Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, May 9, 2005

RSS Ads: Should We Push Unrequested Advertisements Into RSS Pull?

The latest RSS wave to hit the news is the final arrival of tangible RSS advertising options like the ones offered by Overture, Kanoodle, Google AdSense (who is just beta testing the solution with a selected number of publishers), Pheedo, RSSAds and soon many others.

Photo credit: Jim De Lillo

It is in fact way too easy to jump on the RSS advertising train, without spending much thought about the pros and cons of this choice.

I myself, have decided to ponder and step back on this one, at least for now. From my personal viewpoint, ads inside RSS feeds are a contradiction in terms, and therefore not the most effective or intelligent use of that medium true potential and key characteristics.

More than this, by betraying RSS natural "pull" character with some unrequested "push" components (ads), the user who feels taken advantage of can and who is aware and seeking, can and will make a selection.



"The internet has been flooded for the past few days with news and debates concerning advertising in RSS feeds, especially in consequence to Google testing AdSense ads in RSS feeds.


RSS is a content delivery channel, and us marketers have the tendency to use every such channel to do what we are doing: market.


End-users want free content, which can, on the long-term, only be provided if there is some compensation involved for the publisher. RSS advertising makes this possible, helping publishers generate additional revenues and thus also provide better and more high-quality and high-frequency content."

On the other hand, Dave Winer, by many considered the father of RSS, has been very vocal about the negative side of RSS advertising, and has been asking publishers to reconsider such approach. He writes:

"Advertising in RSS is just starting now, for all practical purposes. If we wanted to, as an industry, reject the idea, we could, by asking the people who create the software to add a feature that strips out all ads. Make it default to on. Then, that would force the advertisers, if they want to speak to us, to do so respectfully, by our choice.

Create feeds of commercial information that we might be interested in, and if we are, we'll subscribe. If not, we won't."

But Rok points intelligently to ClickZ own article on RSS advertising as it presents a good case of why RSS advertising may not be in the DNA of RSS.

"From a marketing strategy standpoint, RSS's ascendancy is just another indication the world always seems to find a way to route around advertising whenever it has a chance.

Consumers crave control over their media and are flocking to technologies that provide that control.

RSS advertising is probably an excellent idea. But we can't forget if we abuse the channel into consumers' browsers, they can do what they've always done with TV: switch the channel.

When considering new ways to reach consumers, we can't ignore the fact that while we weren't looking, they seized control."

Where does the truth stand?

Here is my take on it: continue reading...

Readers' Comments    
2005-05-09 12:53:43

John Evans

I think Rok's got a point about DNA. Maybe there needs to be a middle way. Say, a line of text : "May we offer you some relevant purchase opportunities which have been carefully selected for this feed?" Followed by a link : "Your Choice."

The customer might just be pleased with the consideration demonstrated, and the democratic "voting" option.

posted by Robin Good on Monday, May 9 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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