Feedster Adds Ads To Custom Feeds

Feed search engine Feedster is adding text ads to the custom XML feeds it generates in response to a user’s keyword search. Alternatively, folks can pay $10 annually to receive an ad-free version. The ad-supported feeds will debut by the end of the month.

Text ads in RSS feeds are an emerging phenomenon, as publishers begin to seek a way to monetize their investment in the new technology.

In Feedster’s case, the ads will be fed as a separate item, rather than incorporated into existing content. They’ll also be labeled as ads, though company executives haven’t worked out what language will be used. The ads will appear in search feeds and in what Feedster calls “feedpapers” — conglomerations of different feeds that users put together themselves.

Feedster will sell some of the ads internally — focusing initially on the political realm as the November election approaches. Inventory will be priced on a case-by-case basis, with some ads sold in CPM deals, and others by the click.

“There are some targeted campaigns, particularly around the elections and politics. We can get paid pretty good money for political ads,” said Scott Rafer, CEO of Feedster. “That will probably be the biggest moneymaker over the next few months.”

Feedster says it has been incorporating an image file into every item in every feed since mid July, which enables it to track how many ads are viewed. Tracking ad delivery has been one of the challenges faced by RSS advertising pioneers.

“We can tell the difference between human reads and machine reads,” said Rafer.

The ads not sold in-house will come from partner Kanoodle’s context-targeted pay-per-click ad network. Feedster works with Overture to deliver the keyword-targeted ads that appear on its Web site.

Interestingly, despite the fact that the feeds are generated in response to keyword searches, the Kanoodle ads won’t be targeted based upon those keywords. Instead, Feedster will look at the content a search feed generates, then map it to one of Kanoodle’s 400 categories.

“We’re under the impression that people use our feeds a lot more like content than they do like search returns,” said Rafer. “This is experimental. There are a number of reasons why we think it’ll work pretty well, but we’ll have to measure it.”

Once the category has been determined, ads from Kanoodle clients who have bid on that category will be served.

“We view RSS as a logical extension of content. At its most basic point it is an extension of content on the site,” said Mark Josephson, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Kanoodle. “Advertisers come to us to find more opportunities to interact with their customers, and they have come to expect us to innovate to get to them in new ways.”

In general, Josephson said, the company has seen “very strong performance” from ads within RSS feeds. Josephson admits, however, that novelty might be a factor. “It’s still early so consumers are still trying to figure out how to use RSS and how to be involved with it,” he said. The company has experimented with ads in RSS feeds with partners such as Moreover Technologies and CBS MarketWatch.

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