Why Google and Apple Want to Kill RSS Content Readers


By Seth Price

Industry News

Why Google and Facebook are killing RSS

RSS is Finally Dead, and Advertising is to Blame

I’m a religious user of Google’s RSS Reader app to help me keep up with all the content that I’m interested in. But as I survey the landscape of web- and desktop-based software, I get the feeling that a few of my favorite companies (most recently, Apple) are intent on killing RSS for good.

The death knell has been rung for RSS before, but this time it’s different. Traffic patterns have changed over the last couple years. Take a look at the top referring sources of traffic (i.e., Google, Facebook, and Twitter) to major blogs and websites, and you’ll see that in most cases, they account for more visitors than direct traffic.

Sheep, not Subscribers

What we’re talking about is the rise of throwaway content. Followers, not subscribers, are driving content creation and advertising dollars via LOL cats, fallen starlets, and the scandal du jour.

While this model is enormously profitable for the aggregators and social networks that host the followers, the content sites themselves are getting a raw deal. Sure, followers can provide a sudden boost in traffic; but that surge usually doesn’t last.

This leads to a system in which site owners spend all their time guessing at the whims of the web, rather than producing rich, informative content. Meanwhile, Facebook, Twitter, and Google are reaping all the advertising revenue.

What We’ll Miss

It’s a shame, because RSS has huge advantages for users and website owners. For one, RSS is more profitable for owners. Having readers coming back to your site on a consistent basis is better for ad sales and lead conversion. Unfortunately, Facebook and Twitter can’t make money off it.

RSS is also a comparatively private platform. Subscribers can use RSS to curate a list of content they like, without having to take on a corporate-owned identity that tracks their every habit and violates their privacy.

Finally, RSS is an open platform. It’s easy for content websites to employ because it doesn’t require them to use someone else’s API, like Twitter and Facebook’s “like” and “follow” buttons do. Sadly, we’re seeing a trend in web tech away from open standards and diversity and toward proprietary protectionism—and RSS users aren’t likely to rise up against Apple the way Twitter users have rebelled against its recent rule changes.

I’ll continue to use RSS to weed out the content I have no interest in and maintain some degree of control. More and more, however, I can’t shake the feeling that the companies that once promised us options are now herding us into a pen.

Related Articles

featured image - top real estate marketing secrets and strategies from placester nurture con Nurture Con Recap: Real Estate Marketing Secrets & Strategies
personal branding tips The Road to Recognition: Real Estate Branding Insights from Placester's Seth Price
real-estate-email-autoresponders-realtor-marketing The 7 Ways Email Autoresponders Help Agents Secure Real Estate Leads
engaging real estate website content The Weiniger Group Judy Weiniger Placester The Value of Engaging IDX Website Content: A Conversation with Judy Weiniger
Get our Newsletter Follow Placester