Everyone Loves Ads in FeedDemon!

On second thought, that headline might not be entirely correct :)

As you can imagine, the comments to my last post have spawned a lot of conversations at NewsGator.  I really don’t want to say yet what we’re going to do as a result (because we’re not sure yet), but please don’t think my lack of response is due to anything other than not wanting to open my mouth too soon.

Funny thing is, I actually do understand some of the negative reaction to ads (for proof, take a look at this cartoon I drew many years ago).  I personally don’t find the ads in FeedDemon to be bothersome, but I do recognize that advertising has entered every corner of our lives, and sometimes it seems there’s no escaping it no matter how hard we try.  For many of you, it’s not about how tasteful or targeted the ads are: it’s about not wanting to be sold to every minute of your lives.  I get that.

The problem for us is that we find ourselves in an ugly economic climate that absolutely requires everyone to earn revenue wherever they can.  Charging for our software again didn’t seem wise (imagine the reaction to that!), which led us to consider advertising as a possible revenue stream.  I won’t claim to have been in love with the idea, but after considering the alternatives, and especially once I saw how the ads would look in FeedDemon, I felt better about it.  Anyway, if you want a bit more detail on our thinking behind the ad-based version, check out this post on Jeff Nolan’s blog.

So…what I would like to know next is how you recommend we earn revenue from our software.  Let’s just assume we offer an ad-free version for a small fee: would that alone be enough to pay the bills?  I have serious doubts about that (that doesn’t mean we won’t do it, but it does mean we have to consider other approaches, too).

Look, I love the fact that there are still people who buy software – even just to get rid of the ads – but the ugly truth for developers is that these people are in the extreme minority.  Today’s audience has been conditioned to expect software for free, and plenty of otherwise honest people have no qualms about piracy.  Within days of releasing a paid ad-free version, it would be available on hundreds of warez sites and IRC channels.

Really, that’s a huge reason why we considered ads in the first place.  Very few people are willing to pay for software anymore, so we had to look at other sources of revenue.  Which is why I want to hear from you about anything we might be overlooking.  If charging for software doesn’t work, and advertising in software bothers so many people, then what else can we do?

80 thoughts on “Everyone Loves Ads in FeedDemon!

  1. Nick,
    I understand your side of the story. However, all the people who are royally pissed, because you stopped offering an ad-free version, will do one the following:
    1. switch to another newsreader
    2. use or a previous version for as long as they can
    3. use an ad-free cracked version of FeedDemon (you can bet that one will show up).
    I chose number 2 for now. There is absolutely no incentive for me in upgrading anymore. I hate the “integration” with Newsgator Online anyway; if I want an online newsreader, I bet Google’s is better.

  2. Put the ads in and ignore the people who said they paid for it or would pay for it. These people are in their own little worlds and think that if they alone pay for it, it will be enough for you. Obviously, if you put out a paid version, it will just get pirated more (though pirates could hack the ads).
    The only recourse the people who are against the ads have are to use a different product, but as long as you put out the best product out there, they will come around.
    As a side, could you please put out a no-install/portable version and integrate FeedStation into FeedDemon (not as a separate program).

  3. let me also add that I have nothing against the idea of having ads on my screen. The problem in my case is screen estate, especially on a 1024×768 screen. I am subscribed to 100+ feeds, and that box in the lower left corner is obscuring too many of them, so I have to scroll more frequently.

  4. Although I’m just repeating what many wrote to the last post: having payed for FeedDemon before it became free software, I’d kind of expect to get a version without ads…
    About the ads: they don’t bother me much on my 24” LCD and I’m learning to ignore them (isn’t that what happens with most online ads anyway? How long will this market really keep up?), but they are annoying on the small screen of my notebook. It won’t make me drop FeedReader, I’m just too used to it and the synchronizing feature is great (I also have a Mac, so the Gator account is a blessing), it’s just a small minus in an otherwise superb software.

  5. ups, of course the second time above it should also say FeedDemon. Freudian slip :)

  6. Nick;
    Thanks for taking the time to expand on this subject. I’m not going to add to ads/no ads controversy, but I do have a question/comment:
    “The problem for us is that we find ourselves in an ugly economic climate that absolutely requires everyone to earn revenue wherever they can.”
    So what was the company’s business model/plan for income when they started giving the software away?
    I mean some could conclude that this “was” the plan; offer the software for free to increase the user base. Higher user base leads to a better deal with the advertising companies. I’m not saying that this is what NewsGator did but it does make me wonder…
    Anyway, yes I would pay a “small” fee for an add free version…
    Thanks and Happy Holidays
    – JohnT

  7. Nick,
    Just offer two version, one with ads, one without. Ad supported is free, premium for a price, $25.00? What did you charge before? I forget, but before switching to the Mac I was a loyal FeedDemon user, and would happily pay the $25.00.
    I think you guys are doing a great job, keep up the good work, and I wish you all the best in 2009!

