A lot of talk lately about how to make money off RSS. And well there should be, it’s more than half of most popular blogs’ traffic, and so far it’s avoided any pat approach to monetization. Scoble discusses the topic again over at his site, and points to a meme that I’ve been kicking around with a few folks, including Andrew over at Six Apart and some others. Scoble:
So, there’s the condundrum. How do we serve the “users” and the “branders” at the same time?
Simple: we need a new advertising model. Content providers should have a way to get paid for linking to things. Actually, Amazon.com is showing the way here. Its associates program is paying webloggers back for linking to Amazon. That’s an effective way to make money (note: I do not use affiliate programs on my blog — if I link to something I am not getting paid for doing so).
The problem is that there’s a large amount of money chasing a limited amount of content. So, there’s pressure on both the professionals to put ads on pages and force users to come to a Web page where an advertisement can be served, as well as on amateurs who need to find ways to pay their bills and get a little bit of cash out of the blogging hobby.
Who will win? Well, here’s the rub: users today have so many choices about where to get their content that they have a chance this time around.
The users are readers, the branders are advertisers and publishers (including some bloggers) who want you to come to their site instead of read full text in their RSS feeds. I think the affiliate model is interesting, and worthy of paying attention to. (Ross has posited a related “Cost Per Influence” but I don’t really understand it yet, though we promised to talk about it as soon as we can…) But we still need good ol’ fashioned ads in our RSS feeds if we are going to tap the market which is already in place to support content.
Earlier I pointed to RSSAds, but I’ve not heard anything new on this. And I know some companies, like Kanoodle or Industry Brains, are starting to support inserting ads into RSS feeds, but this can get irritating if not done with the reader in mind. And because most of these types of solutions are networks, sites can’t be bought individually, which breaks my endemic model.
In the end, I sense that readers will be fine with ads and RSs comingling. Jarvis has done some work on this, but we’re not there yet. Also, It’s interesting how the design, branding, and control which publishers are so used to having is lost through RSS, and it’s no wonder they refuse to allow anything more than headlines and excerpts out into the world. With RSS, at least in this early stage, it’s all about the voice. I rather like that. Kind of like radio before TV.
Over at Boing Boing, we’re thinking through this issue. I’d be interested in developments or further thoughts in this space, if anyone knows of any.