LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - NBC Universal has made a
minor acquisition that will play a part in a major shift for
its business down the road.
Last week, the media giant quietly scooped up Rmail, a
two-year-old firm that specializes in converting RSS feeds to
e-mail. Sources peg the cost of the acquisition, which NBC
Universal declined to announce, at a mere $150,000. The service
has only 50,000 users.
But NBC Universal chief digital officer George Kliavkoff
believes Rmail is a key piece to the company's digital
"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," he said.
Rmail essentially functions as an RSS intermediary,
aggregating feeds so that they are easily transferable if the
subscriber changes e-mail addresses. While that might seem a
relatively niche functionality to interest a mass-media
company, Kliavkoff notes that Rmail provides insights into
harnessing data on consumer behavior.
"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 and start
learning about RSS," he said.
With Rmail, NBC Universal examines consumers' RSS feeds and
uses that information to target individual subscribers with
relevant programming or advertising messages. Applied
correctly, the technology helps NBC Universal reorient itself
toward a more responsive, individualized approach to consumers.
NBC Universal already has plenty of its content offerings
available via RSS, including the online arms of MSNBC and NBC
Sports as well as digital-only properties iVillage and
"We have tons of it, but as a company we've never paid
attention as to how we can improve the technology," Kliavkoff
The acquisition of Rmail was not made through NBC
Universal's recently announced partnership with GE Capital to
invest in media and technology companies.