then Sam went on to pronounce that he no longer logs into a feed reader but rather gets his information from other sources. In his words (highlighting mine);

I catch headlines on Yahoo News and Google News. I have a pretty extensive lineup of browser bookmarks to take me to sites that I scan throughout the day. Techmeme is always in one of my browser tabs so I can keep a pulse on what others in my industry are talking about. And then there are Twitter and Facebook. I actually pick up a lot of interesting reading material from people I’m following on Twitter and some friends on Facebook, with some of it becoming fodder for blog posts here…my sources of for reading material are scattered across the Web, not in one aggregated spot.

In a somewhat cutting comment, that only someone of his stature can get away with, Bob commented saying;

If you’re getting your news every which way but blogs, why blog here? Your readers evidently would do as you do, no?

Sure there are plenty of new channels to aggregate, what with Facebook, Twitter et al, but to proclaim the end of RSS and, by association, aggregation is ludicrous. Techmeme is, after all an aggregative channel, what is Twitter if not a large aggregation point? And if aggregation is truly dead, then why is ZDNet seemingly able to attract advertisers with what is, essentially, an aggregative model?

Sam’s knee jerk analysis that “RSS readers are a Web 1.0 tool” is also simplistic (sorry Sam). True a pure aggregative play with no viewer input would seem to fall into the general “1.0” pool. While a fully engaged medium feels more like 2.0 – but the fact of the matter is that RSS is an excellent tool to cross the divide between those two forms of consumption – especially so since Google have introduced more engagement-centric ways of users too communicate in reader.

So no, RSS is far from dead, aggregation is alive and kicking and Sam’s, Zoli’s Marshall’s and my pay packet depends, at least in part, upon that. SO… if Sam’s not using a feed reader, what are others doing?

Marshall has gone all hyper-tech on us, his explanation was kind of 2001 A Space Odyssey;

Our team scans over thousands of company RSS feeds each morning for updates (what news writer wouldn’t do that?) and we use an open source customizable meme-tracker to make sure we haven’t missed anything important. We use open source RSS parsing software to set up a dashboard tracking all our competitors’ feeds, we use an RSS to IM alert system to get some feeds sent to us right away and at least some of us use Gmail Webclips for another layer of ambient feed tracking.

We use Postrank to track breakout hits in niche blogs and we use tools like Snackr or the just-launched LazyFeed to keep an eye on specific feeds or general topics.

My head hurt just reading that! Here at CloudAve we’re a little less analytical than Marshall – but we’re all still using a bunch of tools. Personally I use Google reader, a bunch of Google searches RSS’d to my reader. A few Twitter scans and the ever present TechMeme. That and a watching brief over most of our direct competitors keeps me pretty much in the loop.

So it seems the jury is back and, while not quite unanimous, the RSS brigade would seem to have the numbers at this point – and if revenue is any indication, they’ll continue to do so for awhile yet.

 

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2 Comments
  • I read that and thought some of these guys think too much of Social Networking sites and such.

    There is no way I would hope through 500+ websites every day, with the extreme overhead of loading stylesheets, ads, looking through pages and pages of news when I can just skim over headlines on my Feedreader. What I read in half a day is way more than I could if I were to be hoping on the InternetWebTubes.

    • Totally agree Mauricio – anyone that says anything is dead should be regarded with suspicion

      Well… maybe not the Moa, I'm pretty sure they're all gone (and the Dodo and the Huia and and and)

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