As the RSS space continues to heat up, California firm MessageCast is beta testing a version of its multi-channel message delivery service that uses RSS technology, but lets consumers continue to receive messages through familiar channels.
RSS (define) has long appealed to marketers for many reasons, including its ability to deliver messages to users while bypassing the problem of spam. However, its adoption has been hampered by many technical challenges, including the need for users to install software to read RSS feeds. This is a challenge for users who are not technically inclined.
"We're the first mechanism that lets consumers get RSS information without having an aggregator," said Royal Farros, Chairman and CEO of MessageCast, the Redwood City, Calif. firm that makes message delivery software LiveMessage. "Consumers can get information that is dispensed via RSS on their desktops, or on their cell phones, or via email."
The company's core product, LiveMessage, uses public instant messaging systems such as MSN Messenger to conduct messages. The instant messaging systems act as a conduit for messages that are delivered to users' desktops via the IM window, cell phones via short message service (SMS) and email inboxes via email. The user dictates which of these the message is delivered to.
LiveMessage was released earlier this year. The RSS-integrated version, Live Message Syndication Edition, will be available by the end of this quarter, Farros said. The company is also testing LiveMessage Blogger Edition, according to Farros.
With LiveMessage, "for example, if Barry Bonds is appearing in public and the San Francisco Giants want to tell users who have opted in to such events, LiveMessage can send the announcement to users via whichever medium they have specified," Farros said.
The baseball team is not a LiveMessage client, but MessageCast's customers include Buy.com, Microsoft and Loreal UK.
The Live Message Syndication product capitalizes on the strengths of RSS, according to Farros.
"With our system, LiveMessage checks on various RSS feeds to see if they have updated or not. If they have updated, it grabs that new information and delivers it the way the customer wants it," Farros said.
Because the software takes advantage of the instant updating capacity of RSS, companies can get event-based triggering "without having to do a bunch of database work," Farros said. "In the past, it could take months to build data triggers into a database. Now it only takes minutes. We tap into RSS feeds and they become a sophisticated data trigger."
LiveMessage is valuable because it is opt-in and authenticated, according to Charlene Li, principal analyst for Forrester Research.
"I get email alerts from Talbot's or the Gap for the sales they may be doing, and I may want that alert sent to me the instant it's available," said Li. "With LiveMessage, I can ask for the alert to be sent to my desktop so I know right away.
"I may say I want it in my email, and they can make sure it goes around the spam filters. These people work with MSN Hotmail. Because it's a clear person who's identified with a Passport login, they authenticate it and say, okay, you're whitelisted. It's the creation of a whitelist. That's very valuable to marketers. And valuable to users, too, because they get messages they want to receive," Li said.
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