  8. Assuming the screenshot in that previous post is representative of what we’ll see, I am not concerned. FeedDemon is very valuable to me, and I’m certainly willing to pay for it, even through a modest amount of screen real estate dedicated to ads.

  9. The problem with FeedDemon ads is that they flicker. They change all too often and irritate eyes when reading posts. I say bill me for ad-free version and that’s it. Since you use close integration with NewsGator, wouldn’t it help to weed out cracked versions? I mean, you can check validity maybe 100 times every day – every time FD updates feeds. Although I am not programmer and don’t know whether this is feasible, or not.

  10. Check with the guys at Iconfactory, who make twitterific (http://iconfactory.com/software/twitterrific). They seem to be making money with 2 versions.
    They make 2 versions of the OS X & iPhone app. One version is free, with ads, and the other version is for sale, without ads.
    I have purchased twitterific for both OS X & iPhone, because I don’t want the ads, even though the ads were not very intrusive. They put an ad in the twitter stream once an hour.
    There are enough of us out there who will pay to eliminate ads. Others will put up with ads to save money, or to try the software before buying.
    I don’t think you can worry too much about warz sites. That’s a small % of the users who you”re going to lose no matter what you do. Write them off and deal with the rest of us.
    I do want to thank you for considering this decision so publicly. And, whatever you decide, I will continue to use your products on Windows, Mac, & iPhone. I love the synchronization between the 3.
    Maybe that’s what you could charge for — the web service that syncs the feeds between products on multiple machines? It’s not something that could be stolen on a warz site. Think about it…

  11. As far as I remember (having paid for the software 2-3 times, more out of loyalty than necessity), it used to cost $30.
    Personally, I feel that I was taken for a sucker. First when FD was made freeware, shortly after I had paid again for it, and now the second time.

  12. I was a paid customer of both Netnewswire and FeedDemon until that was no longer possible. If you start adding ads to your software and don’t offer a paid, ad-free alternative, I will find something else to use. I hate ads, and refuse to use any software that imposes them on me without an alternative.

  13. More of a general answer as I a Mac user and therefore user of NetNewsWire. However, I can’t imagine it is going to be long before the same ads come to that fine program so I thought I would chime in.
    You have an internet back end for users, like me, who actually sync our feeds between multiple computers. Why don’t you add a paid account to the backend that turns off ads in the client applications? That way piracy would not be such a big issue, to remove ads you would have to sync with the backend and pay. If you don’t sync or you don’t pay then you get ads.
    Seems simple enough to me, maybe that means I am missing something?

  14. Look people, what it boils down to is basically two choices:
    1) FeedDemon with ads
    2) No FeedDemon
    You can stand on your “princples” all you want, but “principles” don’t keep food on the table.
    The problem appears to be that no one can come up with a satisfactory answer to his last question – and I think the reason is because you all realize that there IS no satisfactory answer, and are instead resorting to the same retread arguments from yesterday – becoming part of the problem, not the solution.
    None of these are constructive responses to his question:
    “I hate ads and won’t use FeedDemon” – ok, BUH-bye
    “You are trying to screw us” – ok, BUH-bye
    “My feelings are hurt because you’re doing this” – tough, get over it or BUH-bye.
    As a reminder, here is the question he is asking that I have not yet seen an attempt made to be answered:
    “If charging for software doesn’t work, and advertising in software bothers so many people, then what else can we do?”
    The solutions that have already been provided by the company are either a) rejected out of hand by the complainers or b) have already been tried and determined not to be viable. Why? Because none of you really want to pay. Deep down, what each of you wants is to have the application handed to you free, without ads.
    However, after just a few minutes thought I can come up with a couple of other ideas for other revenue streams that don’t involve ads:
    1) Pay ala carte for all the extra features beyond basic feed reading. $20 for the base application. You want to synchronize? Another $20. You need FeedStation? $15 Like to tag a lot? $10.
    2) Create a extensible plugin architecture and charge developers for an SDK/plugin developer’s license and take a cut of any plugin sales for plugins they develop and charge for.
    IMHO, though, both of those ideas are more distasteful than dealing with ads.
    So, again we come back to the same thing that I stated earlier. The answer to Nick’s question is essentially thus:
    Question: “If charging for software doesn’t work, and advertising in software bothers so many people, then what else can we do?”
    Answer: Nothing – there are only two options, and only one is really viable in this climate:
    1) Create another ad-free pay version and all the issues that entails, which won’t even generate the necessary sales to cover its development costs (and I guarantee that even if there are 1000x the number of people who have already claimed they would pay for an ad-free version, it still wouldn’t be enough to cover the costs).
    2) Create an ad-supported version that gives the company the freedom to keep on building more things, updating the software, creating more value.
    Look, Marshall Field, who was the “genius” that came up with the cliche “The customer is always right” has managed with that one little phrase to create a society of spoiled brats who feel everything should be handed to them on a silver platter. The customer is NOT always right, sorry to say.

