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RSS Marketing - Is it just hype? or the next best channel?

At my workplace on the intranet, there was a poll yesterday asking whether they use RSS. Various options were given, like 'Love the conveniece of RSS', ' planning to use' etc etc and final one was 'What is rss?'. To my surprise, 71% of people voted for the big question, 'What is RSS?' and only about 4% said they love the convenience of RSS. There were around 700 votes total over a period of 2 days, and the % of 'what is rss?' always almost stood around that 70% mark throughout the poll.

Baffled by this low percentage of users in a IT company where people spend most of their time on the computers, I searched  for RSS stats in google to find out the figures among common users. I could not see any recent stats in year 2006. But I found some interesting stats at Rss Diary post 'A challenge to the RSS Industry: RSS stats unacceptable':

Let's simply take a look at some of the more recent stats released by various research companies and others, pertaining to the adoption and use of RSS.

It seems that no one can really agree on how many people are really using RSS, knowingly or unknowingly.

And there is a link to Yahoo RSS White paper 'RSS - Crossing into the mainstream' published in Oct, 2005 says that only 4% of users knowingly use RSS feeds. However there are about 28% people use RSS without even knowing that they are using RSS.

Despite this surprisingly low percentage of RSS-aware users, many companies are planning to invest lots of money on RSS as their prime marketing channel. Another blog post on Rss Diary points to a supplement released by AdAge, Ad Age Interactive Marketing & Media Fact Pack 2006 [PDF], points out that

RSS is currently used or is planned to be used within the next 12 months by 63% of consumer product marketers, 65% media and communications marketers, 37% retail marketers, 37% financial services marketers and 38% equipment and tech marketers.

Looking at such a low percentage of users that know about RSS and use RSS, and such a high percentage of firms planning to invest in RSS for marketing, I am wondering whether RSS is a hype or really the next best channel to market their respective products. Looking at the figures, I have no clue.

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