September 15, 2005
This is two-day-old news by now, but in case you missed it, we just announced than we – Return Path – are partnering with Feedburner to take RSS advertising to the next level (coverage here, here, and here).
As you probably know if you receive my feed or other ones, Feedburner has been doing some experimenting with ad units at the bottom of feeds for months now, first using Amazon and more recently Google AdSense to serve up ads. And as you may know if you look at ads closely, neither of those services has done a great job making the ads truly relevant. I can’t tell you, for example, the number of times I write a posting about a book, and the ad has absolutely nothing to do with books, let alone the book or author I’m writing about. My favorite one was a posting Fred wrote called “Why a Conservative Turns Liberal,” with an ad called “Meet Conservative Singles” — probably not Fred’s intent, although it certainly brought a smile to my face.
Anyway, what we’re doing with Feedburner is very simple. Our Customer Acquisition Solutions group sells lead generation products to hundreds of advertisers each month in the form of either email list rental or web-based lead gen based on categories of interest expressed by consumers who sign up with our Postmaster Direct service. Feedburner has categorized a number of the 100,000+ feeds they publish as “Consumer Electronics” or “Computing and Technology,” which are two of the strongest categories we have, both in terms of consumers and in terms of advertisers.
So our salesforce is going to add “RSS” as an option for our advertisers in those categories, and we will work with Feedburner to insert demo-targeted ads into select feeds. We and Feedburner both acknowledge this is an experiment, but we’re very optimistic about the results: the demographics should line up perfectly and provide our advertisers with a new channel as part of their existing campaigns. I’m sure Dick or someone else at Feedburner will blog about it as well at some point, and if we learn anything truly interesting after the first few months, we’ll let the world know!