RSS Advertising

In this new age of advertising accountability, ad agencies are in a difficult spot. They have reams of data showing how various traditional and offline media perform for advertisers. And so, with some degree of accuracy media buyers can predict how a campaign will perform (though they acknowledge that the quality of the creative can have a profound and unknowable impact on the performance).

Meanwhile, the action is heating up online where advertisers get a more precise, more immediate measure of how their ads perform--and with paid-search ads, they only pay when the ads perform. Media consumption is falling for most offline media and growing by leaps and bounds online.

There is safety in the familiar, but no one wants to be last to the party. Marketers are faced with pressure to explore the newest forms of technology-based advertising to reach target audiences with less waste and greater efficiency. According to a Forrester Research survey in March 2005, 64 percent of marketers expressed interest in advertising on blogs and about 57 percent of marketers said they were interested in RSS advertising.



There are more than 11 million blogs in existence, according to industry sources, and an estimated 50,000 new blogs are created every day. The audience for each blog can be vast and far reaching, or just a small circle of friends and family.

While we are in the very early stages of collective demographic data about blog readers, The New York Times recently wrote that ad agencies report that RSS feeds tend to attract young and wealthy consumers.

RSS offers a wide and varying audience. While there may be a good deal of random surfing of blogs and Web sites by users, users who have opted in to particular feeds have clearly expressed an interest in wanting to see updated information as soon as it is published. This is the same principle that is driving behavioral targeting.

There are a few ways to reach this growing audience. One is to contract directly with the blogger or Web publisher for ads to appear on a particular site. Additionally, there are networks of blogs where a single purchase buys space on numerous blogs. For example, advertisers can insert an ad in just technology RSS feeds, or travel feeds, or cooking feeds, etc. Doing so assures a very high audience composition.

RSS advertising is not blog watching, which uses new technology to analyze blogs and other user-generated media such as chat groups, message boards, and electronic forums. Users of blog-watching services can choose to see headlines or brief summaries of feed post content, which means that in some cases, ads placed contextually only will be seen if the user clicks through to the story. With feed advertising, the ad appears within the list of feed posts so it has a nearly 100 percent chance of being seen by the user.

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