  15. Offer an advanced menu option to hide the adsbox. Most people live happily with the ads, people that are bothered by them can hide them, and there’s no excuse to drop feedemon.

  16. Frankly, I can’t see how offering a paid, ad-free version could NOT pay the bills.
    Ads drive revenue. The advertiser runs an ad, and believes that he’ll get R dollars in additional revenue, directly or indirectly, from that ad. He’ll happily pay some percentage of R to an ad network; call the advertising costs R’.
    The ad network, in turn, wants to increase the value of their ads by buying up more and better real estate. They’ll gladly pay you some percentage of R’ in exchange for your real estate. Call NewsGator’s cut R”.
    I think there are only two possibilities:
    1. R” is a reasonable number. We (the no-ad-wanting end users) would have no problems just giving you $R” every month and cutting out the middlemen.
    2. R” is a ludicrous number. It’s more than any sane person would pay for an ad-free FeedDemon.
    Which is it?
    If #1, great! Everybody’s happy. THE END.
    If #2, you have a BIG problem, because now, either:
    2a. We will spend an additional R every month thanks to the ads – without realizing it – but we won’t pay you R” as an explicit cost to avoid it.
    2b. We *won’t* spend an additional R every month; R is an overinflated estimate of the revenue we’ll generate.
    Which is it?
    If 2a… I don’t believe you. If R is accurate, R” should be a tiny percentage of my monthly spending habits.
    If 2b, you have a BIG problem, because it means you’re trying to save NewsGator with an economic model that, by definition, will collapse as soon as somebody else realizes it. Where have we seen that before? Oh, right. Everywhere. THE END.
    Are there other possibilities I haven’t thought of?

  17. Difficult issue. My own salary is for a considerable part made by advertising as I work for a publishing house selling printed magazines and running online news channels — but I catch myself disliking ads also, no matter whether online, in magazines or even radio/tv. And I would guess that among the FeedDemon users are quite a lot users (compared to other software) which work for or even own a web project that earns money by ads. (or would like to :-)Maybe there are more people here who would pay for a good software than one thinks. Don’t underestimate the users not writing any comments here.
    For a ad-version of FeedDemon, of course its a bit badly double featured to see the web-ads on the right and the software-ads on the left, but so what, thats the world so far. The users dont change the world if they choose another product (did I hear right that some would go to Google?! For avoiding you to earn money by ads they go to THE ad-company?! If the small good hearful companies do the same like the big, I choose the big and later whine that noone in business has a heart anymore? For avoiding rain go to the rain forest? Is there something here which I didnt get?).
    But then: I would not pay to get rid of things which I mentally get rid of. I see a million ads a day, and it’s not worth any money to see one less. I would stay with FeedDemon and ignore the ads (or even click once a year) and happily grant you the earnings :) I think lots of people would do the same and would not leave FeedDemon. Don’t overestimate the people whining here ;-)
    So to get any money directly from me (btw. I bought HomeSite 15 years ago or so, so I already own your soul ;-), you’d have to make a “pro” version with more goodies like integrating opera/firefox (for getting rid the IE security things). Or, what others already said, call a fee for the synchronizing feature when used e.g. moren than five times a day or so, which then also removes the ads. I’d stay and pay.

  18. “Frankly, I can’t see how offering a paid, ad-free version could NOT pay the bills.”
    Because, despite what you may think, there are not enough people who are willing to pay for the application to make an ad-free paid version viable. Jeff posted a comment over in Nick’s other post that makes this clear – go check it out.

  19. The rational provided is a little concerning. Ads we get the software, no ads the software dies. The one needs to ask, why let the software live. If this software cannot pay of itself through the customer base, then it tells me its time to seek an alternative.
    Eudora was the master of two versions and it eventually gave way to open source and ended. Pegasus mail continues to run with a paid and non paid version of the software.
    I think the real problem – still not shared – is the business model used by Newsgator will not withstand this economic downturn.
    As many a poster as stated, we can make decisions about the tools we will use. In my case, I will not renew my fees with Newsgator and I will simply stop asking others to use the software. There are other choices with out the ads that do charge money and give me the results I need.
    Simply put, all signs point to a bad business model. I’m simply not prepared to get hit with ads in answer to poor business planning.
    I wish the folks at Newsgator the best.
    Time for me to find some RSS software without ads flashing on the screen.

