Is FeedBurner Pushing the Envelope on Trust?

I’m a big fan of FeedBurner and write about them often. I’m also a “pro” subscriber now and pay the $5/month for that service, which I think is more than fair given how much value they add.

I like having the insight into RSS analytics, and FeedBurner has never broken on me. I also consider many of the Feedburner guys friends. Even Dick Costolo, the CEO, has helped me personally with some issues in the past. In short, I support Feedburner.

Yesterday Feeburner announced some new features on the RSS Feed landing page that are designed to make the user experience a step better than before. The functionality includes storing user preferences for RSS subscriptions, a cleaner layout, and a preview feature for podcasts and videocasts. All good stuff. Frank Gruber writes about this on his blog as well in glowing terms, and in general I agree with him – these are nice features.

But…Wait. What’s this Advertisement?

In looking at the new feed landing page I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before. An advertisement.

It’s just a single line of text – “Download a Free Trial of FeedDemon 1.5”, with a link that begins a download of FeedDemon. I don’t know if it was there before or if this is a recent addition, but I don’t like it. This page should be all about getting new subscribers to the publisher’s feed, not generating revenue for Feedburner. And particularly if the publisher is a paying “pro” member.

It’s just one ad now, but this is a slippery slope. Publishers invest a lot when they decide to go with Feedburner – they turn their feed URL over to them and it’s not trivial to switch away. Feedburner, perhaps more than most web 2.0 companies, needs to be very careful with trust issues.