I’ve just been accepted into the Feedburner Ad Network (FAN) program as a publisher.
With my moving to publishing full feeds you’ll now also see an ad at the bottom of each post in my RSS feed. These are CPM ads (ie I get paid per thousand impressions) and not CPC (cost per click) ones. I’m interested to see how they perform in comparison to the AdSense ads that I’ve previously shown in feeds with very little success. I found that with AdSense on the blogs I had that the ads struggled with relevancy but also that RSS readers are fairly unlikely to click them.
Feedburner’s Ad Network is not open to everyone at this stage but in a recent announcement on their blog they indicated that they are moving towards accepting more publishers. They are taking a fairly gentle and gradual approach to their expansion of the network which I know is frustrating some publishers who are waiting to be accepted – however in my limited experience of new networks this is a wise move as to accept everyone at once brings with it many problems.
My first impressions of the Feedburner Ad Network:
- Sign up is simple – if you’re already using Feedburner that is. This system only works if your feeds are run through them.
- Channels – publishers are assigned a ‘channel’ which will determine the type of ads that are offered to you. I’m in the Computing and Technology channel.
- Ad Numbers – it’s too early to comment on this yet but to this point I’ve been offered three campaigns (and have accepted all of them). Each campaign has at least two ads that will be rotated through my feeds. To this point the ads are not highly relevant to my topic and are fairly generic computer/software type ads. I really hope that they work hard at bringing in new advertisers to the network as I’m sure people will get sick of the same ads.
- Ad Settings – publishers don’t have heaps of control over how their ads appear. There is no control over ad design (apart from the ability to reject ads that you don’t like). The only control is over how often ads appear. Publishers can choose to show ads in every post in your feed or every 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th post. They can also choose to let a word count limiter that means ads don’t appear on shorter posts (ie you can set them to appear only in posts longer than 50 words, 100 words, 500 words or in posts of any length (I’ve chosen to show them in every post longer than 100 words at this point).
- Ad Approval is Built in – publishers are emailed when new campaigns become available and they get complete control over whether ads are accepted or not. If the publisher doesn’t respond within 48 hours ads are automatically approved.
- Reports – Once accepted into the program you find a new section in your Feedburner ‘Analyze’ page for ‘Ad Stats’ which gives you a couple of options to review your ad performance. It’s too early for me to see any results but the reports look pretty simple and clear. There is an ‘Ads Stats Dashboard’ which shows you an estimate of your earnings since last payment as well as a monthly history (by impression, clicks, CTR and Payment total for the month). They also allow you to view your results ‘By Date’ which looks like it will show a graph of earnings over the last month and will show you a total of your impressions for the month as well as clicks and CTR for the month. I’m unsure how often they update their reports – will update you on how they work when mine do for the first time.
- Auditing – Like most new ad networks there is a process by which your earnings are only estimates until the end of the month when they are assessed. Feedburner explains this by writing – ‘Actual payments may vary from estimated totals based on reconciliation and collection experience with the advertisers.’ This is a similar process to that of Chitika (something they’ve had a lot of criticism for) which I’ll be interested to watch over the coming months. I understand why they do it but it’s a potential ‘issue’ that they will face on a monthly basis if the estimates and actual payouts differ by too much. There’s also an option to view earnings per blog (or property) if you’re running ads on multiple feeds.
- Payment – This is a Net 90 Day period (quite long in comparison to what most other programs offer) and is via PayPal. The minimum earned before a payment is made is $25 according to their terms of service. I’ll let you know in three or four months how it works!
- Feedburner’s Share of Revenue – The split of revenue between Feedburner and publishers is 35% (to Feedburner) and 65% (to publishers).
- Support/Help - One thing I notice that seems to be missing is a help section for FAN. They do have support forums but to this point there is no section for the advertising network. The ‘welcome email’ that notifies publishers they are accepted is the only place I can see where information is given on how the system works and I’d suggest they at least replicate this on their site or better still develop a FAQ/Help page with more of the basics. It’s early days I know but things like this add real value to newbie publishers.
The success of the Feedburner Ad Network will largely depend on them getting the balance right between looking after Advertisers and Publishers. One of their biggest challenges in the early days will be finding enough Advertisers but once a decent inventory level is established I think the system has the basics of what could be a decent service to both sides of the equation.
Update: Just looking over the Feedburner Ad Network Terms of Service I notice a provision in the ‘payment’ section for 45 day payments for ‘Ads sourced by FeedBurner from Ad Partners’. I’m not exactly clear on what this means but it could indicate that they can set up specific advertising deals between you and an advertiser. If the people at Feedburner could clarify this (and they usually leave a comment on any post I write about them within minutes so I’m sure they will) that’d be great. This would be an attractive service especially if publishers had a way of promoting it with a ‘advertise in this feed’ type link.