  20. I develop shareware and I am a big fan of feed demon. I truly understand the dilema with funding a good piece of software. IMHO tastefull ads are ok but a “donate” button to get rid of them is probably what I would see to keep everyone happy.
    I use this product to look for jobs, contracts and to keep up with technology. You could say that I potentially make money using it. If I was asked to donate a fixed amount to get rid of the commercials I would do it with great pleasure and without question.
    My two c’s

  21. critter, you’ve stated that you don’t work for NG and don’t have the inside information. Obviously that means you have no idea what you’re talking about when dealing with the specific financials involved in creating an ad-free version.
    It doesn’t need to be a “new version”. Development costs should be minimal, because all it needs to do is TURN OFF THE AD BOX. It’s not a complete rewrite. A few dozen lines of code to check to see if ads have been disabled in the synchronization protocol, and then don’t enable the ad box.
    Obviously there would be a minimum of change required to the sync protocol which sends the “paid user” flag, but please try to be serious. NOT offering an ad-free version does not cause income to be maintained because people will just “put up” with them; it causes income to be *lost*, because users will switch either to a free application (G Reader, Bloglines, Pageflakes, Rojo, etc.) or go to a paid application that doesn’t have ads.

  22. Nick,
    Lesson #1 is always that customer feedback whether through comment sections or focus groups rarely reflects what the actual response will be once a decision is made and put into the market.
    Lesson #2 is that customer feedback never matters where survival is concerned. If your business model is failing, you (and every other company in a similar position) will do what you must to stay afloat.
    I’m sorry to hear all this, but not surprised. We are all in the midst of a massive economic sea-change. I wish you luck. I’d like to believe that a fee-based model would work, but I’m not in your business and realize you know better than any of us what’s what………..It’s just that none opf us signed up for ads within our apllications.

  23. @Signe,
    While I don’t have “inside information”, I do have information posted by Jeff, one of the VPs of the company, who has explicitly stated that there are other costs involved in creating a non-ad version that make such an offering cost-prohibitive, so I am not just speaking out of my ass as you seem to assume.

  24. There are still no free lunches, and prices still contain information. Zero price, zero information, for zero value. Provide a free pass for currently registered users that is validated on the backend during an auto update process or some such. There’s no money in free, without which no business and no profits and the product dies, replaced with another or the company dies. Creative destruction.

  25. Critter,
    I see Jeff’s comment, but it sounds like he’s talking about the costs of the old model: try to support FeedDemon through sales.
    I can see how that would be unsustainable; clearly, they stopped charging because they weren’t making much money that way.
    I don’t see anything in Jeff’s comment about maintaining an ad-driven version alongside an ad-free, paid version. I agree with Signe; it shouldn’t be much development on the client side. On the server, you’d have to integrate a shopping cart. That doesn’t *sound* like much, though I’m always loathe to say “all you have to do is X” when I don’t know the internals.
    Can you point to where Jeff “stated that there are other costs involved in creating a non-ad version that make such an offering cost-prohibitive”? I don’t think he has. In fact, his comment, which was just posted this morning, says that “we started talking about this [ad-free, paid version] yesterday in response to these comments.” Quite the opposite.

  26. Graphical ads do suck. I would not mind text ads (like Google ads) inserted into _some_ of the RSS items. They should not annoy, should be divided from the main article text and should have reasonable amount.
    As for the model, I’d rather pay for the ads-free version.

  27. [Nick wrote:] “If charging for software doesn’t work, and advertising in software bothers so many people, then what else can we do?”
    You can provide a service people are willing to pay for.
    From a developer’s point of view, free software makes sense if only if it’s tied to some form of revenue generation. Embedded advertising may generate revenue for the developer, but it does not provide a service to the user. Create a service people are willing to pay for, and give the software away as an incentive to sign up for the service.
    In the case of FeedDemon, the obvious service you can charge for is online synchronization of feed subscriptions. Unlike advertising, online synchronization provides real value to the user and therefore provides an incentive to use FeedDemon. Advertising, on the other hand, provides no real value to the user and, judging by the majority of comments in response to your original blog post on the subject, is actually a disincentive that may compel long-time, loyal users to seek ad-free alternatives.
    If you’ve given up on charging for FeedDemon itself, continue to make it available for free but charge for the online synchronization service. Those who sign up for a paid account get a valuable service plus an ad-free version of FeedDemon. Those who don’t sign up get a free version with ads but no synchronization service. In both cases, you get a revenue stream, while your customers who value the service enough to pay for it won’t have to put up with embedded advertising.

