Allen Stern claims that RSS is broken because it doesn’t deliver customers to him on a plate. Of course, he then explains that RSS was never designed to rat out it’s subscribers to marketers. Gee, people can anonymously subscribe to my feed. If you think about it, I do know that the subscriber is the kind of person who would subscribe to my particular feed. So that tells me something. Although it doesn’t tell me when they’ve lost interest, or if they intended to unsubscribe, but were too lazy to do so.
But the idea that marketers have any claim on the kind of data that Stern is asking for shows a real lack of understanding. Perhaps Mr. Stern needs to have a long conversation with Doc Searls about Vendor Relationship Management. Yes, traditionally marketers put potential customers into their sights using the kind of stats Stern wants RSS to collect. But the equation isn’t the same on the internet, it isn’t a “one to many” broadcast medium. It’s “many to many” where there’s a democratization of the participants in the network. People are starting to understand that their interest in, and even their raw attention toward a product has a value. And deciding to expose any data to a potential vendor is a customer choice, not a marketers right.