The ad unit that works in RSS feeds, no plugin or widget required

Sponsor message: Jsavers offers journalists their own WordPress blog for $5 a month.

No, this blog post is not really sponsored. But you sure did notice my fictional sponsor, didn’t you?

I’ve been kicking around the idea of simple, human-placed text ads that could appear at the top of any (textual) blog post or article. This kind of ad would travel wherever RSS readers were used.

The idea seems plausible, but I’m no expert in this field, so I have many questions that I hope you can help answer:

  • Why shouldn’t blog posts include hand-placed textual advertisements?
  • Can humans do a better job than Google at determining contextually relevant ads to serve?
  • Who would match the ad to the content? Editorial or advertising staff?
  • Are consumers more likely to read sponsored messages that aren’t shoved into the right-hand side of a site?
  • Would an ad unit like this require ad-serving software?
  • What tools would need to be built to facilitate the quick research that human-placement would require?
  • Would this change the way editorial and advertising staff work together?
  • Would a sponsor’s message appear as an article’s summary in search engine result pages?
  • If the answer to the previous question is yes, would that decrease the article’s chance of being clicked?
  • What are the SEO/SEM implications for the content publisher? For the advertiser?

If you want to read more about ads in RSS feeds, Problogger has a good page of RSS advertising options and WATblog has a post all about RSS advertising.

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