  28. Critter, I’ll second(third?) the impression that you’re overstepping.
    A good portion of the paid/free separation process has already been built; I still have my license key on record somewhere. There will surely be modifications required, but this is not a ground-up feature build, either. Sorry, but I can’t accept your reduction of this to two choices until it comes from someone who /is/ employed by Newsgator. In fact, Jeff Nolan’s comment, which you yourself cite, specifically indicates they are open to at least one other option.
    I do think that it’s not unreasonable for at least some features to be separately-priced add-ons. I don’t at this moment intend to ever use the sync features or on-line client, for example, for reasons you yourself addressed and partially agreed with in a forum thread earlier this year, and would rather not be paying for their development. (In a theoretical future paid-product model, of course.)
    On the other side of that, I’m also fine with paying a higher license fee than previously, as there are just more features/services inclusive now. The application–and not staring at ads–is worth enough to me. Speaking only for myself, obviously; I’m aware that a higher amount also likely translates to fewer people who would pay it, unfortunately.

  29. I paid for FeedDemon twice. Then it went free. Now you want to put ads in it. At the very least, those of us who paid for it in the past should be able to use it free of ads.

  30. Not to be a jerk about this, seriously, because I work in an ad-supported industry, as well, but I have to ask whether there aren’t enough users willing to pay for the software to support the development of the clients… or are there not enough users to pay for development of Newsgator’s entire business?
    I won’t begrudge an ad coming into the app, but I’m beginning to wonder about the decision to take the best clients on their respective platforms and adding them to a larger company. Brent and Nick seemed to be doing fine when they were individual developers.
    I’m probably missing something, honestly, but what I wrote above is the first thing I thought when I saw the ad announcement.
    I wish you guys the best.

  31. As just posted on Nolan’s blog, I’ll repeat myself here:
    Charge for NG syncing. Charge for FeedStation. Charge for FeedDemon or at least offer an ad-free paid version for those who don’t utilize any other services provided by your company. Under no circumstances don’t tie these things together as suggested. Punishing the whole userbase isn’t the way to go, instead charge for services people are willing to pay for – online syncing, freedom from the ads, you name it. It really is as simple as that.
    Tying these together so that one has to pay for say syncing in order to be freed from the ads, sigh. If forcefed ads is the most profitable way to go, I for one would rather see them amongst the content, not in the user interface. It’s not like every RSS aggregation service doesn’t add them already to posts and most of the “commercial/professional” blogs and blog networks don’t post separate ad items (neatly labeled as this-and-that from The Sponsors).
    Out of all the possible choices there are, ads being in the interface this way is so far the worst. Out of all the suggestions provided locking ad-freeness with paid syncing is the worst. Here’s hoping that the outcome is something other than these.

  32. If one more vote for a paid ad-free version is any kind of useful datum at this point, here’s my vote for that.
    It’s already been mentioned that Eudora tried the “free version with ads that becomes an ad-free version when you register” approach, and that Eudora went balls up afterwards…but speaking as a former user, the downfall of Eudora was not because of that business model, and to infer a cause-and-effect relationship there would be a mistake. It still seems like a viable approach and I hope you’ll look closely at the other apps which have used it successfully before ruling it out.

  33. Nick: Perhaps you should have held on to TopStyle. There were at least some people willing to pay for that. ;-)
    As for the ads. You’ve only posted one mockup of how ads could look in FeedDemon. Surely there are other possibilities? Text ads are less intrusive for example. Ads injected into feeds are another possibility. How about ‘obligatory’ feed subscriptions …?
    In general I’m not keen on the idea of ads in FeedDemon, but I like the app enough to give them a try. But there is one major point nobody seems to have mentioned: Relevance. Will the ads be context sensitive to what I am reading? If not, then you’re not going to earn much revenue from advertising anyway.
    The reason we all use Google and Gmail is because the ads are relatively inconspicuous, but more importantly they are relevant. Especially in Gmail.
    Let’s face it, the vast majority of feeds we subscribe to in FeedDemon are in reality ‘advertising’. If the ads in FeedDemon are as useful and interesting to me as the feeds I already subscribe to, then I don’t have a problem. In fact I’d pay extra for the ad-enabled version!
    Now, I live in a small scandinavian country. If I see ads in FeedDemon for, say, US automobiles (I don’t drive), I’m going to be pretty pissed off for one thing, and you’re not going to earn anything from any clickthroughs from me either …

