Google has quietly rolled out feed placements in AdWords, allowing advertisers to purchase ads within specific RSS feeds. To purchase the ads, advertisers need to first choose to advertise on the Google Content Network (as opposed to within the Google search engine).
From there, utilizing Google’s tool for identifying placements, the advertiser can select the specific RSS feeds where they would like to place ads and proceed to place bids either on a cost per click or cost per thousand basis. Ads can be either text, graphical banners, or video.
The move follows the rollout of AdSense for RSS to publishers earlier this year, allowing blogs (including this one) to monetize their feeds. To-date, those ads have either been sold direct by Google’s salesforce or contextually based, meaning that if a story in the RSS feed is about the World Series, you might see ads for tickets. Well, in theory. Some of the ads showing up in RSS feeds were way off – some even to a point of being offensive. Additionally, some bloggers have reported sharp declines in earnings with AdSense for RSS, especially compared to the direct ad sales previously offered by Feedburner before the company was acquired by Google.
With feed placements, AdWords takes a step in addressing both of these concerns. By enabling all advertisers to select the sites on which they would like to place their ads, the matching is likely to be more accurate. Meanwhile, the more precise targeting should also drive up ad rates, since the ads should perform better since they are being targeted at the proper audience. AdWords also of course has the largest base of advertisers on the Web to which it can sell the inventory, and by making feed placements self-service, all of these advertisers can now buy inventory, regardless of budget.
Will all of these factors suddenly make RSS advertising extremely lucrative for publishers? That all depends on users actually clicking the ads. That hasn’t been an easy proposition in the brief history of RSS advertising, but at least Google now seems to offer all of the tools to give the medium its fair shot.
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