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RSS Advertising Options

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of October 2006 RSS 0 Comments

It has been around 18 months since I first saw an advertising network begin to offer RSS advertising (it was AdSense launching their beta testing program to a limited number of advertisers – which incidentally still in beta).

When this program was announced it caused quite a large buzz around web publishers and many people talked RSS advertising up as the next big thing. However since that time the buzz has largely subsided and many publishers have expressed disappointment in the conversion of AdSense for RSS and well as what other networks have on offer.

The problems were many with RSS advertising but the main one that I’ve heard publishers complaining about is simply ‘lack of earnings’.

Over the past 18 months a number of other networks have announced – many of which I’ve experimented with. Here are a few of them with a few comments on each:

  • Feedburner Ad Network – if you have Feedburner run your feeds for you and you get a reasonable level of traffic you can apply to be a part of Feedburner’s Ad Network (FAN). It’s a service I’ve used on a number of my blogs for 6+ months now and I’ve done quite well out of it. You can read my review of it here but along with Feedvertising it’s my RSS ad network of choice. I like that you can accept or reject ads before they appear and that it’s a channels based system which helps make ads more relevant to your topic.
  • Feedvertising (aff) – the most recent arrival on the RSS advertising front – this system is from Text Link Ads and is what you see operating in the ProBlogger feeds at present. I’ve introduced it here in more detail but it is currently only available for WordPress users and is a plugin based system that allows you to rotate your own ads into circulation or for you to sell advertising to advertisers through the TLA system (or both). I’ve found it to be quite easy to use and from what I know it is one of the few systems that will accept any RSS – big or small. It doesn’t have a lot of advertisers buying up ads (I’ve had a couple so far) so might not keep your ads as fresh as AdSense or YPN but it’s been quite good for me in terms of earnings so far.
  • AdSense – currently still being beta tested and only available for some publishers. This is contextual RSS advertising and operates similarly to other AdSense offerings in that they give you code to plug into your RSS feed. It’s pretty simple – you simply plug it in and forget about it. I used it for a while but found that the returns were so low that I swapped over to Feedburner and TLA’s Feedvertising. They don’t let you design the ads like other AdSense ads.
  • YPN – if you’re lucky enough to be a YPN beta tester you’ll have access to running their RSS ads in your feeds. I’ve not tested the service but am told it’s very similar to what AdSense offers. They have code ready to implement in WordPress or Movable Type which you insert into your feed with your publisher ID. The ad is served as an image (not as actual text) which is the way AdSense and pheedo work also. The whole image links back to the advertiser
  • Pheedo – offers 2 RSS advertising solutions – Pheedo Ads for Feeds (easy to implement – just cut and paste some code and you’re up and running) and Feedo Ads for Feeds+ (a full level service with analytics and customization of ads and campaigns). Pheedo keeps 35% of revenue generated – publishers get 65%.
  • Feedster – I can’t see much on their site at the moment about RSS advertising but they did announce a partnership with Adbrite a while back (although the links to the partnership site now forward on back to Feedster. Not sure if their ad network is active or they are just hiding it!

My experience is limited to the first three options. My results with AdSense were poor (although to give them credit I haven’t used them for a year now. Feedvertising and Feedburner’s options worked better for me – however particularly on my blogs with higher numbers of RSS subscribers (as with all forms of traffic is essential to make money from advertising).

Feel free to suggest other ad networks providing RSS advertising and share you experiences with them (or the above 6 networks).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Interesting however in order to monetize, a large audience is required.

  • It has occurred to me, in the past couple of days, that I’ve never clicked any ads embedded in the feeds I read. I tend to quickly scan through the content in my feed reader and click through to any posts that grab my interest. Then, if there is an ad that catches my attention, I click through from the post.

  • I haven’t really experimented with any form of RSS ads. This is because I suspect they don’t really generate much revenue and I prefer using the RSS feeds to gain traffic on blogs. Unlike giving all the info in RSS by providing full feeds which makes it more reasonable to put ads in them, I guess.

    It could be interesting to hear about what kind of CTR/revenue compared to subscribers some see with ads in RSS…

  • I’m a YPN beta tester. When I looked into their RSS option, I discovered that it does not work if you burn your feeds with FeedBurner. I’m sure there’s a way to hack around it, but what’s the point of doing that when most publishers make so little with RSS ads.

  • Feedvertising is working great for me. It’s got a big point in its favor. It gives the smaller sites the opportunity to get in on “institutional” advertising instead of pay per click, which doesn’t seem to work well in feeds. In offline advertising, there’s a lot of money in institutional advertising that’s more about brand building than the immediate sale. That model is well suited to feeds.

  • I generally stick to affiliate links in content, and sometimes tag some links on the end of each feed item, or have some items in feeds that are purely an advert.

    To benefit from content ending up on fed blogs, I make sure that posts start with lots of tag links, though I still have to do a little formatting for that on my new central blog.

    Then again, most of my blogs are niche websites outside blogging or internet marketing. The subscripion rate for those sites is horrible, both for RSS and email, but they are my highest earners. Many of them earn more per day than my wordpress plugins site (currently) earns per month.

  • Cary

    Ken, I successfully used Yahoo RSS ads with Feedburner for quite a while. Is there a new conflict of some sort?

  • text-link-ads.com also has an RSS feed program. Clicksor has an XML feed program (don’t know if that is the same thing and I don’t recommend clicksor)

    I’ll have to look into the other affiliates listed. Never even considered feed advertising.

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  • Cary, I have to admit I didn’t try to implement it. When I was looking over the instructions at Yahoo, they mentioned copying/pasting their code to certain files. I wasn’t sure if FeedBurner uses those same files since the WP plugin redirects the feed to FB. So I went to the FB site to find out. In the forum area, I found a q&a about Adsense RSS ads being supported but not Yahoo RSS ads.

  • In the absence of AdSense for Feeds and Y!PN being opened up, I’m using FeedFlares with modest results!

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  • Darren,
    Thanks for the mention of Pheedo. Much appreciated. A few additional facts about Pheedo:

    1. We our platform agnostic. We have way to hook into most blogging systems (Blogger, WP, MT, Typepad, Drupal, etc) including 3rd party feed analytics services. Our system is quite flexible.
    2. We have a self-service sign-up for publishers with any sized feed. Publisher can start earning money on day one. Once the feed is a certain size we make that available for advertisers to buy directly which typically means higher payouts to the publisher.

    I would be happy if you would give us a try.

    Thank you,
    Bill Flitter
    Founder, Pheedo.

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  • Low returns in an RSS feed is better than nothing, if your blog makes money only on ads.

    I’ve just started looking in to this for my websites. I am just starting out. I am finding success in that I am getting more feed access, but the nature of my website is such that unless I get people clicking on ads, I have to wonder if it is worth the effort and trouble to make a great website with content that takes time to produce?

    I need to get some sort of advantage out of RSS feed reeding. Maybe there is another way besides embedded ads?

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  • Check out FEEDJOURNAL.com. The RSS to PDF News paper format is easy to read with pictures. This application will kill the Adsense model.

    Now content providers will be able to monetize thier RSS feeds by including advertisements as RSS feeds WITH other Content feeds.

    A proven and elegant model.

    This way READERS can print only the RSS feeds they want and CONTENT PROVIDERS can generate a source of revenue through advertisments with thier RSS feeds.

    What a no brainer for Newspapers with RSS feeds!

    Check it out http://www.feedjournal.com