I’m getting all nerdy today. Over at Kottke.org yesterday, a post regarding RSS advertising appeared and the comments started to fly in. It’s a pretty fascinating discussion on what has started to develop into a full blown issue. Maybe not a controversy yet, but an issue. Check out some of the reader comments.
For those unfamiliar with RSS, think of it as a central place (in this case, a software program) to collect all the things you are interested in online. For example, almost every day for work I used to visit all the blogs I could which were related to search engines and search engine news. Now if any of those blogs get updated, the blog post automatically appears in my RSS software and I can read it right from there. No more going to a thousand different websites to check for updates. It’s kinda like the U.S. Mail, except you direct the postal service to deliver only what you want to see. Hope I explained that okay.
Anyway, I’m torn on the issue of advertising in my RSS software. On one hand, I love the RSS service (I use the fantastic Bloglines), but the Bloglines of the world aren’t making money just delivering me blog updates. They need to monetize it somehow. Hello, advertising. Although I’ve yet to experience it in Bloglines, in addition to receiving the content you’ve set up to receive, you might get another line item which contains advertising. Many people in that Kottke post I linked to above are adamantly against this and I’m not sure I agree with them.
I mean, pop-ups are incredibly annoying. Banner ads? I’m convinced 95% of the surfers out there have just mentally programmed themselves by now to ignore them. I know I have. I’ve even started to hear rumblings out there about sponsored links – I have mentioned before that I believe at some point people will be mentally blocking those, albeit probably not at the level of banner ads. Time will tell on that end. For now, Google can keep their Grateful Dead chef, though.
So how is this RSS advertising any different than your U.S. mail, to close the loop? It’s not. In fact, one could argue it’s an even better form of junk mail than what you get in your physical mailbox. If you’ve subcribed via RSS to any travel weblogs focused on Paris, wouldn’t you be a little more accepting of an RSS ad (or any ad, for that matter) which offers you a deal on a Paris hotel? Maybe. Seems reasonable. But the second I get a Viagra ad in my RSS reader – forget it.
It’ll be interesting to see how this shakes out as blogging/RSS keeps growing.