Advertising Within Your RSS Feed

Advertising Within Your RSS Feed

Over the past few weeks I've shown you how to set up and use Feedburner for the syndication (RSS) of your blog. This is the final post in this series and today I'll point you to resources for including advertisements within your feed.

RSS buttons


Last week, in the discussion about whether to use full or partial RSS feeds, one of the arguments for partial RSS feeds was that bloggers wanted to entice their readers to click over to their site so they (the blogger) would have more pageviews and thus more revenue for their traffic-based ads. That conversation leads directly to this week's topic: how can you include ads in your RSS feeds? (The discussion of whether you should include ads within feeds can take place in the comments; I'm just giving you options.)

Types of Advertisements for RSS Feeds

When you choose to put ads on your blog(s), there are a few options. The two most widely-used types of advertisements are traffic-based ads (e.g., BlogHer Ads) and pay-per-click ads (like Google AdSense). If you are using traffic-based ads, you're paid based on the number of pageviews your blog receives, not how many times readers click the ads. If you're using pay-per-click ads, it doesn't matter how many pageviews you have, you're only paid if a reader clicks on the ad.

If you choose to include ads in your RSS feeds, the options currently available are mostly context-based pay-per-click ads resembling the Google AdSense model. This is a list of some of the companies that can help you monetize your RSS feed:

  • Google AdSense for Feeds provides context-based ads. Since Google owns Feedburner, you can easily include Google AdSense inside your feed if you're currently signed up with Feedburner. Just log in to your Feedburner account, click the Monetize tab, and follow the directions.
  • CrispAds offers context-based ads and will let you choose what ads are included with your content.
  • Feedvertising uses text-link ads. You have the option of approving or denying specific ads.
  • Pheedo Inc. allows you to control the keyword filters and specific advertisements being shown in your feed. Here are some examples of Pheedo ads within feeds. You can use Pheedo with your Feedburner feed.

What to Consider Before Including Ads in Your RSS Feed

It's tempting to include ads within your feed(s) because it's a potential revenue stream. However, I strongly encourage you to consider three things before you make your final decision:

  • Are the ads being served relevant to your blog's content? If you write a blog about organically grown food are your contextually-based ads coming up with sugary breakfast cereal advertisements? If so, your audience may be put off by the ads and unsubscribe to your blog. Or, worse, your credibility is called into question.
  • How many ads will appear within the feed? Readers don't like it when they can't find the content they're looking for because it's buried between ads. When ads take over your RSS feed (or your blog, for that matter), you may be losing the focus of your blog. You're almost certainly ticking off your readers.
  • Are the ads clearly marked so readers don't confuse ads with blog content? Readers don't appreciate being duped (see the bit about credibility above). Beyond that, though, with the new FTC guidelines in place, as a blogger, you have an obligation to make sure your content and ads are clearly separated and aren't confused.

What Do You Think?

Advertising on blogs is fairly common these days, but, all in all, RSS feed adversing really hasn't taken off. I don't know whether that's from

  • a lack of advertising options within feeds,
  • the fact that most blogs using RSS ads are making very little money
  • the perception that it may be difficult to set up feeds to serve the ads, or
  • bloggers simply don't consider RSS as another revenue stream.

As a blogger, I can certainly understand the draw of adding another revenue source to blogging, but as a reader, I'm not sure I'm excited about that possibility. Although I read much of my news from within my feed reader (at least cursorily), I do click over to the actual site to read more thoroughly and comment. If my feeds are cluttered with ads, I may opt to stop reading a blog completely rather than wade through the distraction of ads.

What do you think? Would you include ads within your RSS feed? Do you mind reading feeds from blogs that include ads with the RSS?

Further Reading

The Rest of the RSS Series

Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions for bloggers at Blogging Basics 101. She is also the co-author of TypePad for Dummies.


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