RSS Ads Done Incorrectly Annoy Readers


Where's there's smoke, there's fire goes the old saying which might be appropo to this Flickr user's complaint regarding the proliferation of ads in RSS feeds. adammathes writes, "I have no problem with advertising, but this is just ridiculous. A one-to-one ratio of ads and content in an RSS feed? Do they even bother to show this sort of thing to actual users before doing it?"

One might argue it's simply the fairly standard 50/50 ad/edit ratio but in reality, it just makes for a crowded reading experience. While this feed from the Washington Post appears to have an ad in every other RSS item, some publisher place one in every item. While we can't state categorically that Adrants will never have ads in its RSS feed, we can say, for sure, the ratio will be far more acceptable along the lines of one ad per ten items or so.

Our viewpoint is that ads in RSS feeds that contain the entire article, readable without having to link back to the originating website, is a better method of RSS advertising than ads placed within abbreviated RSS feeds which require the reader to link back to the originating site to read the entire article. The first method hits up the reader with one ad. The second slaps them in the face with two assuming the originating site serves ads as well. While we're spouting viewpoints, individual items within an RSS feed that are standalone ads (not part of a content/article item) are annoying and pointless. Either the preceding "ADV" or the headlines themselves scream "I'm ad ad! Ignore me!" Ads that are part of a feed item are far more acceptable and more likely to be seen and acted upon. OK. We're off the soapbox now. Carry on.

by Steve Hall    Jul-20-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: RSS   

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Then why don't you offer exactly that option - RSS feeds with FULL articles along with ads? I'm constantly annoyed at how many publishers, including yourself, continue to offer only the first X words of an article in their feeds, requiring me to launch a browser to read every story. Adfreak does this too.

Full marks to Adrants - they provide full articles within RSS.

Posted by: Steve Coulson on July 20, 2005 11:38 AM

Whoops, i meant to say "full marks to Ad-Land at" on that one.

Posted by: Steve Coulson on July 20, 2005 11:39 AM

heh...yea, I caught that Steve. She gets revenue from subscriptions to her ad database though instead of advertising. But, yes, I may offer ad supported full rss feeds in the future.

Posted by: Steve Hall on July 20, 2005 11:51 AM

They (whoever they are) should make the RSS ads less intrusive-looking. One line, one color, five words max, an "AD:" prefix, no borders. That at least will improve the ad/edit ratio of lines of text. Oh, and context targeting is still pretty imprecise.

Posted by: ilya on July 20, 2005 12:09 PM

Why say "this Flickr user" as if one has anything to do with the other? Flickr don't serve no ads in its RSS ;)

Posted by: Stewart [TypeKey Profile Page] on July 20, 2005 1:18 PM

Um, hello? Read the article again. It's called attribution. It is the Flickr user who, on his Flickr page made reference to ads appearing in feeds (Bloglines). It has nothing to do with whether or not Flickr serves ads in it's feeds.

Posted by: Steve Hall on July 20, 2005 1:32 PM

Another wonderful concept: changing the RSS ad format mid-stream.

This causes readers like Bloglines to see in-line RSS ad changes as completely new posts, so weeks (or potentially months) worth of old posts are suddenly refed into the RSS reader with the new ad style.

And then the publisher gets complaints about the RSS ads, or decides to change them again, and the old posts are posted again, and again, and again...

No need to name names, but one blog that succumbed to this ended in "...Hunting."

Posted by: Jonathan Cohen on July 20, 2005 7:09 PM