I was going to investigate Google’s AdSense For Feeds, because I’m keenly interested in economic models around self-publishing. But take a second and follow that link, there are a couple of seriously weird things going on. [Update: Another triumph for the blogosphere.]
How Many Subscribers? · First of all, they ask you to tell them how many unique subscribers per month you have. I think that basically nobody in the world knows the answer to this question. I have more experience reading server logfiles than 99.99% of the population, and I have only the vaguest idea.
Item: I have 2,860 Bloglines subscribers. Item: 26,295 different hosts fetched my RSS feed in the week ending 6:30 this morning. Item: 5,561 different hosts fetched my RSS feed since 6:30. So, I tell people I think I have around 10,000 subscribers; but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were 7,500 or 15,000.
I bet most feed publishers either just don’t know, or believe in a number produced by their ISP’s stats package which is almost certainly wrong.
What’s a Feed User? · For a real dose of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, check out the “Terms and Conditions” language. Uncharacteristically for Google, it’s a bad piece of legal drafting; you have to agree that “You will ensure that each feed user complies with, and each feed user’s display of AFF Ads is in compliance with, all of the terms and conditions of the amended Agreement applicable to the Site in the same manner that such terms and conditions apply to You and the Site.”
Huh? What’s a “feed user”? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t mean a person-or-program-reading-the-feed, but I’m also pretty sure that I don’t understand what it is they mean. And until I do, I’m damn well not going to sign up for “You agree you will be responsible and liable for any and all use of the AFF Ads by any feed user and will indemnify Google for any lawsuit or proceeding (a) relating to or arising from any feed user’s use of AFF; (b) relating to or arising from Your failure to ensure any feed user’s compliance with the terms of the amended Agreement; and/or (c) brought by a feed user against Google that arises from or is related to Your provision of AFF Ads to such feed user.”
So I’ll let others who are braver than I test the waters here. Now, if Google actually had actual real bloggers who, for example, were known to be working on AdSense, I could drop one of them a line to say “Hey, could you get Legal to debug that?”
Good News! · [Update: Hey, they do, and it’s Jason Shellen, whom I’ve met, and he’s listening. Good stuff; one more aboard the cluetrain.]