BetaKit covered UK-based RSS monetization tool Mediafed in September 2012 when it acquired social news reader Taptu, and at the time Mediafed CEO Ashley Harrison said through the acquisition they hoped to find a way to monetize where other newsreaders haven’t. Today they’re realizing that goal, announcing the launch of Qrius, a new spin on RSS that lets readers add online publications to their social and mobile newsreaders with the click of a button.
Similar to how readers can add an RSS feed to their Google Reader or other RSS readers by clicking the orange RSS symbol on a publication’s website, the Qrius button will appear at the end of articles, allowing readers to click it to add a publisher to their social newsreader, rather than adding a publisher’s feed to their social newsreader while they’re in that app. To add a publisher’s feed to Qrius, users click the icon, then sign in using Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. They can then send the content to their Taptu reader, and conceivably other readers as they make their API available to them (other players include Flipboard, Trapit, Pulse, and News360).
“Qrius is a contemporary spin on RSS,” Harrison said. “We set out to devise a button that you could click which will enable you to consume content, i.e. subscribe to a feed…so literally one click and off that feed goes into the newsreader of your choice.”
As part of today’s product launch, Mediafed is also announcing launch partners including Reuters China, India Today, and IDG UK. As we outlined in the earlier article, Mediafed works with over 2,000 publishers to promote and track their RSS feeds, and they work with over 1,200 advertisers and brands to place ads in publishers’ RSS feeds, with a 50/50 revenue share between publishers and Mediafed. Qrius will operate on the same revenue sharing advertising model, and Harrison said that out of the 50 existing publisher partners they’ve approached to use the tool, all of them said yes.
While Harrison said that only 5-10 percent of a site’s visitors use RSS, the number of readers who use social newsreaders is likely only just starting to grow to a sizable chunk, and at launch no one who sees the Qrius logo on an online publication will know what it is and what it can be used for. Harrison said that it’s no doubt a sizeable project, and that’s why they need to partner with other newsreaders, since the more publications and social newsreader companies that are promoting it, the more likely it is to enter into the mainstream like RSS did years ago.
“We’re trying to introduce the notion of newsreaders across mobile devices, tablets, etc., but integrating that into a contemporary view of RSS,” he said. “Which is why obviously if we are going to make a success of it we need to open it up to other newsreaders.”
In terms of growing the tool, Mediafed will be reaching out to the rest of their publisher partners to adopt it, and then will be moving on to other online publishers. Just like RSS was adopted by major publications as well as individual bloggers, the Qrius promotion strategy will likely extend to niche bloggers and anyone with a Tumblr or WordPress account. The Mediafed team thinks RSS isn’t dead, it just needs to be adapted for a new generation of readers. Whether they can make Qrius as ubiquitous as the orange RSS button, a lofty goal to be sure, remains to be seen.