Feedster Preps Paid RSS Links as Ads Expand

The blog search engine adds sponsored links into its syndication feeds for search results-one sign of the growing interest in RSS advertising.

Feedster Inc. is embracing RSS advertising with plans to add sponsored links into its feeds of search results.

The search engine for Weblogs and syndication feeds on Monday will announce an expansion of its advertising program that will include the use of contextual advertising from Kanoodle Inc. in its feeds.

When users conduct a search on Feedster, the site also gives them the option of subscribing to an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed of the results. The site already has about 250,000 feed subscriptions that generate more than 5 million pings a month, said Scott Rafer, Feedster president and CEO.

RSS is a format of XML syndication commonly used on blogs and other Web sites to distribute headlines and summaries of content as well as full postings. Users read the feeds in newsreader applications and Web-based feed aggregators.

San Francisco-based Feedsters expanded advertising move signals a growing interest in using RSS not only to promote a site but also to make money from feed content. Feedster also will sell its own sponsorships for some of the RSS feeds, while using the Kanoodle contextual pay-per-click ads for its nonsponsored search feeds, Rafer said.

Within the next three weeks, Feedster will start incorporating the sponsored links in its feeds. It will clearly label the ads, which will appear as every sixth headline in the RSS feeds, Rafer said. While it will start with the feeds generated from search results, Rafer said Feedster eventually will expand the ads to other feeds as well.

Users wanting ad-free feeds can pay a $10 annual fee and receive a Creative Commons license for noncommercial use of the feeds. Ten percent of the fee will be donated to tech nonprofit TechSoup.org.

"Were giving folks a choice between ad-supported and ad-free feeds," Rafer said. "Were announcing this ahead of time to telegraph what were doing to the community, because therell be a certain amount of satisfaction and dissatisfaction."

By pushing into RSS advertising, Feedster is joining a still-nascent field and is one of the first blog search engines to embrace it. Trade publishers and some blog sites, including eWEEK.com, have already begun incorporating advertising links within their syndication feeds.

A series of startup companies, such as RSSAds and Pheebo Inc., also are designing ad networks for blogs and syndication feeds. MessageCast Inc., whose LiveMessage service broadcasts opt-in marketing messages on real-time networks such as instant messaging and SMS, in July said it plans to expand the service to RSS.

Feedsters main competitor, blog search engine Technorati Inc., has added sponsored listings alongside its search results, but its top executive said it has no plans to extend those into its RSS feeds.

"We havent ruled it out, but at the same time were leaning right now against it in its current form, and there are a couple of big reasons why," said Technorati founder and CEO David Sifry.

/zimages/2/28571.gifClick here to read more about Technorati and its role in blogging at the Democratic National Convention.

Among them is the fact that users who subscribe to RSS often do so to escape intrusive forms of Web advertising, such as pop-up ads, and expect to receive the specific content for which they asked, Sifry said.

"It dilutes the power and the strength of the results, even if clearly marked," he said of RSS ads.

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