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June 13, 2007 is a good service gone bad

I have blogged about RSS spam, and it has once again made its way to my aggregator.

I started using over a year ago, and I even gave it three plugs when I first discovered it. By way of background, lets you create an RSS feed for any web page and it'll send an item to your feed reader whenever a change is made to that page. It's a pretty slick idea and pretty well implemented. I use it to track newsletter archive pages and ASAE's press room. It's perfect for web pages that don't offer RSS feeds. Well... it was perfect. slowly began inserting a little bit of text advertising here and there over the past few months. The ads showed up as new feeds, and as text. No biggie. But now the advertising has gotten overwhelming. The signal to noise ratio has got to be at least 100:1 now. And the ads have gone beyond text to banners. Very intrusive and annoying.

I'm about to drop If anyone from FeedYes is reading, I'm using Bloglines, and the sites that I track post content once a week or less on average. Would it be possible to read the number of legitimate feeds coming through and get that advertising ratio down to 1:1? Or could the advertising be inserted in-line within the feed item? I realize that free services like FeedYes need a revenue model and that monetizing feed views is one of only a few ways this could be done in an RSS environment, but I'm feeling a little abused by your current monetization strategy.

Just to bring this a little closer to home, how much unwanted advertising does your association sling at its members? What's your signal to noise ratio? The definition of spam is changing. Many people consider unwanted email, regardless of any "existing business relationship" you might have with them to be spam. You probably won't get fined by FCC, but you are quite likely to get a bunch of unsubscribes.



Ed said...

Ben - I think you are being generous suggesting 1:1 ratio of content to spam. Or maybe you are saying one ad per one full page of content.

From my experience, completely unscientific, I'd bet 1.00:020 is about the max a reasonable person would tolerate. Meaning a 1 to 0.20 percent ration of content to crap (technical term).

On that note, CNN and other major news media still serve Pop Up ads. The kind that the browsers have integrated blockers in specifically to stop. If vendors have tools to block your medium; that is a bad sign.

My two cents from the association/advertising trenches.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Ed, true. I'm willing to put up with a higher ratio for this service. If there is something else with fewer distractions, I'll make the switch, but that costs me time. I can tolerate a little spam for this service.