Wandering Thoughts archives

2006-04-13

An obnoxious RSS feed trick

I suppose it was inevitable, but the marketers have definitely arrived; the otherwise excellent In The Pipeline's syndication feed now has banner ads. Animated banner ads at that. I find this especially irritating because the feed is already a partial text feed, which means that I'm going to visit the website anyways (because I have to). Adding animated banner ads on top is just adding insult to injury.

I honestly don't know why marketers still keep doing this. Everyone with three brain cells to rub together has been reading about the declining banner ad clickthrough rates for years, partly because people hate them. There are surely good, useful ways to add advertising to syndication feeds waiting to be discovered by clever people. Animated banner ads that take up half of each entry are not one of them.

In this case, the only result the ads achieved was to get me to spend about three quarters of an hour figuring out how to block them. If In The Pipeline's content was any less interesting, I might have just stopped reading; I dare say that there are other readers (less stubborn or less attached) that already have.

(It would have been faster, but the embedded Mozilla bits that my liferea uses don't seem to use any of the usual things that the Mozilla engine has for blocking bad content. In the end I had to resort to 1997 technology in the form of /etc/hosts entries, although I'll be installing a Privoxy instance soon. One of the fun complications is that In The Pipeline's syndication feed is served through FeedBurner, which rewrites all of the URLs in entries, thereby neatly obfuscating where the images were really coming from. If anyone else is in the same situation, you want to block atdmt.com, or at least spd.atdmt.com, spe.atdmt.com, and mir.atdmt.com.)

Update: In The Pipeline has now not only removed the ads but has switched to a full text feed from a partial one. I'm very happy at this development.

tech/ObnoxiousFeedTrick written at 01:23:17; Add Comment


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