Here's a copy of a note I just sent to I-Advertising about RSS feeds. As email marketing struggles with deliverability issues, I can see marketers investigating other distribution channels like RSS. It has all the pros of email (content pushed to the recipient's desktop) without the cons (spam, blacklists, filters etc.). It's going to be interesting to see how marketers use this technology, if at all...
RSS is a code format. Websites can code content using this format and make the file (feed) available for download.
If a user has, for example, RSS-enabled software (like an RSS newsreader) they can "subscribe" to these RSS feeds. Which means when they're online, the software will connect with the originator of the feed, and check to see if any new content has been added. If it has, then the new content is downloaded and displayed by the reader.
From the content provider's perspective, the deliverability issues associated with email (spam filters, blacklists etc.) disappear.
Many sites make such RSS feeds available, including the likes of CNET, Microsoft and numerous weblogs.
There are various uses for these feeds, particularly for content syndication, but obviously one of them is for feeding people the kind of stuff you might otherwise send out in an email newsletter.
Its mainstream success presumably depends on end users having the appropriate software installed. But there is already software available which integrates with your email client, and "rumors" of some of the larger email services and software manufacturers building RSS capabilities into their products.
I'm not terribly familiar with RSS but there are plenty of devotees around. Perhaps one can correct / expand the above.
Excellent overview with links
A popular RSS news aggregator that runs in MS Outlook
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