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Adding Ads to your RSS Feed

Published to Blog on 23 Mar 2007

Just a quick post before I go off to bed early tonight - the Cincinnati-Dayton Code Camp is tomorrow and I need to be there early to help setup.

This post follows along with my recent interest in web-based advertising.

I noticed a while back that FeedBurner is testing (and now offering) an advertising program and I assumed they meant adding ads to RSS feeds, since RSS feeds are what they do. I also found that Pheedo offers RSS feed ads - I signed up for a Pheedo account, but never got much further than that. Over the past few months I’ve noticed that ads are starting to show up more an more in it items in my RSS reader’s inbox. I’m not complaining, I know the web is currently running on advertising revenue.

In my quest to learn more about ads and ad systems, I wondered what it would take to implement ads in a feed. This evening I spent a couple of hours looking into it after seeing a post come in with an ad at the bottom that piqued my interest. Come to find out it’s not all that difficult. RSS feeds are just XML after all, right? And browsers and feed readers display XML and HTML just fine, right?

I won’t go into details yet, but here are a few screenshots to whet your appetite. The first is a shot of an RSS feed for the WhatIWantMost site; you’ll easily see the ad appended to each post:

The next screenshot is of my Outlook newsgator inbox, showing a different item with the same ad:

I just implemented one simple ad. It wouldn’t take a lot more work to randomly display different ads. 

The only limitation, I think, is that it is much easier if you use an ad system where you are provided with an image and a link, like Commission Junction and others offer, rather than a Javascript based ad like Google Adsense.  The link and image are easy enough to inject into the RSS feed. I’d be hard pressed to figure out a way to inject the javascript ad and make it work, though I’m sure it’s possible.

Additionally, the way I have implemented it makes it very easy to keep track of statistics: impressions and clickthroughs.

Hmmm, I wonder if I could implement ads in my Community Server RSS feeds on this site over the weekend? It would be a lot easier if I had that Ad Engine built already.

Dan Hounshell
Web geek, nerd, amateur maker. Likes: apis, node, motorcycles, sports, chickens, watches, food, Nashville, Savannah, Cincinnati and family.
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  • On 23 Mar 2007 "Bill Flitter"" said:
    Hi Dan, If you need help setting up Pheedo ads, please contact me. I will put you in touch with our implementation engineer. And BTW, you can put JavaScript code in your feed, however, it will not display in all news readers. Most news reader will strip it out. Thank you Bill Flitter Founder, Pheedo bill AT Pheedo Dot Com
  • On 23 Mar 2007 """ said:
    Bill, thanks for the offer! Wow, now that is what I call customer service!
  • On 24 Mar 2007 "Digging My Blog - Dan Hounshell"" said:
    A few days ago Jason Alexander posted that one of the founders of had responded to an email
  • On 25 Mar 2007 """ said:
    Pheedo and Feedburner are just trying to make a buck, can't blame them, but the ads are quite an annoyance to readers. You can use feedbite feed filters to remove them from your feeds. Click on the link above. It's free, no registration required.
  • On 26 Mar 2007 "Digging My Blog - Dan Hounshell"" said:
    In a post a few days ago I posed a rhetorical question as to whether I could get ads in my RSS feeds