Matt Hicks reports that Feedster is adding contextual ad words to its feeds. Contextualization at a microscopic level for people searching (not browsing) should be an attractive property for advertisers, but it depends upon how its introduced to subscribers.
"We're giving folks a choice between ad-supported and ad-free feeds," Rafer said. "We're announcing this ahead of time to telegraph what we're doing to the community, because there'll be a certain amount of satisfaction and dissatisfaction."
The community reaction will definitely be interesting. Sifry notes that many prefer RSS today over ad congested mediums and Technorati is proceeding cautiously: "It dilutes the power and the strength of the results, even if clearly marked."
Commercialization is especially painful when people have a sense of ownership of the, uh, medium (Doc, please boil the alternative term down to one generic word). On the other hand, somehow knowing publishers personally may invoke some support for making a living off of doing what they love. Regardless, it should be seen as inevitable:
"If you're some kind of purist and think that advertising doesn't belong in Internet media, get over yourself or pay for it," said Bruner, president of Executive Summary Consulting, in New York. "It makes no sense that RSS should not be monetized, particularly if you're subscribing to RSS from a Web site that already has advertising on it."
Steve Rubel posts:
I bet within a year ads in RSS feeds will be commonplace. Why? It's measurable and it's one more medium that online marketers will use to establish direct relationship with consumers.
I wish it was as measurable as Steve says, but he is right about the feedback loop being fostered. My hope is that the pull model of RSS and abundant choice will prevent ad saturation:
And RSS has a clear user advantages over other media for online advertising, particularly e-mail, said Ross Mayfield, CEO of enterprise wiki software company Socialtext Inc. and an avid blogger. Users ultimately will decide whether or not they will accept a given level of paid links and messages interspersed in their feeds.
"Because it's RSS, if people don't like it, they can click unsubscribe," he said. "What people consume is under the control of the consumer."
Of course, as regular readers know, initial forays into RSS advertising will be undervalued because of the format and metrics.