Research: RSS crossing into the Mainstream

My team at Yahoo! recently partnered with Ipsos Insight on research into how many people on the Internet are using RSS (whether or not they know the “RSS” term) and how they are using it. We presented this research at our Web 2.0 party and then posted it online at our Publisher’s Guide to RSS (it’s over on the right side).

I was happy to see that much of the research confirmed what a lot of us already felt:

  • Only 12% of the internet population has heard the term RSS
  • Only 4% of the population has heard of AND uses RSS
  • 27% of the internet population uses RSS but doesn’t know that its called RSS.

After hearing all of this at the event Bob Wyman asked “we’re not Yahoo!, what advice can you give us based on this research?”. This research confirms other research I’ve seen and what I’ve said for a long time: consumers care about the benefits of RSS, not the technology. Focus your message on what your service does for consumers, not how it does it.

There’s tons more great info in the research so be sure to check it out, but a few more highlights:

  • My Yahoo! was the #1 way that “unaware” users used RSS (no surprise)
  • Among “aware RSS users” – the people “in the know” – My Yahoo! was also the #1 RSS reader! (a bit of a surprise with all the talk of other aggregators)
  • And about that orange XML button? Only 4% of the internet population ever clicked on it and half of those people said they either left the site or forgot what they did afterwards. We’ve got to make this easier for folks – we are losing 1/2 of the users who WANT to subscribe to content.
  • So how do people add content to their reader?
    • Over 50% use the list that comes with their aggregator. So if you are publishing feeds, you better make sure you are in everyone’s search index.
    • 27% used Add to My Yahoo! buttons to add feeds (that’s great for Yahoo! and jives with what we know: over 8 million web pages have that button on it already) but I still think there can be an more easy, open industry-wide way to do this better.

My hope is that this research can get out there to publishers and to other tech/rss companies and we can all begin to really take RSS to the next wave. Yahoo!’s been aggregating RSS for almost two years and other companies for even longer than that. Now as more companies are joining the party, we all need to come together and figure out how to take this to tens and hundreds of millions of users…

7 thoughts on “Research: RSS crossing into the Mainstream”

  1. Scott–

    Good to see you posting again. I was a little worried that you weren’t going to live up to your 3 posts/week pledge.

    I’m enjoying the blog. Keep up the good work.

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