Yahoo Pipes is a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web. Frankly, it has been around for a couple of years now and while it’s advanced a bit, I don’t think it has ever really caught on in a big way. The interface is a little funky and takes some getting use to, but once you do, it’s a pretty cool tool.

Pipes can do some very complex things, but what I think it does better than most other options is allow you to aggregate, sort and filter many RSS feeds into one. So, you might be asking at this moment, why would I want to do that.

I can think of number of reasons pretty quickly:

  • Monitor mentions of your brand across multiple sources
  • Monitor mentions of your competitors
  • Monitor specific topics of discussion across the web
  • Aggregate the columns of key journalists you want to influence
  • String the blogs of your strategic partners into one feed


The image above is an example of output from a Yahoo Pipe for Duct Tape Marketing

I put together a quick sample pipe that includes mentions of Duct Tape Marketing and John Jantsch with duplicate content filtered from RSS feeds including:

  • Yahoo News
  • Google News
  • Techorati
  • Bloglines
  • Google Blog Search
  • Twitter
  • Backtype
  • Boardtracker


The image above is the source code of modules used in this pipe example

In the social media world we live in monitoring across platforms that track social media sites, bulletin boards, blogs, blog comments, PR newswires and web sites has become important and more complex. A simple monitoring mashup from Yahoo Pipes may provide a good DIY fix.

Pipes also comes with some tools that allow you to easily create widgets and badges to place on web and blog pages.

If you want to dig a lot deeper into the use of Yahoo Pipes, I suggest checking out Dawn Foster of Fast Wonder Consulting. Her blog is filled with down to earth tutorials on how to use Pipes for many things – here’s a recent tutorial on using CSV files to run keyword searches.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Thanks for the suggestion, will check it out.

  • I find Pipes very useful. I'm still wondering the advantage of running through Pipes rather than collecting data into Google Reader. What are your thoughts on this? Perhaps I'm overlooking a feature.

    • Courtney, I guess the biggest difference is the ability to sort and filter a bunch of feeds into one, something that Google Reader doesn't do – For example Google News and Yahoo News pick up almost identical stuff with an acception or two a day. By joining them I get the stuff I want without having to comb through two feeds.

      That's a simple example, you can put 100 feeds together and filter by a word or phrase and get a feed of blog posts only when the trigger phrase is mentioned – I can think of lots of reasons that might be helpful – I could see creating these mashups with the specific criteria for each client you are working with and have hundreds of industry blogs fed into client by client feeds – that would be a very cool customer service tool don't you think?

    • Courtney, there's an even better reason from an enterprise standpoint:

      Let's say you want a dozen people in your organization to get “The Feed” of the important industry headlines. You could set them up with Reader accounts, but what if you discovered a new publication or a new keyword emerged that deserved tracking?

      Either everyone has to maintain his/her own OPML, or you lose information. If you've got everyone subscribed to the Big Pipe, you can tinker with the innards and they'll be updated, none the wiser. (Actually, MUCH wiser because they are spending their time digesting content, and not learning how to be search Ninjas.)

      One more example — you're tracking Twitter accounts via RSS for influencers and competitors. Three new competitors start Twitter accounts. Do you want to explain to everyone how to add the three new feeds?

      Pipes is one of THE most useful Web 2.0 services I use, because it works with everything.

      • Thanks Ike, I agree – the reality of personalized RSS is available.

      • Ah… well the filtering out duplicates aspect for clients is good… as is updating what they read without resetting things for them.

  • I like pipes! I wish I knew how to use it more extensively! I have spent quite a bit of time on it and use it for multiple applications.

  • Nice, also similar to Microsoft Popfly.
    Mashup originally referred to the practice in pop music (notably hip-hop) of producing a new song by mixing two or more existing pieces.

  • Thanks for the info. Definitely going to check it out. I've been using, but it looks like Pipes has a lot more functionality.

  • Yahoo Pipes rocks! We have used it to monitor whats going on in our industry to connect with clients and competitors.

  • Interesting post. I will definitely have to look into Pipes. Thanks.

  • Interesting post. I will definitely have to look into Pipes. Thanks.