I think we all knew this would happen, and many of us are understandably concerned that overzealous advertising will dampen the appeal of RSS. While I’m not opposed to the idea of RSS ads, given past experience, I’d say chances are good that I’ll be opposed to the way that many of them are implemented. Already I’m seeing some useful feeds insert ads in such an annoying way that I’ve unsubscribed from them, and in some cases removed them from the default set of feeds included with FeedDemon.
If you’re planning to insert ads into your feeds and don’t want to see your readers unsubscribe in droves, please consider this list of DO NOTs when planning your implementation:
- Do NOT insert an ad every time the user updates your feed. I’ve seen some feeds whose actual posts are several days apart, yet they insert an ad every time the feed is downloaded – resulting in far more ads than content. If you’re going to insert an ad, only do so when you have new content as well.
- Do NOT change the GUID, pubDate or link of an ad <item> just to get it to appear as new in an RSS reader such as FeedDemon. Resorting to tricks to get additional ad exposure will backfire in the long run.
- Do NOT insert ads in feeds that contain only a summary description. If you’re going to insert ads, at least let us read the full content.
- Do NOT insert ads unrelated to the content of the feed. For example, putting mortgage ads in a tech feed makes you look like a spammer.
Remember, people are reading your feed because you’re providing useful information. If you clutter that information with too many ads – or make ad delivery your primary focus – we’ll stop reading. RSS is not email: if we don’t like what you’re doing, we’ll unsubscribe – and chances are, we’ll never come back.