Ads in RSS Feeds

So far, RSS feeds have generally been ad-free. But that’s likely to change, as RSS feeds become more popular and as the ad industry starts to get a clue about this new online medium.

Today in Poynter’s E-Media Tidbits, I wrote about how some advertisers are starting their first forays into RSS-land.

I don’t think that ads in RSS feeds are necessarily a bad idea, but I think they need to be handled very carefully…

Keep in mind that one of the biggest attractions of RSS feeds over e-mail announcements is that RSS feeds are spam-proof. Therefore, if you start putting too many ads in your feeds, or if your readers can’t distinguish the feed items from the ad items just by the headline, your feed will start to resemble spam.

More news and resources about RSS feed ads:

  • IndustryBrains Feb. 25, 2004 announcement of its new RSS feed ad syndication service. (InfoWorld and Network Computing have already signed up.)
  • How long will RSS be ad-free? (Adland weblog entry, Feb. 8, 2004, with discussion in the comments.)
  •, an “ad network that will provide a full-service outsourced ad bureau that makes it easy to buy and sell ads in RSS feeds, including technical integration, publisher approval process, and payments. We are currently signing up publishers to be a part of our ad network.”

3 thoughts on Ads in RSS Feeds

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  1. RSS is changing our surfing habits. Before RSS, we created several page views on a website by thumbing through articles; some of interest some not so. Page views equals revenue.

    Now enter RSS. We are creating less page views. Publishers need to be compensated. Ads in feeds is inevitable.

    I agree. It must be done right. Advertisers and publishers need to work closely together for an ad feed model to succeed. The consumer has so much more control and if the noise to value ratio is too high, the consumer will leave.

    Bill Flitter

  2. Hi there-

    I just saw your item in the E-Media Tidbits newsletter on this point and you said you hadn’t seen any of these ads yet. Well, I subscribe to the InfoWorld top news feed and I started noticing them this morning. Here’s what it looks like in my RSS reader (I’m using NetNewsWire Lite on Mac OS X):
    Sun expands HP Away

    Sun Microsystems Inc. is expanding its aggressive HP Away program as it continues to lure Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) customers to its Solaris platform.


    Web based project tracking solution – Web-based time tracking and expense reporting solution for project management, billing and time and attendance. Implement in 2-3 days. Over 750,000 users worldwide. Free demo.
    One thing to note is that not all RSS headlines I get from the feed include the ad.