The great thing about ads in your RSS feed is that all people and services that read the feed – such as your email subscription service – will also get the ads as well. Every downstream consumer of your RSS feed gets the chance to display your ads and help you monetize your audience. Neat!
Using FeedBlitz’s RSS Ad Network
FeedBlitz’s RSS ad network, which according to some publishers is paying out roughly 2x to 3x more than Google’s defunct AdSense for Feeds equivalent, is configured on the RSS Settings page for your FeedBlitz RSS feed. Expanding the “Monetization” section gives you the chance to enable or disable the ads, and control how often they appear in the RSS feed itself. If you have a typical length feed – 10 posts – you will probably be OK with ads appearing every post, or every other post. If your feed is longer, the number of ads might start to overwhelm your subscribers, so consider a larger spacing between them.
The positioning of ads is an interesting item to consider. Above the post will be the most effective but your subscribers might think it a little too pushy. “After the post” might hurt revenues, as you really don’t want your ads to appear “below the fold” where a user has to scroll to see them.
The “first paragraph” choice works well by placing the ad within your copy. This makes it appear as the user is reading your post, and so is much less easy to ignore. These ads generally perform the best, relatively speaking.
The exception to this rule is if the first or second thing in your post is typically an image (e.g. coupon and deal bloggers often have product images at the top of the post). Placing an ad immediately after or immediately before a product pack shot makes the feed look very busy, image-wise, and detracts from general readability. If you turn your readers off with the ads in the feed then they’ll be unhappy and start to leave, which is obviously a bad thing.
Bottom line: add the ads, see how you feel about how they look, test over a good length of time to evaluate how they perform, and then change a setting – and test again. Over time you should be able to optimize for best performance.
Adding your Own Ads to your RSS Feed
If you don’t like the FeedBlitz ads, or you have an opportunity to augment or replace them, you can always add your own to the feed. These can be a sponsorship you’ve sold, for example, or an affiliate link, or a house ad promoting your own work.
You insert your custom code via the “Custom Footer” section of the “Per-Post Customization” section of your RSS feed’s settings. Simply enter the HTML for the campaign, and save. If you’re adding third party code, remember that RSS feed readers typically won’t display script, flash or other “active” technologies, so you must only use static images, links and text as your promotion. Once you’ve added your footer code, don’t forget to test it to see how it looks.
No ad? No problem. You can always use the custom footer feature to insert something like copyright information with every post, for example.
There is one downside of using the Custom Footer compared to FeedBlitz’s own ad engine: the Custom Footer always appears after each and every post. There’s no way to make it skip posts, like the FeedBlitz ad service can. So your sponsorship could get a little overwhelming if more than one item is being viewed at a time.
Note that you can mix your own sponsorships (via the custom footer) and the FeedBlitz Ad Network in the same feed. Just check that you don’t cross the taste boundary when you ad multiple revenue generation sources to your content. And test, test, test to see what combination of factors work best for you and your audience.
RSS and Email Ads
FeedBlitz has another couple of monetization options, available for publishers using our email services as well as / instead of our RSS options. You can read more about our email monetization options, how they interact with FeedBlitz’s RSS ad program, and more in a later post in the “Making the Most of FeedBlitz” series – or you can download the e-book by clicking here, or on the image above.