RSS ads worth the price?
Wired reported yesterday that Advertisers Muscle into RSS. That RSS would catch the eye of advertising folk is unsurprising; nor is it unsurprising that some bloggers might want to create a revenue stream for themselves.
In the article, Jason Fried of the Signal v. Noise is quoted as saying:
"All RSS is is just another content-delivery medium," he said. "Someone has to pay for that content, either through subscription fees or through advertising. I don't know why (RSS) should be sacred or any different than a website."
I visited Signal v. Noise to see how Jason's subscribers feel about the move. As of this writing, 114 comments had been attached to Jason's terse post that SvN would start running ads "every third post".
As you would imagine, the posts range from the vehemently opposed to the mildly cautious. Many of the posts are Jason defending his move:
"Bottom line: People put a lot of time into their blogs and I don't see a problem with them being compensated for their time."
It's Jason's blog, so he can do what he wants. But I wonder at the wisdom of running ads in an RSS feed, unless you are utterly sure that your blog is such required reading that subscribers would rather compensate you than unsubscribe. Several of Jason's subscribers seem to believe that Jason's content is worth little -- they're unsubscribing.
Moreover, it would seem evident that the place for ads is on the blog site -- not the feed. If the feed summary is interesting enough, the site will be visited.
What is certain is that inserting ads will not increase readership.
Another problem, a psychological one perhaps, is that many (most?) of us read our feeds through desktop aggregators. They render RSS into the familiar email format -- but that means that RSS ads are rendered in the familiar spam format. Very, very poor tactics that a savvy ad agency could have warned Jason about.
(It doesn't help that many of the ads are for 2nd mortgages -- sound familiar?)
I hope that Desirable Roasted Coffee content is so compelling that none of you would be put off if I started running RSS ads. But until there's a half million or so of you, I won't be bothering to ask you for compensation.
Update: Shel Holtz reports on software that will strip out the ads. God, I love technology.