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.