The first ad I’ve yet seen in an syndicated feed, RSS or ATOM, brings up an interesting subject. It appeared just today (though I haven’t read the feed for a few days so who’s to say if it’s that recent) in a MacMerc feed, and was text only with a link. Presumably the site has simply added that info to their feed template, so it’s simple enough, but I imagine this is the start of what will be the norm for commercial sites in very short order.I had a conversation by email recently with the author of User Friendly over an image he’d been syndicating through a service that he didn’t approve of about just such a subject. The image was a bit of a visual F*ck You to readers who, for whatever reason, subscribed to the feed. Turns out, apparently this is an unauthorized version of his strip being scraped or otherwise pulled into feed format and sent out without his permission. His solution? Put up an image that accuses the user of wrongdoing. Now, I being the impulsive soul that I am sent a brief message suggesting that there might be a different way to look at this, and to his great credit, the author was actually open to a discussion.I had pulled the Tapestry feed in through a link from 0xDecaf ages ago, and not being a regular UserFriendly reader hadn’t even noticed for some time that the feed was bogus. When I did, I was startled, then annoyed – I hadn’t known, yet here the author was accusing me, not the feed service, of wrong doing. I don’t know if J.D. and Tapestry had discussed this at all – I’m guessing they did, but for whatever reason the feed is still out there, and still syndicating nothing, despite no benefit to either party. Weird.Regardless, J.D. wrote back with his take, which was what anyone would expect – it’s my work, how dare you question my motives, was the gist. I wrote back with my thoughts, and rather than take it for a troll he actually opened up a discussion. The end result was that we worked our way around to the idea that, were there a revenue stream to be had that could offset the bandwidth hit, he would certainly consider it. I recommended ads in the feed itself, not having actually seen them and of course, not being a developer myself, imagining that it was probably a snap to do :)Since then (at least, it came to my attention since then), it appears he’s started an ‘authorized’ feed of the strip, which is gratifying – I wouldn’t be reading it if it weren’t syndicated, so he’s gained a reader. But, it still doesn’t pay his bills or keep his publisher happy; ads might do just that however.When asked for details about the suggestion that he syndicate ads, I demurred, not knowing the details of such a project. I recommended he take a look at Atom, and referred him over to local guru and lightning rod extraordinaire Mark Pilgrim for questions. Mark’s pretty open in my limited experience, but who knows if Illiad ever actually did write him.Now that I’ve seen my first ad roll across the feeds, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly it catches on. I’m guessing it’ll be an exponential adoption rate and before long we’ll see Google Ads between entries. That begs the question though – can RSS handle that? It doesn’t appear to carry much more than simple text “ads” with links from where I’m sitting. Can Atom? I don’t know, but we’ll find out I suppose.Update: Now MacMinute is in on it. They’ve probably had theirs on for awhile too… but there seems to be a trend here. Feeds with ads much originate from urls that begin m-a-c… 🙂