Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yahoo! Pipes a Dream Come True for RSS Marketers ... and a Huge Threat

Posted by Rok Hrastnik in RSS Latest News


A Marketer's Dream Come True

Robin Good must be licking his fingers right now. In an interview we did back in February 2005 we discussed RSS NewsMastering, the act of ...

taking multiple RSS feeds, search engine results and other content sources,
mixing and aggregating them together,
filtering the results with the keywords pertaining to your interests,
and creating a highly relevant and automatically updated content resource on a specific topic, pulling content from dozens, hundreds or thousands of content sources around the globe.
This was a dream come true for marketers, enabling them to ...

enrich the visitor experience on their websites to increase visitor loyalty and visit frequency, by automatically providing visitors access to the latest and most relevant focused content in your industry, without having to actually write the content yourself;
make your website more relevant to the search engines for your top keywords;
become a prime access point for key influencers looking for latest and most relevant news in your industry;
conduct business intelligence easier and quicker than before, constantly knowing what the market is saying about you, about your competitors, what your competitors are doing and so on.
The only problem back then was that applications offering NewsMastering capabilities were few and far between. Things started improving with FeedDigest, mySyndicaat, Feed Rinse, Ning and others, but with farily limited functionalities.

Yahoo! Pipes Offering NewsMastering on Steroids

But today Yahoo! changed everything with its launch of Yahoo! Pipes.

The general idea behind Yahoo! Pipes is to allow its users to "easily" connect various internet data sources, mix them together in various ways, add additional functionality to them and create a new single output, pertaining directly to your settings.

In simpler words ...

Select various online content sources, RSS feeds or others
Define your own rules on how you want to use these different content sources
Create an output that matches your needs
While this may sound alot like the standard RSS aggregation & filtering tools we mentioned above, it actually goes much further than anything on the market in enabling you to manipulate outside sources and come up with a new content output, all of this in a visual programming environment.

The "old services" simply allowed you to combine various RSS feeds, set some basic rules on how you want to get content from them, such as limiting the output to only the content items that match your keywords and removing duplicates, and get a new single RSS feed from them. You could then subscribe to this RSS feed in your RSS Reader (for business intelligence purposes) or use it to display its contents on your website.

But Yahoo! Pipes goes much further.

[BTW - in the Yahoo! Pipes glossary, a pipe is an output you create from mixing and manipulating various content sources]

Aggregate and Filter any XML Feed

Aggregate any kind of XML feed, not just RSS, which means that if your application provides an XML data output, you can now aggregate that data feed with other different feeds you might be interested in, and create a single RSS feed that you can subscribe to in your RSS Reader. Just as an example, imagine having an RSS feed that brings you various data from your organization in a single output, such as the latest sales data from your webstore, latest account of company expenses, notifications of new employees, important team communications, your website visitor counts and so on. It even lets you combine other pipes into a new single pipe.

Content Manipulation

Apply various filters, such as a keyword content filter to give you only the content you're interested in, sort, count, truncate, join or even create your own filters. It even lets you add your own input fields. For example, you could create a pipe that aggregates all the RSS feeds from top online retailers, and include an input field that allows you to enter the name of the product you want the latest deals on, and then creates an on-the-fly output with the latest deals for this product. Essentially, it allows you to add simple or advanced search functionalities to filter out only the content you're really interested in ... from hundreds or even thousands of content sources.

Social Applications

Browse through pipes created by other users to either use them as an end-user, or use their pipes to create your own new pipes. It of course also allows you to make your own pipes public and even provide them as a service to end-users.
There are really almost countless opportunities of what you can do with Yahoo! Pipes, and various new applications will surface when the service gets some milage.

The best part is, you can either create your own application that you use when the need arises from the Web, or an RSS feed that you subscribe to in your RSS Reader, to constantly deliver to you the content that you want. Or you can use the RSS feed to display that content on your website.

All of this is done through a visual interface, which might be daunting for the average user, but shouldn't present a problem to marketers that either have the time to learn the ropes or pay a little something to a person that already has.

How Marketers Will Profit from Yahoo! Pipes

If you're thinking of how you can profit from Yahoo! Pipes as a marketer, there really are countless opportunities.

Provide highly relevant streams of content on your website to enrich the visitor experience.
Become a preferred access point to relevant and latest content in your industry.
Build applications that allow your visitors to easily access the content they're interested in.
Take your business intelligence activities to the next level.
And much much more ...

With all the capabilities available through Yahoo! Pipes, countless new opportunities will certainly arise quickly.

The best part is, you can now more easily take advantage of them.

Threats for Marketers

But while Yahoo! Pipes makes the NewsMastering process increadibly easy, it also comes with as many threats for marketers.

Mass Syndication of Your Content

RSS by itself already made syndication of your RSS content easy.
While you may (and should) be happy about easily spreading your content to help you generate more credibility, brand recognition and traffic from other sources, Yahoo! Pipes will bring these syndication levels to a whole new level. It will make it easy for anyone to access just individual content items from your RSS feeds through countless applications, putting your content entirely out of your content context and brand context.

Your website and your own stream of content as a whole will start mattering less and less, since individual pieces of your content will start being increasingly syndicated more than your content as a whole.

There is now immediately more potential for just a single piece of your content to get more readership and reach than all of your content combined together. In many cases this may be good, but it also means that this decreases the number of total touch-points you will have with your audiences.

It might mean more exposure for a single piece of content, but much less exposure to the entire universe of your content, making audience loyalty and conversion even more difficult to achieve.

Mass Manipulation of Your Content

But it's not just about syndication. Yahoo! Pipes actually allows users to further manipulate your content items, for example removing your links, calls to action, advertising or mixing your content with other content sources. While you may want to syndicate your content as widely as possible, you will now need to invest special care to also protect your content more.

Easy Access

And finally, Yahoo! Pipes will provide easy access to NewsMastering and other capabilities to practically everyone. It hasn't been that difficult before, but with the success Yahoo! Pipes is likely to achieve, these capabilities will now be in the hands of many many more people.

On one side this means that if you were counting on NewsMastering to enrich your visitor experience, the power of this approach will be greatly reduced since so many other companies and even end-users will be able to provide the same or do the same for themselves. It means losing your unique position. It also means that influencers that would otherwise perhaps come to your website for their daily dose of latest content will now be able to create the same functionalities by themselves.

But it also creates an even easier way for abusers to abuse your content. It's now even easier to steal your content and display it on a different website for various purposes.

Am I overexaturating?

Certainly, the possibilities are here, but it remains to be seen how much penetration this service will achieve and who is going to use it.

Additional News, Comments and Resources

Yahoo! Pipes really is the most talked about online subject right now.

Here are some additional selections to get more information and different views:

TechMeme - Access all the latest conversations and blog posts about Yahoo! Pipes
O'Reilly Radar - An extended discussion on how Yahoo! Pipes is the most revolutionary internet development as of late
ZDNet Photo Galleries - Yahoo! Pipes screenshots
flashpoint - Good examples of possible Yahoo! Pipes applications
Anil Dash - An excellent look at Yahoo! Pipes
Niall Kennedy - Yahoo! Pipes threats for publishers, and more

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