During a question-and-answer session at the Web 2.0 conference, Yahoo chief operating officer Dan Rosensweig said the company plans to offer advertising for the RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds that are growing in popularity among Webloggers, news sites and other Web publishers.
Rosensweig disclosed the RSS ad plans after being asked whether Yahoos Overture Services division is working to extend its sponsored links to news feeds.
"Absolutely," Rosensweig answered. "Were in the advertising business and in the business of creating incremental value."
He didnt discuss any details about when or how Overture would make RSS ads available.
Overture and Google Inc.s AdWords program are the two most-dominant sponsored-links networks. Based on advertiser bids for keywords and other factors, they return ads alongside search results or on publishers content pages. Advertisers then pay based on the number of clicks on their sponsored links.
So far, though, only smaller player Kanoodle Inc. has formally introduced an advertising program for RSS feeds, and the number of feed publishers using ads has only just begun to grow.
In August, Feedster, a blog and RSS search engine, added Kanoodles text ads as posts to the RSS feeds it publishes. News-aggregation service Moreover Technologies Inc. a few weeks ago also included Kanoodle ads with its free RSS feeds of popular news categories.
Earlier this week, news search engine Topix.net Inc. began including its first advertising in its RSS feeds of search results. Topix.net developed a monthlong campaign with Overstock.com to include a post labeled as advertising within some of its feeds, said Chris Tolles, vice president of marketing at Topix.net.
Tolles, attending the Web 2.0 conference this week, was the one who asked Rosensweig about RSS advertising. He said Topix.net and other online services are looking toward the major, pay-per-click ad networks for a way to earn revenue from their RSS feeds as theyve already been doing through sponsored links on their Web sites.
"This would be a huge win for our industry," Tolles said of Yahoos plans. "At Topix, we have gone from less than 1 percent to 20 percent of our story clicks coming from RSS feeds. Being able to monetize that could be critical to our network."
RSS advertising isnt without its critics. Some of the earliest proponents of RSS—such as a co-author of the format, Dave Winer—have raised concerns that advertising will diminish its value as a way for users to subscribe and directly receive information that is relevant to them.
Yahoos embrace of RSS for its Overture ads follows its deeper integration last week of RSS feeds into its My Yahoo personal home-page service. My Yahoo users can search for, subscribe to and read RSS and Atom feeds on the service.