As online marketers, we all strive to achieve a balance between revenue generation and maintaining the business objective. In short, some revenue channels are simply not suitable for every type of business model out there. More often than not, we have to run tests and measure which method works best and is most suitable. I recently had a chance to help a client explore advertising in their RSS feed. After 48 hours, I had no choice but to turn it off. The reason was simple. After turning on advertising from the Feedburner Ad Network (FAN), Feedburner stats reported a subscription drop of 40%!
Is the the 40% a result of too small a sampling size? In other words, losing 4 subscribers when you only have 10 is also a 40% drop. The feed in question had a lengthy history of upward trending subscribership. Prior to running ads, the feed averaged 1,250+ subscribers for the last 30 days and never once did it dip below 1,100. So the sudden 40% drop is definitely not due to a small sample size.
Could it be coincidence that almost half of the subscribers were actually not influenced by ads showing up in the feed and just happen to feel the need to unsubscribe at the same time that Feedburner Ad Network ads were turned on? It’s possible but I also think it’s highly unlikely due to the historical upward trend of subscribers.
One possible reason (at least one that I can think of) for this sudden dip in subscribers may be that, somehow, feed ads are causing the subscription numbers to be reported differently / incorrectly. Maybe ads are wreaking havoc with the stats? I know this is a stretch but it is still a possibility – one that is more probable than having almost half of your subscribers leave on the same day as when ads were turned on. As Sherlock Holmes says, “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.
Regardless of the cause, I was disappointed in the significant drop of subscribers and with feed advertising in general. So much so that I am now not even going to consider testing other feed advertising opportunities like Feedvertising from Text Link Ads – at least not anytime in the near future. Guess that just leaves more time to work on other revenue channels.
Anyone else experience a dip in subscribers after running ads in your feed?