I recently started reading the RSS feeds from Infoworld, which contain advertising, my first experience with this. Some general impressions and a complaint, but I think this may be the future.
Actually, I’ve subscribed to IW since I started reading RSS, but somehow was signed up for a screenscraped version from some other site, so what really changed is I shifted to IW’s own much-better feeds, with the ads.
It’s Basically a Good Idea · Based on the lessons that Google’s been teaching us on how to advertise successfully, this feels like a winner to me. The ads aren’t in-your-face but the eye does visit them, and the potential for targeting is absolutely awesome. This is going to have to be used for specific-message ads rather than brand-building ads, because the whole point of RSS is to deliver short chunks of text super-efficiently, not bit-heavy combos of logotypes and positioning.
So I think I’m basically fine with this as a concept.
Cheating · The current Infoworld feed is cheating, though. The stories keep changing and coming up again in the aggregator, when all that’s changed is the ad. Also, they switch out the ad and switch another one in later, so I’ve been seeing amusing things like this:
“Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity,” goes the old saying, except for Chad and the guys at IW aren’t stupid at all. So let’s hope that this is just a bug, because if they’re going to switch the ads on their stories, someone’s going to have to set things up so the aggregator knows this isn’t a real change. Otherwise I unsubscribe.