  34. After the second post about ads in FeedDemon I decided to take the new version for a spin. I think one of the hardest things to gauge is how intrusive the ads will or won’t be just from a screen shot. Perhaps a video would show it better? And some examples of what the ads actually are would allow users to judge better instead of reacting negatively so quickly.
    I will tell you I am one of those that isn’t happy about the ads. Partially because I originally paid for FeedDemon a few years ago (and would have been happy paying for future upgrades instead of FD going free). And partially because I was under the assumption that the company had figured out another revenue model since you made FD free. I don’t agree with the premise that no one is willing to pay for software. I pay for good software that I use all the time, but that isn’t why I’m writing.
    I understand that developers need to make money. I’m a photojournalist at a newspaper, which is a dwindling and evolving business. (So please everyone buy a local paper or add it to your list of RSS feeds to help support your local newspaper. Or at least tell you local newspaper how they can better serve your needs.)
    None the less, after trying FD out for the past half hour the ads aren’t exceedingly intrusive. It is annoying to see I have to scroll now to see all my folders, clippings, etc. Minor annoyance. So far the 2 ads I’ve seen look ridiculous. One is a picture of what looks like Curious George from the childrens books and the text “Email kung fu. Try MailChimp free.” If there won’t be any moving Gif’s or flash then I can live with it.
    I’m more confused about the purpose of the tagging feature than the ads as it doesn’t seem useful to me but that may just be me. I don’t save much in my clippings to need tagging. And I can’t figure out how to make it easy for me to easily send a clipping to a specific clipping group. Seems the Share button defaults to one clip group. I’d like to be able to customize my icons next to the titles.
    To get back on topic, I can live with the ads. But I will state I am willing to pay for software that is good and offers something different than a free alternative. Differences such as more/better controls or features and developers who communicate with their users. Responsive developers often seem to be the problem with free software, but not so with FD. But perhaps I’m out of the ordinary as Nick suggests. I wonder though how all those other software companies manage to survive if they ask their users to pay for their software. I’m disappointed, more than anything else, that a proper business model wasn’t developed before now.

  35. As a customer who paid for FeedDemon before the NewsGator acquisition, I would be completely displeased with ads. I will move to a lower quality RSS client to avoid ads. I sold my Tivo because they were putting too many ads in (for a service that I was also paying for – talk about double-dipping!).
    How did NewsGator plan to monetize FeedDemon? Was there a business plan? How has the economic climate changed that plan?
    How much revenue will the ads bring in? I would rather pay a (reasonable) annual subscription to NewsGator for unique features (such as syncing, posting to a weblog/del.icio.us).
    Will this affect NetNewsWire as well?

  36. I am a current NNW user and would switch in a heartbeat if ads show up. I used to pay for FD however and had no problem doing so as it was best of breed on the windows platform. Apparently Nick and Newgator’s plan (if there really was one) didn’t pan out, or maybe this was the plan. Either way if ads show up, Im gone. I don’t mind ads on the web as someone said its like watching TV, but for applications that live on my desktop no way.
    At this point I am not sure if would pay to remove the ads because I had been paying for it and you decided to make it free which urked me because now everyone got what I was paying for absolutely free. Maybe thing about charging for the syncing service. To me thats a premium service anyhow, im sure maybe you could make a basic “lite” version as well and a pro version. I dunno know the answer but I don’t like where this is headed. RSSOwl, Vienna, time to download.

  37. I love FeedDemon and am so used to it, that well, I wouldn’t think of switching. However, I did pay for FeedDemon for over two years.
    I am not too pleased with the ads in the interface, however, I am ok with them right now. It does take up some screen area but that is fine on my 1280 screen.
    On a smaller window it would be terrible.

  38. I’m a former paid FD customer; I’ve tried the RC of 2.8, and gone back to 2.7. The ads take too much space, the window is too distracting, and the ad content is totally irrelevant to me. I completely understand the need for monetization in the current climate, but their very presence is enough to put me off using the software completely.
    The argument that “if you use google then you’ve got no argument” is a disingenuous one at best. I do use google, but it’s a web service. My PC is my machine, and I don’t use adware of any sort on it. I pay for my software, or use open source.
    If paid subs for either the program or the sync service aren’t possible, and we’re stuck with an adware version, then Newsgator will have to hope that they can increase the new userbase proportionately, as many customers will be moving on.
    I think the main problem we have here is that perhaps former paid users feel they are victims of lack of planning at Newsgator, and are being “punished” (for want of a better word) for the misadventure of the widely acknowledged “best of breed” newsreader being turned into freeware.
    I don’t have any answers beyond “I’ll pay for it again”. Good luck Nick, I hope things work out.

