Permanent link to archive for 11/18/04. Thursday, November 18, 2004

Why advertising in RSS is boring

Advertising in RSS is boring. Sorry. There's nothing innovative about it. You can analyze it in five minutes or less. Here's how it works.

Either your feed has full content or not.

Suppose it has full content. (Example, Engadget.)

Okay, so they pay the guy who writes Engadget lots of money, so they have to make money from everyone who reads the content, whether they read it in RSS or HTML. Since it appeals to gadget freaks, exactly the kind of people who like RSS, they probably have a high percentage of RSS readers. So they put an ad for Bose at the end of every post. My aggregator mangles it, but it's a minor distraction compared to the other crap I have to put up with in my spyware-infected laptop, so what the hell, I stay subscribed. But every time I see that mangled ad for Bose I think of Jason Calcanis and what a smarmy dude he is. It makes me think less of Bose. So maybe Jason will read this and come up with a feed for influencers like me who subscribe to his feed in aggregators that don't deal with his ads very well. One can hope.

Okay, now consider the other case, your feed only has summaries of your article (Example: NY Times). To read the full article you have to click on a link and (listen very carefully now) see an ad as you read the article. In other words, the RSS feed is itself an ad, pulling you in to read a page with a big ad on it. You want to put an ad on the ad? Okay, but it's getting pretty thick. I might start feeling used and not like it, and unsub. In other words, think carefully about how much advertising you think your readers can endure.

Anyway, I don't think there really is anything else to say except maybe you could try to make your ads interesting so I don't feel like I'm being programmed. Today we're still in early-adopter stage of RSS, so the people you influence now are probably going to help (or not help) you get liftoff in this space as it grows. Treat them well if you want to do well? Maybe that's a good approach.

# Posted by Dave Winer on 11/18/04; 9:36:24 AM - --

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