Last week I started my review of a JupiterResearch report entitled RSS Readers: Addressing Market Opportunities with an Innovative News Medium. I covered the first couple of pages of the report, in which JupiterResearch asked: What Is RSS and Where Is It Used? I was interested to see what Michael Gartenberg from JupiterResearch, the Lead Analyst on this report, would say in response to my initial post. Apart from calling me Roger throughout ("Roger was a little perturbed..."), he did address my concern about whether the report was dismissive about weblogs:
"Nothing could be further than the truth and I think our commitment to the serious nature of weblogs in business is pretty well documented. No one blogging in their pajamas here at the office :) We do note the RSS phenomenon came directly as a result of the weblog phenomena but it's gone beyond that."
Fair enough. And yes Michael did quickly fix up the "Roger" faux pas :-)
So to the next part of the report. Page 3 had a chart and some analysis with the heading 'Market for RSS Newsreaders Equal in the Home and Business'. The question asked of respondents was: "Which of the following applications installed on your primary home or work computer do you use monthly or more frequently?". The options given were: Search toolbar, desktop search app, RSS newsreader app, RSS newsreader service, and "None".
Both types of RSS newsreaders had the same figures - 5% of respondents used them at work and 6% at home. I found it interesting that the same percentage of respondents used desktop RSS newsreaders and web-based newsreaders - this is worth tracking in the coming months and years. Will one of desktop or web-based start to pull ahead? My money's on web-based, but valid arguments can be made either way.
Back to the report... the use of RSS newsreaders paled into comparison with the search toolbar (62% home, 27% work). So all in all, RSS newsreaders in both desktop and web variety are still very much a minority tool - 12% of consumers use a variety of RSS newsreader, according to this report. But JupiterResearch notes:
"While the overall number of consumers who use RSS readers is small, this market is growing due to a wide variety of choice in terms of content and sources, along with the increased awareness of the weblog phenomenon by mainstream consumers."
While this rings true, I couldn't see any evidence to back it up. How do they know the market is growing and that there is "increased awareness"?
Turning now to page 4, where the report analyzes the demographic profile of RSS users. Here the demographics of RSS Users is compared to those of Online users. We find out that the female to male ratio is higher for RSS Users - 55% are female, 45% are male. It's 51% female, 50% male for Online users (I presume the extra 1% is due to rounding). So that is a surprise, especially given all the recent talk about the lack of attention for female bloggers.
For the age demographics, more 18-24 year olds use RSS (23% compared to a 14% representation online). But 35+ is still the number 1 age group both with RSS users and online (56% are RSS users, compared to 64% online). 25-34 years are 22% in both RSS and online averages. JupiterResearch notes that:
"Unlike many Internet technologies, such as IM, RSS appeals to both the young and old. Forty-five percent of RSS users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Given the widespread popularity of RSS, readers of all age groups should be targeted to use RSS feeds and readers."
I take this to mean that no specific age group can be targeted at the expense of the others. But the question remains: does each age group have different uses for RSS newsreaders? For example, it's well known that LiveJournal is extremely popular amongst young people and it's mainly used as a social tool. Whereas older people (and I include myself in this, even though I fit in the middle demographic right now) are more likely to use RSS newsreaders to keep up with news and business. The JupiterResearch report doesn't address any of those issues, but I suspect marketers would want to find out about it.
Page 4 also refers to income and Net experience, and broadband vs dial-up. RSS users are slightly richer and more have broadband (41% have broadband, compared to 33% online avg). Somewhat surprising is the Net experience figures, which show that more "newbies" and "intermediates" use RSS than the online average (25% for RSS users, compared to 17% online average).
JupiterResearch finishes page 4 with this comment:
"To drive growth, vendors must communicate the benefits of RSS to newer users, explaining the technology and the process of setting up and subscribing to RSS feeds."
That's followed by advice to ditch the orange 'XML' button - which every RSS techie knows we have to do... we just don't know what to replace it with, apart from multiple vendor buttons.
I'll leave the report summary and recommendations for my final post in this series, which I hope to have done by end of this week. In the meantime, feel free to comment below on what you think it all means.