I see that one of my favourite blogs, Signal vs. Noise is piloting text ads in their RSS feed. So far this is going over like a lead balloon, judging from the 120 comments posted after their announcement. Very few of the comments were positive — indeed a number were taken aback that 37 signals would have the audacity to pollute their RSS feed with advertising. But hey! that’s capitalism for you. Anything that can be advertised on will be. I remember reading in the book The Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson how, in the future, rich-media (animated) ads will even appear on the chopsticks you are eating with. I can actually see that happening some day. (sigh…) If you are wondering what my opinion is on RSS advertising — personally, I hate it. Rolling out this “enhancement” to RSS now could very well hobble RSS’s ability to go viral and to replace email marketing as the preferred permission-based spam-free newsletter content delivery module. I hope that website owners will exercise due constraint in interjecting advertising messages into their RSS feeds.
RSS advertising is starting to take hold in large part to a partnership between Overture and Feedburner, with Overture supplying the ads and Feedburner providing the distribution channel. John Batelle appears to be quite positive about this evolution of RSS, but I remain skeptical.
UPDATE: Signal vs. Noise has pulled the ads from their RSS feed.