Ads In RSS Feeds

posted on 2005-05-18 at 08:40:45 by Joel Ross

With Google announcing the public availability (sort of) of a beta of Google Adsense for Feeds, it's time to revisit advertising on blogs. I've seen quite a few discussions about advertisements in RSS feeds lately, and I'm wondering something. Does an ad in a feed really turn people off that much?

I'm not stopping my subscription to Engadget, and I know the default argument. Engadget provides good content. But I could do without Longhornblogs. It's got good content, but it's not an "I can’t live without it" blog for me. But I'm also not going to unsubscribe just because they put an ad at the end of the feed.

So, if my feed had ads at the bottom, would you unsubscribe? If your feed had an ad in it, I wouldn't. I don't see a problem with someone getting paid for blogging, and since I'm not going to pay for them to blog, why not let advertisers? If the ads are relevant, then it may actually be beneficial for me.

Now, the next question becomes one of effectiveness. Based on who your users are, it appears that web users are more likely to click through than RSS users. Why? RSS users are coming to the site for your content (well, polling your site for your content). They aren't there looking for something in particular. Just your writing. They aren't in a buying mood.

On the other hand, users who reach your site through the web most likely come through a search engine, and are looking for a particular piece of information. If they find it at your site, and your ads are targeted to that content, the click through is more likely.

The moral of the story? Use context ads on the site, but for your feeds, use content that generally relates to your site.

Lastly, who should use ads in RSS? Should companies use it? Individuals? I don't know the answer. My feeling right now is that companies shouldn't use it, but individuals can if they want to. Why do I feel that way? Companies are putting out blogs for the most part as a PR tool, even if only indirectly. By having your employees get your company recognition on the web, you're getting free advertising for your company. Generating traffic to your corporate site is the goal. Individuals, though, typically aren't selling something, so getting traffic to your site isn't going to generate revenue through sales, so ads in RSS may make sense.

One last thing. Only put ads in your feed if it's full text. If it's not a full text feed, then your feed is an advertisement!

I'm still not sure if I will add them. It's not really about the money. It's more about trying things, and seeing what works. So, if I add an ad to my feed, will you unsubscribe? Why?


Categories: Blogging