Ads in RSS – Thoughts

I notice more and more of the sites I’m reading via Bloglines are injecting ads into their RSS feeds. Some I’m fine with, others I do not like at all and am getting to the stage where I will hit the unsubscribe button. There are plenty of other sites out there now with good content. Gone are the days when content rich sites about niche topics were rare. The new world web is improving on depth and quality. It will be harder for sites to keep me there, one way to PFO me is to harass me with very disruptive ads.

[Apologies for the shit image quality, only noticed it after I uploaded.]

BoingBoing has ads which aren’t that bad, but I think this is because the average amount of text per post on the site allows a better view. If there were less text per post it would be awful as the same ad is repeated nonstop. I was getting peeved with the ads for A History of Violence of late. Guys, if you only have one ad, do you need to repeat it 20 times in one RSS river? Surely the one ad would suffice?


Engadget have ads too but they are text ads. They’re unobtrusive too. A nice “sponsored by” at the end of every post. Again though after reading it 20 times in one RSS river it becomes annoying but is less annoying than every other ad form I’ve seen out there, so far.


Coolhunting is another offender. It can quite piss off my eyes and brain when I see the same ad in the feed view every few centimeters. Added to that is the adbundance of photos that they use in every post, which when you ad image ads to the RSS river, you get a very busy, cluttered and confusing view. Text ads would work so much better in this case.


The worst offender right now is Slate Magazine. In fariness the posts are only summaries of the stories, not the stories themselves. The ads are bigger than the text most of the time! Awful.


So, what should be done with ads in RSS? Personally I don’t want to see them but that will never happen for a site owner that wants to make money. So, if they were to do them. I think there should be a few rules.

  • If you have only one image ad, then space it out to every 4 or 5 posts.
  • I’d prefer to see posts which have categories to have category “sponsored by” text ads.
  • If you insist on image ads then have some script that does a word count and if a post has less than x words, an ad does not get tacked on. If you have 3 short posts then you’d be allowed to tack on an ad then.
  • You could also do what Kevin Kelly does, reviews good meaningful products and link to them via an Amazon Associates link, one book review a day would work, or whatever frequency you do reviews. Just make sure they are genuine reviews of things you like.

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