I’ve discussed the Matt McAlister warning that the decade-old online publishing model of "visit my site, read my content, rack up page views, see the ads" is doomed by RSS in past posts. So I won’t flog that horse again.
A couple items reinforce my belief that this concept is getting positively "memetic."
While listening to the Gillmor Gang on my homeward bound commute yesterday, one of the pundits opined that once a user experiences the convenience of RSS syndication into an aggregator, they never go back to the old behavior of clicking off to a destination site. This is very true. Once users get over the syllogism that RSS equals blogs, but truly equals the delivery, not the pull of information, then the magic of the syndication model becomes apparent.
The threat of course is that the old online publishing mission of getting people into a site and keeping them there goes away, and with it goes the ad impressions and the possibility of measuring the time spent, the clickstream, the clickthroughs, etc.
Then MIN’s B2B newsletter published Steve Smith’s thoughts on the McAlister view of the RSS world and advertising (I’d link but the piece is impossible to find) that ends with this warning:
"With newsreaders getting easier to use, major brands like NYTimes.com are embracing the format. Now, as RSS is incorporated into browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox and the next version of Internet Explorer, rolling your own online media will be as automatic as maintaining your own browser bookmarks. Face it. You’re about to get TiVo-ed.[my emphasis]"
This is going to be a fun challenge to figure out. While I don’t think the InfoWorld experiment in pushing big graphics or even text ads through the RSS payload is going to come close to a big revenue lift for publisher — and be a hedge against any future declines in impression advertising or reader response/lead generation, it is a good traffic development lever to pull at the very least. If RSS 2.0 gets "unfrozen" and the concept of microformats within RSS enclosures as embodied by the new Atom standard comes to the mainstream RSS world, then the possibilities of inventing a new revenue stream may become more obvious.