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Feedburner Ad Network – First Impression Review

HeaderlogoI’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.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. John says:

    **STOP DELETING MY COMMENTS!**….

    From Darren:

    I have deleted the rest of your comment John – your comments are being deleted because they are spammy!

    You are welcome to leave comments on my posts if they are relevant to the topic at hand.

    This is a post about feedburner and it’s ad network. If you have something to write about it I’d welcome your comments. You’ve left comments on a number of my posts – none of your comments have related to the topics of those posts. All of your comments are virtually the same.

    If you are promoting another product or site and have nothing of value to add to the topic then your comments will be deleted.

    Comments like ‘great article – visit this site because it’ll make you money’ are not value adding comments.

    If you leave comments on multiple posts that are ‘spammy’ you do nothing other than waste your time, my time and bring down the reputation of the site you’re trying to promote (which I have contacted to complain to about your activities).

    Bloggers have had long frustrating battles with comment spammers and have little patience for those who do it. You might genuinely not grasp the ettiquette of leaving comments on blogs and I’m willing to be patient and gracious to help you understand it – but it’s very difficult to do so when you don’t even leave a genuine email address.

    If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me via my contact form – I’d be happy to talk to you further.

    I’ve also outlined ProBlogger’s comment policy here.

  2. I’ve been very happy with Feedburner so far, and I’d be very interested in seeing how a CPM Ads for Feeds program shakes out. I guess it really depends on what the renumeration is like — but it’s certainly got my attention.

  3. Stuart says:

    You just have to have a warm spot in your heart for spammers – first they try to fill our blogs with their stinking spammy detritus and then they have the incredible affrontery to tell you not to delete their posts!

    Makes you wonder about their general level of intelligence – their IQ must be smaller than their hat size.

  4. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    Welcome back…

    Did Feedburner give any idea of a time-frame for the experiment? I have been using feedburner for over 6 months. I don’t have that many subscribers, but I would be very interested in using the service.

    Joe

  5. Martin says:

    nice info Darren, I’ll definitely try to participate in this program

  6. Rick Klau says:

    Hey Darren -

    I’m slipping, this is *hours* after your post. :) Apologies…

    Re: ad numbers, we’re working very hard at bringing more advertisers to the table. We have a full-time sales force who’s out meeting with agencies and advertisers every week, and this coming Monday we’ll be launching a self-serve interface for advertisers who want to buy ads by channel in FAN.

    We’re looking into configurable presentation on ad formats, I like your suggestion and we’ll keep you in the loop as we iterate there.

    We update the ad dashboard each night, which means you’ll always be able to see stats (impressions, clicks, estimated revenue) up to midnight of the prior day.

    Re: estimated payments and payment timeframes – you’re absolutely right that this is something publishers should pay attention to. Like any network, we’re estimating payments to account for lags in people paying their bills, etc. As we develop more history with known advertisers, our ability to close the gap in the payment window will increase – and while we’re being somewhat conservative with our estimated payment #s, our goal is to be as transparent as possible with our publishers regarding how much we’ll pay and when. (Self-serve ads – mentioned above – will also eliminate any payment gap, as the ads will be paid up front. So that’ll help too.)

    On the support front, we’re rolling out a forum for FAN and a more detailed FAQ so that the website reflects the contents of the email you got (with some additional info) – as things go forward, any thoughts on what needs to be in there is absolutely welcome.

    Finally, you asked about the provision in the TOS about the 45 day payment window for Ad Partners. In cases with third party ad networks that we may use from time to time, we will negotiate tighter payment windows with them which allow us to pay our publishers more quickly and reliably than we can with individual agencies. As for brokering deals for publishers directly (your comment towards the end), our intention right now is to sell by channel, not by individual feeds.

    If you want to have an ‘advertise here’ link in your feed, here’s a link to the FeedFlare that you can use:

    http://www.feedburner.com/fb/static/flareunits/adflare.xml

    Thanks again for using FeedBurner and the thoughtful analysis, and please keep in touch!

    –Rick

    —-
    Rick Klau
    VP, Business Development
    FeedBurner – http://www.feedburner.com
    [email protected]
    AIM/Y!/Skype: RickKlau
    office: 312.756.0022 x2012
    direct: 312.239-0727
    cell: 630.362.8911

  7. Vincent says:

    Sounds good, but I find it very strange that feedburner doesnt offer the standalone ads. Or am I missing something? Pheedo reported, and I can imagine, that standalone RSS ads are far more successful than inline ads.

  8. Darren Rowse says:

    Nice reply Rick – appreciate you taking the time out to answer those questions.

    Vincent – yes that was another question I had. I’ve heard that ads that are posts in and of themselves do much better.

    I’m not sure that I like them or would use them but they do perform from what people have told me.

  9. James says:

    Hi Darren, when you say in the beginning of your post that you had limited success with AdSense in your feed, what do you mean exactly? How were you able to show AdSense ads previously in RSS feeds? If you could clarify a bit, thank you.

  10. David says:

    I had been running Adsense for Feeds for several months, and just started using the Feedburner Ad Network at the beginning of this month (feel free to check out my feed to see the FAN ads in action). After a week, I dtched Adsens for Feeds altogether and moved all my RSS advertising to Feedburner. Without revealing specific numbers, I am doing much, much better with FAN over Adsense.

  11. simon says:

    Hello Darren,

    Any updates on your FAN experience??

    Kind regards,
    Simon

  12. Darren Rowse says:

    It’s going well Simon. Not staggering numbers in terms of income but I think I’m up to $150 since I started just under a month ago (that’s for ProBlogger’s earnings). Not bad I guess :-)

  13. simon says:

    Wow, nice money for something you don’t have to look at anymore and doesn’t invade your website design.

    And as usual you answer all your comments quit quick, tx.

  14. Darren Rowse says:

    not all of them Simon – I do try but some days it gets beyond me :-)

  15. chrish says:

    About how many subscribers do you need to have to be considered for FAN? Hundreds? thousands? hundreds of thousands?

  16. One thing I’d like to see is that FAN would support payment by methods other than paypal. Paypal is a real nuisance, and no one likes having to pay the fee’s.

    I hope they can switch out to doing direct deposit at some point.

  17. HairySwede says:

    Very… very late to this conversation. Not sure if I’ll get a response but… do you know if feedburner ad network is the same as the google adsense offered through feedburner? I am eligible for adsense through feedburner… but of course adsense is free to anyone so that’s not all that special. But I just wanted to find out if feedburner ad network is a different option that comes with an increase in subscribers and traffic.

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  2. [...] Feedburners ads are the ones you’ll see in my RSS feeds. My first impression review of FAN is still pretty accurate to how I’ve found the system. [...]

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