Guidelines For Direct Marketing Through RSS

22 May 2005

Based on the ground rules of the netiquette and common sense, I think it’s about time to lay down some guidelines for the use of marketing techniques and advertising through RSS. Here goes.


After being contacted by an agency and agreeing to publish, it must be verified where the ads are leading to, what content the surfer gets served. The advertising companies should notify the publisher when changes will occur, with what interval, so the publisher can stay closely related to the extra content that is being added to his feed.

To prevent extreme situations in which a feed has become a generated catalog, it’s advised to publishers to not allow more than three ads per day, if your daily post count is between 10 and 20. I suggest different terms and conditions for syndicated feeds with higher numbers of posts.
Let’s say a maximum of one ad per 12 posts. That should keep both the readers and the advertizers happy.

As a publisher, you should put out a survey first to see how your audience will react to the appearance of ads in between their usual slices of information. Referring to the easyness by which users can unsubscribe, it would be wise to consider their syndication to your feed with respect and first poll the attitude towards your intended changes. Perhaps you could publish a test page that shows a preview, the way Google did with its sample of the Google Personal Homepage.

Because the readers of a feed feel the publisher alone is entirely responsible fot the content, you might consider negotiating with the ad-company itself about possible previews of the ads-to-appear, to verify their relevance. The publisher should have the right to decline publication of certain ads, if he feels they are violating the rules or values of the content they will relate to. Of course, the ad-provider should make sure the ad itself is relevant, because having to turn down too many ads will damage the relation between publisher and advertiser.


As already mentioned, you must make sure your content is at all times as much relevant as possible. Mistargeting your audience is a crucial error to make.

Feeds are short. So should your ads be. Do not include larger parts of descriptive sweettalks, stay to the core of the message.

Make sure the ad is cleary different from the offered content to make sure you do not mislead the readers, for this will only cause them to feel betrayed and this will result in massive unsibsribtions. You must at no point try to ’stealth’ the reader. Since your ad is to the point already, just come clean, it’ll be very much appreciated.


Take the time to set up an agreement you both feel comfortable with so there needs to be no re-negotiation when it comes to content filling or payments.

Make sure there is a reliable system that can track the Click-Through rate very specifically and base the payments either on the CT-system, or on a commissioned fee per effective order.

Make sure you are clear about ‘when a purchase has been made’ and ‘when the payment will be done’. Sometimes it takes weeks for cheques to arrive, so try to limit the ‘grey areas’ in the agreement.

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Posted by Miel Van Opstal in Advertising, Blogging, Ethics, Tips & Tricks


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