I got a flurry of calls on Friday from our readers because Newsgator suddenly–and without permission–put ads against our blogs in their RSS readers. Our full-feeds are published for individual, non-commercial use only. We have been very clear with everyone–from Yahoo to AOL to Newsgator–that we do not allow ads against our full feeds.
Now, the folks at Newsgator are all good people who I consider friends. I called them up and they were nice enough to step out of their board meeting on Friday to let me know it was technical mistake. I take them on their word, and the fact that they immediately pulled back the changes is good enough for me.
To be very clear with everyone in the industry: WE DO NOT ALLOW ADVERTISING AGAINST OUR *FULL* RSS FEEDS. If you want to put ads against our feeds you *must* use the headline feeds and no more than the first 100 characters of the post.
When someone does put ads against our full feeds we:
- a) start up the legal machine
- b) block the site from loading our full feeds and replace those feeds with one that tells users which RSS readers we support (i.e. the ones that don’t violate our copyright).
- c) report them for violating the Google Adsense, Tribal Fusion, etc. terms of service which prohibits people from putting ads against content they do not own.
If RSS reader companies want to make this a showdown we will simply:
- a) pull our full feeds from your services
- b) create a private labeled RSS reader that we own and only allow our full feeds in it and compete with you
- c) work with the other large publishers to support the private labeled readers
Let me be clear to RSS reader companies: You have no right to make money off of our full-feeds. None. Any advertising against our full content is ours and it belongs to our bloggers and shareholders. If you want to make money off our full feeds you need to cut a deal with us–it’s called syndication and folks have been doing it for a long time.
THERE IS NO BACK DOOR WAY TO ADVERTISE AGAINST OUR CONTENT–I DON’T CARE IF YOU CALL IT RSS OR IF YOU DON’T HAVE A WAY TO MAKE MONEY OFF YOUR RSS READER! That is your problem to solve not ours.
I’ve been talking to Newsgator and many other RSS readers for years BEGGING one of them to do a deal with us to split revenue in our full feeds but no one with critical mass has stepped up to the plate. If someone with an RSS reader at scale wants to do a deal with us I have a very simple solution:
a) We will take the leader board on the top of our feeds and give you our ad code for it.
b) We will let you have the skyscraper below the fold.
That gives you about 20-30% of the revenue for the pages. That’s far in my books. If you want this deal it needs to be done with a contract–don’t go doing it on your own now.
This is a very serious issue and we are going to fight to protect our bloggers and their content. Period, end of story.