Yahoo Publisher Network has its own blog now, and I like watching it to keep up with what is sure to be a big year for Yahoo as it rolls out a more full throated response to AdSense. And most of you know I’m also pretty interested in new ad models generally, and RSS specifically. So this headline on the new site: “So What’s All This About Ads in RSS” certainly caught my eye.
The post explains the basics of RSS, and how folks who publish feeds can make some extra revenue by adding Yahoo RSS ads (YPN text links for now) into their feeds. The post explains how RSS readers work, using examples like NewsGator, Bloglines, SharpReader, Firefox’s Live Bookmarks and others. These are all full text readers, so Yahoo’s RSS ads will show up in them (they appear at the end of a post).
But the problem is this: One of the largest RSS readers in the world is My Yahoo. In fact, in the post, Yahoo promotes it’s “Add to My Yahoo!” RSS feature as a great way for a publisher to promote their RSS feeds. Yet My Yahoo’s implementation of RSS is crippled: It only pulls headlines and snippets. It strips out URLs and ads. In other words, it won’t show the very ads that Yahoo is promoting (or any others, for that matter).
The post, therefore, is pretty much a contradiction in terms. On the one hand, it says you should add YPN advertisements to your feeds – they’ll show up in full text feed readers (in other words, the places Yahoo does not control). On the other hand, it encourages the use of the My Yahoo RSS reader, where those very ads will never show up (and they don’t need to, because Yahoo will show their own ads around My Yahoo).
I don’t think you can have it both ways. I use both FeedBurner and FM ads for FM’s feeds. Hence, they don’t show up in MyYahoo. This is not a new issue – the question of who makes money off other folks content is a big one. For now, the industry has settled into a quid pro quo of “headlines and snippets for clickthru traffic”. But readers don’t care about that. They want their content where they want it, and if it’s inside MyYahoo, great. Just deliver ALL the content, including the ads. I’ve brought this up with the good folks there. They understand the issue, but for now anyway, they aren’t going to change their model. I think they should.