Bob Tedeschi’s New York Times "e-commerce report" column (reg. req’d) yesterday highlighted the personalized shopping potential of RSS. We first wrote about the mainstream importance and potential of RSS and alerts as a shopping tool last year:
Paid search has been enormously successful. Yet click rates are at an industry average of just 2.6 percent, in part, because of the challenge of serving truly relevant ads against search queries. But what if there were a way for consumers to indicate very specific requirements to search engines or Web publishers and receive exact results directly in their e-mail inboxes or RSS readers? The clickthroughs and corresponding purchases would likely be many times today's paid search response rates.
A system of alerts would boost the value publishers and search engines can deliver to advertisers by providing greater targeting and distribution. This "alerts" functionality exists today but is not widely used for commercial purposes. Though there are prominent exceptions, technical challenges and a lack of consumer awareness have so far prevented the widespread use of alerts as a commercial or shopping tool. It's just a matter of time, however, before alerts functionality is built out on all the shopping engines and later on a broader array of sites, including classifieds.