Feeding the search results

Share this content:

This weekend I found myself helping a dozen or so relatives from across the country book trips to Rio de Janeiro. Confident in my search savvy, I whittled the fares and rates down and sent the information along. I was about to get on with my next task when the phone rang.

"Uh, those fares you sent me don't work," a relative said. "Hmm, let me see," I said, thinking, "Oh, you poor Luddite. How can you not figure out a basic travel site?" I ran through the exercise on the phone, and voil à -- there was the fare I found.

Until I clicked. And she clicked. While the results displayed a fabulous fare, clicking through to the end site revealed major sticker shock. "False advertising!" she cried. Then, it occurred to me: sometimes the search result is only as good as the feed providing the result.

Ah yes, the feed. To some, it is a simple concept. To others, it is a mysterious, intangible thing that never seems to have the same definition.

So what exactly is a feed, you ask?

Here's my try: A feed simply is a technological means of distributing content. This is not a new concept; content creators have made distribution their primary effort from day one. Take the early days of news distribution. Once there was a time when the latest telegraph technology suddenly meant that news could be sent within minutes to a destination. Unfortunately, not so many people had access to a telegraph. Eventually, collaborative wire services came into vogue, and news was distributed across more channels.

Decades later, the first customized homepages, such as MyYahoo, allowed users to select which news sources would display content on their page. This was the beginning of the feed as we know it today. In fact, Ramanathan Guha is credited with creating one of the earliest versions of RSS for the My Netscape portal.

Back then, major deals had to be struck before content could be syndicated, but the technology was roughly the same. Today, RSS feeds allow anyone to create or receive a feed from just about any source. From content to products to even advertisements, a stream of information can be syndicated or subscribed to.

Most direct marketers know that Yahoo offers feeds, known as Search Submit, and that shopping feeds in general are critical to online sales. (Make that having fresh feeds. In my case above, the feed of flight fares clearly went stale.) So critical that the Association for Retail Technical Standards, which is a part of the National Retail Federation, introduced a standard feed format last year.

But feeds don't stop at simply providing news or offering up products. Today's RSS ad networks have a whole new world order in mind. Pheedo, for example, encourages users to interact with ads using social media widgets they call "engagement triggers." FeedBurner, on the other hand, focuses on gleaning insight from stats on the feed audience.

Curious to learn more? I leave you with short, explanatory videos from each firm:

Feedburner and Pheedo.


Next Article in Digital Marketing

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

Since 1985, Melissa has helped thousands of companies clean, correct and complete contact data to better target and communicate with their customers. We offer a full spectrum of data quality solutions, including global address, phone, email, and name validation, identify verification - available for batch or real-time processes, in the Cloud or on-premise. Our service bureau provides dedupe, email/phone append and geographic/demographic append services for better targeting and insight. For direct mailers, Melissa offers easy-to-use address management/postal software, list hygiene services and 100s of specialty mailing lists - all with competitive pricing and excellent customer service.

Find out more here »

Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here

Relive the 2017 Marketing Hall of Femme

Click the image above