HTC is beginning to display ads within BlinkFeed, the news reader app built into the home screen of its Android phones. HTC will eventually implement an option to disable the ads — BlinkFeed as a whole can already be turned off — but for now, people in the US, UK, China, Germany, and Taiwan should begin to see promotions displayed within the app's feed. The ads appear to be marked by a relatively hard to see "SPONSORED" tag that's displayed beneath an unnecessary drop shadow on their image. This launch is apparently just a "pilot," however, and HTC says that it may refine the delivery of ads depending on how effective they turn out to be.
The inclusion of ads in an app built into HTC phones by default is certainly going to be a bit of an annoyance for owners. It's easy to imagine that HTC would rather not have to include ads in BlinkFeed, but its business hasn't been doing so well: it's only narrowly been turning a profit for the last year, after a year of losses, so any revenue that BlinkFeed can bring in is a meaningful plus. HTC has previously expressed interest in opening up BlinkFeed to all Android phones, and it's possible that this move is a step toward monetizing the app as a standalone service. However, it doesn't look like non-HTC phones are able to install it yet — the Play Store is typically unhelpful on that matter — which means these ads may only be a nuisance to paying HTC customers.
Correction: BlinkFeed does not appear to currently be compatible with non-HTC phones; this article previously stated that it had been released for other devices.