Ads in RSS?

I have seen some differing opinions about ads in RSS feeds lately.

In an interview on JenSense, Jason Calacanis said this:

How successful have the AdSense for Feeds ads in your RSS been? Have you had a problem with readers not wanting ads in their feeds from you?

Like three folks were upset about RSS ads. Now, we have millions of people coming to our sites every month so we’re not going to stop the revenue for three freaks who want free content without advertising (don’t we all want that?!?!).

If you did a survey and asked people watching Desperate Housewives if they would consider paying to have it without commercials people would say yes. You could ask the same group if they would like to save money by watching the Sopranos for free with ads in it and they would say they would consider it!

Ads in RSS are no big deal. They are just like banners or text links on a web page. If you produce great content people will deal with the ads, and if you produce really great content a certain percentage of those folks will pay for the content (if you want to go that route). So, it’s important that when you’re running a business you ignore the freaks and listen to the real fans. Real fans of the site understand you need to make money in order to produce free content, and those real fans even visit the advertisers and buy their products knowing that it will support the product they love.

Dave Winer, on the other hand, expressed the totally opposite viewpoint:

Taegan Goddard asked me to say when I re-subb’d to the Political Wire feed after he removed the ads, so it only seems fair to say that I unsubbed today, and that’s the last time you’ll hear about it here. He brought the ads back, without notice, without permission of the readers. It’s pulling my attention into his stuff, and dammit that’s my aggregator not his, and not FeedBurner’s and not his advertiser’s (who I won’t name here). I think advertising is so over, and it really pains me to see a visionary like Goddard go this way.

So that leads me to the question: Should I put AdSense for RSS ads in my AdMoolah RSS feeds?

I think I’m with Jason on this one. The feeds are supplying some free information, so the readers should be willing to put up with a little advertising.


  1. Jon Henshaw Said,

    August 5, 2005 @ 12:05 am

    IMHO, these are the rules:

    1. Full Feed: Ads
    2. Teaser Feed: No Ads

    Full feeds provide the entire content, and don’t give the user a reason to visit your website, so it makes sense to serve ads. However, Teaser feeds (ones that only show a brief description) are used to entice the reader to read more. If you have a good teaser/description, then people will visit your website, and quite possibly click on an ad.

    As a rule of thumb, I never subscribe, and ALWAYS unsubscribe to Teaser Feeds that have ads.

  2. Miha Said,

    August 5, 2005 @ 12:42 am

    Compleatly agree with above. If you use full feeds than you should put ads in it becouse there is a minimum chance that users will visit your webpage after reading the whole story.

    But I would like to know if users ever click on ads in RSS feeds?

  3. Toivo Lainevool Said,

    August 5, 2005 @ 1:07 am

    Thanks for the input.

    I’ll let you know if people actually click on ads once I sign up for and start using RSS ads :)

  4. Jon Henshaw Said,

    August 5, 2005 @ 8:13 am

    Toivo, as a frequent visitor to your website, and a person who subscribes to your feed, I would appreciate it if you gave us two options (like the ones I pointed out in my first post). I say this, because if you ONLY provide a full feed with ads, I will be unsubscribing from it.

    Also, regarding Miha’s comment. I have yet to click on any feed ads. I do however click on Adsense ads on web pages if the ad interests me.

  5. Toivo Lainevool Said,

    August 5, 2005 @ 8:46 am

    I guess I misunderstood you, John. I thought you said that either full feeds with ads or teaser feeds without ads were OK with you.

    I do really appreciate your thoughts on this. I am still considering what the right thing to do is. Right now getting new members and building up the database is more important to me than some short term monatary gain. The RSS ads would be more or less an experiment.

  6. Jon Henshaw Said,

    August 5, 2005 @ 9:03 am

    No, you understood me, I just didn’t communicate myself very well. I’ll try to be clearer.

    1. My preference is for you to have two choices: Full and Teaser. This gives an option to your users.

    2. Personally, I only subscribe to Teaser feeds. And if Teaser feeds have ads, I will unsubscribe from them.

    3. If there is only one feed, and that feed is a Full feed, I will subscribe to that. But as soon as that Full feed contains ads, I will generally unsubscribe from it.

    I’m sure you’re picking up a theme here. I hate RSS ads. I think it goes against what RSS was designed to do. But that shouldn’t stop you from implementing/experimenting with them. All I’m asking is that you continue to provide a Teaser feed without ads for people like me.

  7. Sascha J. Said,

    October 1, 2005 @ 2:47 pm

    Hey there… I know the thread is quite old, but anyway:

    Jon, I think you are a bit strict, concerning RSS ads. I mean, where is the problem in having some little ads displayed? Does that disturb you SO much? I actually don’t think so. Have a look at newspapers, or even TV shows – more parts of those are commercials / ads, than real content.

    You get free information, Toivo put work and time in this site and he most likely has to pay for hosting/bandwith, so I think your behavoiur is a little ungraceful.

    Anyway, it’s up to you what you subscribe to, or not – I just wanted to tell my opinion :) .


    P.S.: Sorry that I haven’t reported AdSense Earnings and posting on the blog for such a long time – but I accidentially destroyed my Windows partition with my bookmarks, when I installed Linux :)

  8. Toivo Lainevool Said,

    October 1, 2005 @ 3:50 pm

    Welcome back Sascha.

    I did not have any problems at all with Jon’s comments. I was looking for opinions and he gave me his. I think there are a lot of people who agree with this point of view, that RSS should remain ad free.

    I personaly don’t mind ads in feeds too much, I haven’t un-subscribed from any feeds because of them yet. Sure, they can be a little annoying, but if the RSS feed is giving me good information I don’t mind.

    I didn’t get accepted into the AdSense for feeds, so I probably don’t have to worry about this issue for a while.

  9. Sascha J. Said,

    October 2, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

    Yea sure, I just thought that this opinion is a bit strict… But well, that’s in my eyes.

    Did Google yet say anything, when AdSense for RSS will be available for the public?

  10. Toivo Lainevool Said,

    October 2, 2005 @ 5:59 pm

    I haven’t heard anything about the release of AdSense for Feed to the public yet.

  11. tom sherman Said,

    July 3, 2006 @ 3:47 am

    People still listen to Dave Whiner?!

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