  39. Why can’t you do a free version with ads and a paid version with no ads? Doesn’t the fee make up for the lack of ads? You have spent a lot of time making it a friendly and useable piece of software and, for me, that is what makes software worth paying for — if it’s a pleasure to use, which is how you see to have tried to distinguish FeedDemon. Obviously, I have no way of knowing how many others would also really pay… but I would give you another $30 for each major version, or $30 a year. Wouldn’t that make up for the ad revenue?
    If that’s no good, how about tying it to NewsGator somehow — a premium NewsGator subscription with an ad-free FeedDemon? I would pay for the premium subscription just to get the ad-free FeedDemon.
    Anyway, I am really serious about the ads thing. I won’t have them, and I’ll look for something else if they come, even if it’s not as functional. They’re distracting and take up useful space. They would detract from the clean, useable interface that you’ve spent so much time constructing.

  40. Nick,
    I say do whatever will be most beneficial in keeping FeedDemon a great product! If that means ads, do that, if it means a paid version do that.
    Ignore the users who think you owe them something, Im just happy you offer the product for free at all.
    My personal opinions however are that the ads are not to intrusive and could possibly even be useful, if they turn out as contextual as Gmail’s do.
    I also like the idea of pay-for versions, and ad-free upgrades.
    Why not have a range of options? Ad version, an ad-free version and a premium ad-free version with some extra features as well. I know hacks and cracks will turn up, but hell there are still going to be plenty of people paying for it.
    One thing you could perhaps think of is really upgrading Newsgator Online as part of a premium upgrade service, so it’s really on a par with Google Reader.
    All I’m afraid of is FeedDemon going the way of TopStyle… I’d be happy to pay to prevent that from happening!

  41. You’ve got to make money but arguably it is even more important to keep your customers happy.
    Not convinced ads will lose you many, but it could damage goodwill and reputation to an extent that will cost you in the long run.
    We may be a minority, but it seems bonkers not to take money from people willing to pay (my business is premium content, but we offer paid-only, and sponsored/ad variants). Plenty of other ISVs appear to have a mixed model, so can’t be that dumb.
    I haven’t decided about ads yet (they are irritating, stealing precious space, raising privacy hackles, though), but I would definitely be willing to pay for better support, bulletproof syncing (these latter two are my big gripes with FD), and other premium features.
    Going for a modular model (‘Charge for NG syncing. Charge for FeedStation. Charge for FeedDemon’, etc.) might work, but perhaps gets fiddly.
    One idea might be to have a simple penny meter by the ads’ box — click here to top-up by PayPal $??? to get rid of ads for x year(s) [and ideally gain premium support, etc.], or forever, etc.
    I’d love to see RSS Server on-demand/SaaS thrown into the mix for SMEs/SMBs, too…perhaps looks to hosted WordPress MU as a model (but with a paid element)…

  42. One things that I see a lot of people here miss (Including apparently Nick and Jeff, by the language used in the posts and comments) is that putting ads in the software *is* charging. It’s *not* free. It’s just that instead of directly charging money from customers, you get the money from someone else, and *cost* the users with attention, intrusion, and screen space.
    Ads take space that can be used for something *useful* on the screen. And ads are, generally speaking, annoying.
    So it’s *not* that the software will continue to be “free but with ads”. The software will be *paid* with ads, not free.
    And that’s the problem many of the commenters here, myself including, have with the idea. In my opinion the screen space, and annoyance/intrusion factor, of ads, is a much higher cost than what I would consider a fair payment for software (practically any software).
    I don’t mind paying *money*. I donate to many free/OSS projects if I use their software. And I purchase programs that I like even when they have free version. And yes, I’m one of those who paid for FeedDemon in the past, before it was made free.
    And I don’t use any software program that shows me ads. If there’s no way to disable the ads, it’s not running here. I do accept ads, with some limitations, on various web sites. Because of the lack of alternatives, because the interfaces are often crappy enough that the ads don’t really hurt it, and because I can block any of the ads (or ad networks/scripts/systems) that annoy me. I do not, however, hold desktop applications to the low standards I’m willing to accept from web apps.
    Please notice that the people saying that they want to pay (money) for an ad-free version are not saying that the business model has to be free/paid. If NewsGator think that they can’t survive in that model, that’s fine, since it’s not what’s on the table.
    People are suggesting a model of paid-by-ads/paid-by-money , and this is against what NewsGator seems to have in mind, which is just a paid-by-ads model. I don’t quite see how *adding* an additional payment option, in addition to what NewsGator already want and not instead of it, is going to hurt the revenues of the other one in any way. Heck, the people who are willing to pay for a program, so they won’t have to see the ads, aren’t going to get any ad revenue anyway. It’s a win-win.
    And for the people who say it’s not a problem since the last version is still available and doesn’t have to be updated… Sure, for now I can stay with the last non-ad version of FeedDemon. But that’s *not* a long term solution. No bug fixes? No new feature?
    Now FeedDemon is very feature rich, and an overall excellent program. But what happens in a year when everyone else adds more things? Staying with the last working version, even if it’s a very good version for the time it was made, isn’t an option…
    I’m pretty sure other feed readers today offer things that the original FeedDemon versions didn’t have. Back then FeedDemon was terrific, and the other programs didn’t have those features either, so it wasn’t a problem. Today I’ll feed that going to the first FeedDemon version is a bad idea and unworkable. Staying with the current FeedDemon is going to be the exact same thing, a little bit into the future.

