Building Critical Mass for RSS Advertising

Feed management firm FeedBurner is expected to take the wraps off a new RSS ad network today, which it’s been quietly testing for around nine months.

Separately, Feedster, which operates its own RSS ad network, is to announce a self-service capability which will allow more publishers to join.

Like Feedster, FeedBurner will let advertisers buy ads in a variety of categories. The new network will let advertisers choose among business, technology, current affairs, consumer electronics, entertainment and digital culture targets. Feedburner Vice President of Business Development Brent Hill says the company decided to go public with its initiative now that it’s “reached critical mass.”

Feedburner’s technology channel allows advertisers to reach 150,000 subscribers and the business channel contains 100,000 subscribers. But the company doesn’t de-duplicate between feeds, so the same subscriber could be counted more than once, Hill said.

Publications in the new network include the online properties of SmartMoney and IDG publications PC World, CIO, Computerworld and CMO. Blog networks Corante, Ars Technica and Gawker Media are also participating. Other publishers include Jeff Jarvis’ BuzzMachine blog; the Daily Kos and Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo and TPMCafe.

The company says it’s interested in adding new publishers that have more than 500 subscribers. It splits advertising revenue with the network members with the percentages based upon how many items are published and the number of feeds represented. Publishers have the option of deciding how frequently ads appear and whether to run particular campaigns.

Ads are being sold on a CPM basis, with pricing between $4 to $7 per-thousand impressions. Initially, creative will be limited to four lines of text of around 190 characters. But the company says it’s considering allowing graphic ads eventually.

“We’ve had some interest from advertisers who want to do display advertising,” said Hill. “But first we want to build acceptance and make it consistent with the media which is text oriented right now.”

Feedburner’s business development staff, which numbers about five people, will sell the ads. “You’ll see us expand that part of our organization to reach more advertisers and more agencies over time,” said Hill.

So far, the company says it’s run campaigns from advertisers in a number of categories: technology; communications and wireless; consumer products; media and entertainment, retail and automotive.

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