RSS Advertising on Blogs

At Chicago's Ad:Tech conference, it was reported that marketers indicated a deep ambivalence towards blogs, saying that their companies urgently want a blog presence but, at the same time, fear the consequences of letting consumers freely express their opinions.

This is not an unreasonable reaction. What right-thinking company wants their message running on a Web site where they can't know with certainty that the content won't be offensive or may even attack the advertiser's own brand?

Yet, wrote MediaPost, blogs also are seen as the wave of the future -- much the same as the Internet itself several years ago. "People look at blogs today and they say... I have to be in this space. How do I do it?" said Steve Curtin, vice president of e-marketing and search at Digital Grit.

Here are your choices: You can place ads directly on blogs that you have come to know and trust and have an audience that is attractive to your brand. You can restrict your ad messaging to your own corporate blog and link to enough other blogs that your message might be seen by someone clicking back through to your own blog. You can buy into a blog network. But if you do, make certain the network keeps track of their contributors and can tell if a blogger has a history of appropriate/inappropriate writing in great detail.



Alternatively, you can monitor blogs by using blog search engines like Feedster's and respond to other postings. This is a very tricky business since bloggers tend to react poorly to transparently "corporate" messages within the context of their content.

Or, you can advertise in RSS feeds. RSS feeds are summaries of stories from blogs and Web sites that update users as content changes. Users "subscribe" to feeds with a simple click, and access them through a reader. The reader (think of a browser) presents a sort of table of contents with all the updates included as a headline or a brief story summary. It can also contain advertising messages at the top of the content or placed anywhere in the summary listings.

This is fundamentally different from advertising directly on blogs. Your message is clearly intended and perceived as a marketing message, so you won't be seen as co-opting the blogsphere with commercialism. The user doesn't have to click through to the blog to see the ad, it's in his reader. Ads can be placed on RSS feeds that aggregate hundred of thousands of subscribers with common interests.

Look at the example from Click Z columnist David Rittenhouse:

"Let's say a technology company wants to reach software buyers with an offer for an improved productivity application. The advertiser selects the Internet as a strong channel to reach software buyers; he places ads on the main technology and software industry Web sites. But he also wants to reach early adopters and technology users in other ways... you can target users who enter your site via an RSS feed... This isn't targeting by content section (e.g., not in the business section). It's more like creating a new section for all users who have entered the site via RSS. The page's content could be international news, or business, or technology. It doesn't matter. Ads are matched to the pages based on the user's RSS use.

"Simply put, advertising works best when it connects marketers with the right audience," said Alyson Racer, group director, in Click Z. "RSS is one strategic way to reach out to early adopters, active news seekers, and Internet savvy users." Remember RSS users are subscribers. Although they don't pay for feeds, they won't opt-in for them unless they have a strong interest in the subject. So, targeting audiences via RSS vertical channels can be extremely cost effective.

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