The Desktop Aggregator is Dying...
Jason Kottke asks the authors of several desktop news aggregators whether they will include support for ad blocking in their software.
All authors give some opinion along the lines that they won't, because they feel that developing features to make content more relevant to you is more important than writing a feature to block ads. And, as Nick Bradbury (author of the excellent FeedDemon) explains, most ads will naturally hold less relevance than site-published content for most users, so over time ads will organically become less visible.
What is interesting about this whole discussion is that it may be moot very soon.
With Yahoo acting as the gorilla of all web-based aggregators, and with both Microsoft's Longhorn and Apple's Tiger supporting pseudo-native RSS aggregation, desktop clients will be left to the geeks... and geeks are never an accurate sample when thinking through technology adoption issues. In situations like these, I am always reminded of my entrepreneur buddy Brian, who is fond of saying:
People care more about the brand of garbage bag they use than the browser they use.
That analogy holds up well here--while it's interesting to hear what Nick et. al. think about the future of RSS advertising, ultimately it matters whether Yahoo, Longhorn, and Tiger support ad blocking in their aggregators. For what it's worth, Yahoo currently strips ads out of the feeds you choose to display on your my.yahoo page, and then serves its own ads against the content.
Is that the beginning of a trend? No idea. But with MSN getting into Desktop Search, what would stop Microsoft from stripping ads out of feeds, and running its own contextual ads against the content on your harddrive and the content in your aggregator pane? Or Apple running ads for iPods on Engadget stories about the latest iRiver MP3 player?
Sure, geeks will be outraged and will likely develop hacks to block these ads. But it doesn't matter, because the majority of people aren't geeks. They just want their daily dose of news and will take the shortest path to get it, even if it means using an "evil" aggregator.
By the way, Jeremy Zawodny teases us with a link to Kottke's post, but no analysis. Come on, Jeremey!