  43. I don’t see why there is reluctance to release a paid ad-free version and a free ad-supported version.
    It seems to give NG the best of both worlds. There are plenty of people here who say they would pay for FD (and I already paid when Nick was charging for it), and plenty who say they don’t mind the ads. By offering both versions NG can capture both markets. The only one they lose is the people who don’t want to pay and don’t want ads. I would guess those people only came on board after FD became free, just don’t want to pay for software and will go to another free product without ads.
    The idea that all software should be free is a downside to the open source movement. It makes it very hard for non-open source developers to charge for things when people expect software to be free. NG made this choice to stop charging for its software products with the expectation of making up the revenue elsewhere. If that hasn’t occurred, why is there reluctance to go back to the previous model?
    By charging for the product you are at the mercy of your customers, but by living by ad revenue alone you are at the mercy of the advertiser. You should check out other companies and blogs who have tried to live on ad revenue, I think you’ll find it’s VERY hard to do.

  44. As an idea what about making each FD upgrade an almost micro amount and something similar for the sync service? This may possibly overcome some piracy as the amount is small (maybe $10 – $15, maybe less). This way it’s not a lot to pay for a LOT of value, close to free, hopefully maintain customer base and provide an ongoing income stream and provide encouragement to keep developing the products. It seems a fair approach rather than charge once for the software and then lifetime or longtime upgrades – I always thought that over generous – or ads.

  45. Nick, I understand where you and Newsgator are coming from, and “I appreciate” that you get that some of us just want to escape advertising for a few seconds of our lives. Gosh, I’m bombarded my ads everywhere, It’s why I bought an iPod and stopped listening to radio. TV commercials? I get up and do something else while the commercials play and then come back to watch the program. I know there are two camps here, some don’t mind the ads and that’s cool. But for me I just need software that won’t hit me with ads, it’s why I don’t surf with Opera. If Firefox ever goes the Opera route I’ll be surfing with another browser. Piracy is an epidemic, bur I’m willing to support any developer that puts out great software like FeedDemon. Please understand that this is not meant as a threat or anything superficial as that, but I won’t be running a FeedDemon with ads, no matter how good it is. I’m willing to go with less features on another free, or paid, RSS reader. It’s as simple as that, after a busy day – ads are the last thing I need to see on my desktop. It will be tough finding something as good as FD but anything without ads is better. I would support a paid for ad free FD, if you decide to offer one.

  46. Hi Nick,
    Personally I don’t understand why we can’t have the choice – adverts if you want FD for free, no-ads if you pay.
    I’m firmly in the no-ads thank you camp, and I have previously paid for FD.
    Personally I don’t find that the synch adds value (I only use FD on one PC) so I’d be happy to loose that if it meant being ad-free.
    Best regards

  47. @Abe – A bit off-topic, but Opera dropped the ads for the desktop application a long time ago. I still prefer FF due to the extensions, but Opera is is a fine alternative, and, again, does not include built-in ads.

  48. Love FeedDemon and always have, since the earliest version. It’s just *nice* software – it does stuff right, it doesn’t fuck up, and the care that you put into it comes shining through. So a small, static ad in the lower-left corner like you showed? Not a problem. I can tune it out of my visual field of attention. But if it’s blinking, or animated, or changes with every single article or newspaper page change – then yeah, I’m probably gone to Google Reader :)

  49. Nick
    Would charging for it, but distributing it via Steam (www.steampowered.com) be an idea? Steam have addressed piracy by enforcing account validation prior to running the game and other mechanisms such as the prevention of simultaneous account access.
    I know FD is not a game but I wonder if Gabe Newell would turn a request for a discussion from a respected developer like yourself away. The next evolution for Steam, perhaps – apps?

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