May 18, 2005 11:11 AM PDT

Google jumps on RSS ads

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Google has begun selling advertisements for Web publishers' syndicated news feeds, in an attempt to lead a developing and untested market.

As previously reported, the search company has been quietly testing a service that pairs text or graphical ads from its Google AdSense network with feeds formatted in the syndication standards RSS (Really Simple Syndication) or Atom. This week, the company said it has introduced a beta program for all Web publishers.

Google is increasingly applying more flexibility to its advertising programs, which generated more than $1 billion, or 99 percent of the company's revenue, in the first three months of 2005. For example, it recently sanctioned animated ads to run on its publisher network, in a reverse of its longtime, text-only ads policy. It also has begun allowing advertisers to choose on which publisher sites their ads appear, granting freedom marketers have wanted.

The diversification comes as independent publishing and content syndication is exploding. New services for blog publishing and news aggregation are both fueling and meeting Web surfers' growing appetite to consume headlines, entertainment, video and generic content in alternate forms.

Simultaneously, the online advertising market is healthy again, growing 33 percent last year to $9.6 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. And as competition for advertising dollars intensifies, Google is jockeying to stay ahead of rivals in new markets.

Others, including Yahoo Search Marketing and Kanoodle, are experimenting with RSS advertising.

Google's AdSense for Feeds lets publishers sign up to display text or banner ads at the bottom of syndicated headlines or content feeds. Publishers must insert a few lines of code to display the ads, and when people click on the promotions, they share in the fees collected by Google.

 

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