Google Opens RSS Ads to Publishers

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2005-05-17 Print this article Print

Moving beyond an earlier pilot, Google starts a public beta of its program for placing sponsored links into syndication feeds.

NEW YORK—Google expanded its test program for RSS advertising to a broad set of publishers Tuesday as it seeks to gain an ad foothold in syndication feeds. During the Syndicate Conference here, a Google executive launched the public beta of AdSense for feeds. The program extends to RSS and Atom feeds the popular pay-per-click ads that appear on publisher Web sites in Googles AdSense network.
The RSS ad launch follows a pilot test that Google began last month.
By moving its sponsored listings into feeds, Google wants to remove a common fear among some publishers that they will lose advertising revenue as readers subscribe to feeds rather than reading content on Web sites, said Shuman Ghosemajumder, business product manager for AdSense. "What we would like to do is change that and have the monetization occur in the context of the feed itself," he said. Googles news comes as other online ad networks and search engines experiment with the model for incorporating paid links into what had started as an advertising-free medium. Among those is top competitor Yahoo Inc., which, so far, has conducted limited tests of placing ads in feeds. For its program, Google is displaying the text-based sponsored listings as images within individual posts in feed in order to make sure the ads are compatible with various formats of RSS and the hundreds of aggregators and news readers used to view feeds, Ghosemajumder said. To deliver the ads in feeds, Google is using the same contextual analysis technology its uses to display AdSense ads on sites, Ghosemajumder said. In fact, it is analyzing the full text of articles and posts from Web sites themselves in order to prevent only analyzing part of a post. Thats because different RSS feeds display posts differently. Some publishers syndicate the full text of posts, while others only provide excerpts. Click here to read about other ways Google is branching out sponsored listings. Attendees and panelists at the Syndicate Conference had mixed reactions to Googles entry into RSS advertising, though most agreed that it will likely spur more rapid adoption of advertising in feeds. "Googles ramping up is definitely in direct response to the fact that this medium is maturing," said Greg Gershman, the president and founder of Blogdigger, an RSS and blog search service. "I like the fact that it is giving an incentive to create better content by creating a revenue model." Next Page: Questioning the approach.

Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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