Branded RSS aggregators are seeing a lot of press this week, in part due to NewsGator's latest release and I'm also hoping that in part because companies are finally starting to see the full power of RSS.
Are we finally reaching the tipping point?
And then just today I received a call from the people at CustomReader, who have developed and launched what seems to be an RSS aggregator, which companies can customize for their brand and then share with their visitors.
"Custom Reader is your very own personalized tool that you can offer your subscribers to create user loyalty and is useful to your readers as they can stay up to date with any type of information on the Web; news, blogs, weather, search results, sports results, auctions and more.
Custom Reader is a fully customizable application. You control the look and feel of the reader to suit the needs of your business. When you change the reader changes with you.
You're in charge, decide which information you want to deliver to the reader.
Change the appearence of the reader, add your own logo, icons skins and much more."
I'm still searching for instructions on how to customize my own version, but this does look promising.
Benefiting From Your Own Branded Aggregator
To help you see how you can benefit from your own branded aggregator and give you some ideas on how far you can actually take your own aggregator, here's a short excerpt from "Unleash the Marketing & Publishing Power of RSS":
A branded RSS aggregator should go further than a "lean & standard" aggregator and integrate the functionalities needed for the company to better promote its brand, its products, its RSS feeds and also keep a mutually profitable relationship with the customer.
This could mean adding the following functionality to the software, in addition to basic RSS consumption capabilities:
a) A visually branded software interface
b) Pre-installed company RSS feeds, presumably spotlighted in the reading list; personalized if possible (the last would have to be done in connection with the company's RSS publishing system that would automatically provide a personalized feed for each identified RSS aggregator user and automatically provide him with content relevant to his needs through the company feeds, for instance product support content updates)
c) An RSS feed customization module, if the company offers RSS feed customization
d) Ad serving module, capable of serving targeted company ads to users through the aggregator, based on their browsing/content consumption habits
e) Notification module, capable of serving special notifications from the company (this could be implemented as an RSS feed, but with an additional notification message posted on the screen when new content items appear; could also be used for every new content item from the company), to facilitate prospect/customer/partner communications
f) Communications module, basically a form that the user can use to send messages to the company, and even receive feedback; could even include a customer support system
g) Web store module that would allow the user to browse the company's product line through the actual aggregator and even conduct orders
h) Direct access to product information, such as product manuals, FAQs, product forums etc.
i) An option for the user to customize his aggregator with his own affiliate links (for the company's products, or even his own) and then re-distribute it to his own visitors
j) Direct access to other information; a publishing company could perhaps give its users the opportunity to read its book excerpts directly from the aggregator
l) Integrated forum, to enable the user to communicate with our company customers/partners and perhaps even discuss possible business cooperation with them
The marketing opportunities of what you can do with your own software are really quite endless.