About ads in feeds

Those who subscribe (subscribed in some cases) to certain of the feeds I provide may have noticed that I have been experimenting a bit with AdSense for feeds. I wasn’t quite sure if I liked the idea or not, but wanted to at least give it a try.

After running ads in some of my feeds for a few weeks I have decided to remove them. The unsurprising outcome of my experiment is that for me, on this site, ads in feeds do not currently provide enough extra revenue to be worth it.

Ads in feeds may well work for a news site, or a site with more consumer oriented content. But for a site like this, which focuses on web standards and accessibility, there is not a lot to be made from that kind of ads. (And no, making money from ads is not why I have this site.)

So no more ads in my feeds, which is why the feeds have been updated again and your feed reader may display older posts as unread or updated. I apologise for that.

Posted on June 18, 2005 in Site news


  1. I noticed the same thing…Nobody clicks on them. I’ve not removed mine yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be soon. No use having ads that don’t work…

  2. June 18, 2005 by Jan Korbel

    Strange thing Roger, I have your feed subcribed for more than a half year and I did not mentioned that the ads were added, I see them now as something that was not there.

    I guess, our ability to sort out text that has supposedly no value for us, is greater and more unconscious than I thought.

  3. I don’t know what other feed readers do, but I have never noticed your ads. Mostly because I have set Opera to block external content in feeds (Or rather, I use Opera’s default setting, and have no plans to change)

  4. June 18, 2005 by Josh

    Well, you know, Google Adsense now does the CPM way of delivering ads. So, if you have a lot of subscribers to your feeds, you could make a hefty revenue by switching to this way of delivering ads.

    Just an idea ;)

  5. I’m glad you removed them - I found them particularly annoying, myself.

    I can understand the need for ads but I personally really hate them. I’ve always worked with people’s donations and similar methods instead, though I’ve never had to rely on ad- or donations-income to cover hosting costs or such. Big benefit from working at a webhost is that hosting’s free :D

  6. I have to say I do get annoyed by adverts appearing in my feeds I subscribe to. (I had a long rant about it in my blog not that long ago.)

    If it is a full post feed then a small add at the end can be seen as fair gain. However, I think it is a bit much putting ad’s in a summary only feed.

  7. I came to the same decision about adsense in general. Why would I be advertising cheap web design options on my blog? Who would want to pay for someone else to write their blog? While I can see targeted ads for a site could be great I didn’t think anything they put there overly relevant. So I sacked mr Google (in Donald Trump fashion).

    If Adsense advertised cool t-shirts, cds, video games, and tech goodies maybe the ads might get more clicks. Sell what people might actually want. Its the same with feeds.Why is someone reading your feed is the first question? Then ask - will that persona really want to buy what’s in that ad?

    I know some people make money out of it but I wasn’t one of them lol. So the advertiser got benefit of a billboard and I got zip.

  8. Its no better for the reader than comment spam, and nobody clicks on the links in comment spam…

  9. Roger: I must admit - I get a bit of ‘tunnel-vision’ when I go and read a new post, so I didn’t stop to look at the ads at all. I’m quite a selective web-user!

  10. Thank you :-);

  11. I haven’t even noticed the ads. Are you sure they were even working? How exactly were these ads added to the source?

    I have seen working google-ads in rss feeds from some sites though.

  12. June 19, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Yes, we subconsciously filter out ads and anything that looks like an ad. Especially the very web savvy kind of people that tend to visit sites like this. I also didn’t put them in all feeds. I think that is why several of you have missed them.

    The ads definitely show up in feed readers, at least in those I have checked with: NetNewsWire Lite, Safari, and Sage.

    Either way, no more ads in the feeds. But the ads on the site are staying.

  13. I’ve noticed the ads in the feed, but I didn’t like them, because you don’t offer any content in the feeds (only the titles). If people can read the whole article in their reader instead of opening always the real site, there would perhaps be more accepture to the feeds and also more clicks. Only titles => don’t like ads => no clicks Whole article => ads are ok => more clicks (Sorry for my not so very good English)

  14. June 19, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)
  15. Oh thanks a lot. I haven’t seen the different feeds. Have you changed them in the last time?

  16. June 20, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Yes, I added the full text feeds pretty recently.

  17. Would it be a great bother to provide the fulltext feeds as Atom as well? The all-posts-as-summaries one is available as Atom, but the others apparently are not.

  18. As soon as you offer so many feeds it is difficult to find the right one espacially for non-rss-pros. At SimpleBits, you can read an article about the problem (Feed Confusion).

  19. June 21, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    Aristotle: Not a great bother, but I’m going to sit down and think about the feed situation a bit first.

    Christoph: Yep. Expect the feed situation to be cleaned up.

  20. Well, here’s an argument: if your feeds were Atom, then remove the AdSense stuff would merely have marked all the entries as modified, not new.


  21. Sorry for being late to the party but…

    I noticed something the other day that might just be part of (if not most) the reason why ads in feeds are so low performing. AdSense’s cookie dependency will actually break ads/links for many common user setups (browser/aggregator choices).

    RSS Bandit handles my feeds, while Opera is my browser of choice. With this choice of applications, clicking AdSense ads in feeds only produces an error message. As the error message suggest that I enable cookies (or set IE as my default browser!), I’m guessing the actual problem is a missing cookie set when receiving the ad, which Opera obviously won’t have since RSS Bandit received it…

    Although I haven’t done any extensive testing on this issue, my guess is that this problem will appear when using different applications / rendering engine (/ cache) for browsing and aggregation. Something which probably is the scenario for many (if not most) users.

  22. June 29, 2005 by Roger Johansson (Author comment)

    John Magnus: Interesting. That sure sounds like a possible reason.

  23. I’m going to finish my experiment in the next days. For so little money it’s a nonsense to put that ads.

  24. The full posts feed is gone? :(

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