ads in RSS

pb explains why he won’t read RSS feeds with ads and though I won’t unsubscribe from feeds with ads, I am annoyed with them for many reasons that pb states, but there’s one other big aspect of it.

Ads in RSS are fundamentally misguided, at least all the examples I’ve seen. They’re either a site-wide sponsor or a completely unrelated product, but the thing that is broken about them is that they don’t offer anything to the reader.

I’m convinced that things like Google’s adsense ads work because they’re tied so well to the content of what someone is saying, and the best place for them to appear is in archived posts. When random folks do a search and find your post about a subject while they are researching the subject, ads that are closely related often help out the research. I’ve found myself searching for a gadget, ending up on a blog, and following an ad for a sale price on said gadget. This is one of the few times where advertising that is so targeted can be actually helpful.

Ads in RSS are mostly in the way. They don’t key off the text very well, and I don’t really use RSS for research purposes. I haven’t seen a RSS ad yet for anything I would want to learn more about. I do click on many interesting random blogads if they’re for something amusing (like a funny t-shirt) or compelling (like a new PBS program or issue-oriented site), so I guess maybe the good advertisers just haven’t caught on to RSS yet.

There is something sinister deep down about stuffing ads into content that is purposely stripped of cruft. But I’m also aware that RSS feed reading is hitting the mainstream and many readers are no longer using browsers. I just don’t think the majority of money in advertising is with your current daily reader base, but in your archives.

It’s still pretty early in the RSS ads development. If folks can figure out ways to do site-specific classified-type advertising or figure out how to marry truly targetted ads, maybe it could work but for now they’re obnoxious and in the way.