Subscription feeds are designed so that subscription fees are charged for unique quality content. Publishers include teaser copy in the RSS feed and readers have to purchase a subscription to see the content in its entirety. The New York Times was the first to introduce the subscription model. Initially the NY Times faced some resentment from users who had become accustom to free RSS based content, but ultimately consumers realize that businesses must achieve profits in order to continue.
The greater the value of the content contained in the feed and the uniqueness of the content will determine the success of subscription based feeds. Simply put, if readers can obtain the same quality and quantity of content from an alternative free source they will. Not unlike magazines, if the content the publisher is providing is unique and valuable, the subscription model will flourish.
The web has undergone a number of revisions to online advertising models. Banner ads, once an effective way to generate valuable leads are screened or filtered by most novice users. Text ads have become common place and are far less effective than they once were, advertising in RSS feeds was a natural step for online advertisers.
Contextual advertisements or advertisements that relate to the webpage or RSS feed's content, achieve the highest rate of success. As a result both advertisers and content providers should critically evaluate advertisement placement systems to determine which system produces the highest relevance in contextually based advertisements.
Google AdSense provides contextually relevant ads while Pheedo provides related category feeds. Publishers need to determine which model will produce advertisements that are relevant to the RSS feed's content and actionable by feed readers.
Other hybrid alternatives for profiting from RSS feeds include optionally giving subscribers the choice. A small fee for many might give subscribers the option to pay for the feed ad-free or view advertisements in the feed. The business model is reminiscent of adware in its infancy where users could use software for an unlimited amount of time. The software had imbedded advertisements and publishers were compensated for ad impressions or click-throughs. If users preferred an ad free version of the software they could purchase a registered copy that would remove the imbedded advertisements. More on Advertising in Feeds with a comparison of ad serving technologies.
Advertising online is constantly evolving. Both content publishers and advertisers are adapting and evaluating new advertising models. RSS feed subscriptions and advertising are merely a step in the evolution of online advertising. Knowing your audience will help publishers determine the most effective model for profiting from content contained in an RSS feed.
Publishers are evaluating options and determining how they can profit from RSS feeds. The two obvious contender publishers who are considering to profit from their RSS feeds are: subscription RSS feeds and RSS feed advertisements.