I read this news just a few days ago, and it seems like old news, but it is a viable topic for discussion. Google is obviously big daddy here, but other companies have been putting ads in feeds for quite some time now. Should feeds contain advertising? Is it profitable? Viable? Who benfits?
Posted from eWeek.com (May 17, 2005):
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.
Over the past few years, everyone has come to expect seeing Google text ads hovering at the top or sides of almost every web page. The idea of contextual advertising is certainly not old, but new form of content delivery are now appearing, and new advertising models are needed as the Web evolves.
Scott Johnson of Feedster mentioned in a July 4th interview with InfoTalk that his RSS search engine would be incorporating ads into feeds. One of the best parts is that their brand of feed-vertising will scrape content from the entire archive of a feed, as opposed to just what is being displayed (i.e. tha last 10 posts). This allows them to give you truly targeted advertising, instead of just grabbing keywords.
The Feedster interview took place at the Gnomedex conference, shortly after Microsoft announced IE7 would have support for RSS, additionaly announcing RSS support would be built in to the Vista kernel and each user's profile. For advertisers, that is a fairly large announcement, considering Windows users will have such integral support to viewing feeds, and therefore being exposed to feed-based advertising at every turn.
The place I see this sort of advertising having the greatest effect is in a vertical search or regional search type application, such as my brother's Cable Ridge, where he wants to promote events specifically in South Florida. Placing ads in his RSS feeds for local businesses and services would really target the specific customer base that business is chasing after, therefore maximizing the effectiveness of their ads. On the other hand, of the millions of people subscribed to Slashdot or del.icio.us may be getting ads they don't neccesarily care about. I guess it is better than plain old contextual AdWords, though.
Keep watching your favorite feeds over the next few months. We'll talk about this more after it becomes common practice.
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