Would you Pay $1 for a Feed

Center Networks things it might be a good idea to charge for feeds:

What if blogs and journals offered a full feed for $1 per month with no ads, mobile access, etc. Would you subscribe for a buck? What I am proposing is the following forms of monetization: standard Web site with ads, partial feed with no ads, and a full feed with no ads for $1/month.

So many of the people I speak with daily subscribe to a ton of full feeds and never visit a site after picking up the feed. Some say that feeds strengthen the interactivity with a site because when they read the post, they are more likely to come to the site to comment. Sure, it’s easy to jam an advertisement into a feed, but what if there was another way to provide a revenue stream for a blogger to live off of and for the consumer to enjoy the media knowing they are supporting the content they enjoy?

This is an exceedingly complicated topic.

There’s really no yes or no answer here – I just want to make a few comments.

First. Ads in RSS. If you run ads in your RSS feed don’t expect to be raking in the cash. The CTR for feed ads is pathetically low. Why? They’re obviously ads and the community using RSS is very adverse to clicking on advertising.

Second. The people you ‘speak with daily’ are not representative of the vast majority of your users. I have about 1500 RSS subscribers but I think that I have about 10k additional users that come to my site via search, Digg, Tailrank, Reddit, etc.

Third. Maybe you could rephrase the question. Why not just charge flat out subscriptions. Other companies like Salon have experimented with this model.

Fouth. What about robots? Humans aren’t the only people reading your feeds. Robots (like Spinn3r) are used by search engines, analytics companies, etc. If you cut off robots from your full RSS you’re hurting your SEO and reducing your reach.

Fourth. What about hAtom? What about aggregators that don’t necessarily need RSS?

Fifth. Security. So I pay $1 for a feed. What happens when I add it to Google Reader or Bloglines? I suspect that there might be a bit of information leak and other users could accidentally search for and subscribe to the feed without realizing that they’re not paying.

Interesting proposal but it opens Pandora’s box on a number of issues.

Update: Josh chimes in noting that getting your users to pay anything is the biggest challenge.


  1. centernetworks

    Let’s not worry about the technology yet – let’s first figure out the idea- the tech part is easy :)

  2. buckpost

    Kevin,

    As a consumption tool, RSS is wonderful. As a way to make money, not so much given the issues you raise. I wrote a post recently about this conundrum: http://tinyurl.com/3yjjx9

  3. Ben

    I disagree about the CTR for Feed Ads unless you’re using Feedburner or AdSense Ads. Typically the CTR for video and banners in RSS Feeds placed about every 5 posts have ridiculously high CTR.






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