It was bound to happen, ads hitting the RSS feeds. It’s not even anything even remotely new, popular services such as Feedburner (pre-Google) offered advertising solutions for your feed, and does now too, thanks to Adsense. Other players in the feed sphere did it too, and don’t forget the publishers themselves – adding something at the end of the RSS feed isn’t even all that hard. And I’m not even mentioning the fact that if you put an ad in your blog post, it’ll go right along in your feed.
It makes sense. A lot of us like to read, or at least glance, stories in the feed reader. We might not visit some sites in weeks, despite being regular readers.
Enters the ads in the RSS feeds. Problem is, where there is plenty of opportunity to make it look splendid and great on a website, the feed doesn’t have the same possibilities. Which makes it ugly.
Three blogs stand out in my feed reader right now, all cramming their footers full with ads in their RSS feeds.
First there is ReadWriteWeb, featuring an Adsense text ad blockt and then two square ads underneath. Add some Twitter and other social stuff and you’ve got a respectable footer. Not very pretty, not very click-friendly to be honest.
However, I guess it works. Mashable has more or less an identical layout:
Finally, there’s TechCrunch, sporting an internal link, two banners, and then an Adsense text thingy. And a square ad. Cluttered and messy, not at all nice actually…
Now, I understand that you need to put advertisements in the RSS feed as well. Money talks, and all that. But since the format isn’t yet suitable for ads of this kind, why not be a little more subtle? I bet GigaOM sees more clicks on their promotional feed footers:
I know I’m more prone to at least look at that footer. And not having me looking at your footers means that I won’t be clicking any ads. Do the math.
And make the ads in your RSS feed look good.
Thord Daniel Hedengren is a designer, writer, and blogger, and also the former editor of The Blog Herald. He used to be a hotshot in the gaming industry in Sweden, but sold everything and went International. Most recently he wrote a book called Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, and does loads of kickass design.