The RSS ad units represent an additional distribution channel for Google's keyword advertising network, which was previously confined to ads placed on subscribed publishers' Web sites. In late April, Google rolled out a pilot program to test RSS ads, debuting the ad units on several sites, including Longhornblogs.com, a site devoted to information about the upcoming version of Microsoft Windows, code-named Longhorn.
The open beta test of AdSense for Feeds allows publishers to apply to have ad units included into their RSS feeds. Google also put forward a set of best practices for the inclusion of feed ads, which suggested that publishers place the ad unit at the end of the article, and only include one ad per article. The AdSense for Feeds units will only include one AdWord ad, and the ads served are based on a contextual analysis of the single article each feed item is culled from. Any advertiser can opt-in to be included in AdSense for Feeds units.
Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google's product manager for AdSense for Feeds, said the search giant's entry into this channel is aimed at nurturing feeds as a medium that can be monetized by publishers, who have thus far resisted putting out high-quality content through ad-free RSS feeds.
"We're really hoping it will grow that entire medium," Ghosemajumder said. "There's a lot of resistance in the publishing world to putting out high-quality content in feeds because they don't have the monetization possibilities present on their Web sites."