NBC Universal has semi-quietly acquired RMail, a service which converts RSS feeds into email messages for users. The idea is that instead of subscribing to an RSS feed via a aggregator application, Web-based service, or a Web browser, you subscribe to a feed (say, your favorite blog) and receive updated content via email as its published. Rmail currently has about 50,000 users, for whom it manages about 100,000 RSS subscriptions. Neither RMail nor NBC have revealed the terms of the acquisition, but sources within NBC have separately indicated the buy was in the $150,000 range.
Why would NBC be interested in buying a service which converts RSS feeds to email…and why would NBC executives be describing the acquisition as a key strategic move? “Rmail is the first brick in building a pyramid that will provide a technology base that will make us better at engaging and targeting audiences,” George Kliavkoff, NBCU’s chief digital officer, told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a way for us to start learning about how to pay attention to what customers are doing and make predictive understandings of what they might be interested in.”
The idea is that the information someone chooses to receive via RSS can say a lot about that person, and that information is useful to both NBC in trying to determine what NBC content that person might fins appealing, but also of interest to advertisers looking to put their messages in front of Internet users who meet certain characteristics. The result could be a series of content offeres which offer NBC readers and users personalized, ever-updating content, and which also offers personally-tailored advertising and promotion.
The RMail acquisition is the latest in a series of deals NBC has made to beef up its online content delivery; recently, the company has inked a distribution deal with Comcast, and announced plans with News Corp. to launch its own online video portal.