Google buys RSS company FeedBurner

Some say the deal may just be the tipping point that leads to widespread adoption of RSS and advertising in RSS feeds.
Written by Elinor Mills, Contributor
Google has acquired another medium for its advertising engine by purchasing FeedBurner, a company that distributes syndicated content for blogs and other media Web sites, the companies said Friday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although the figure of $100 million had been reported by TechCrunch, which broke the story last week.

"This is an area where we saw a lot of opportunity and that was growing quickly," Susan Wojcicki, vice president of product management at Google, said in a conference call with reporters.

Google is the titan of paid search advertising and has a large network of Web sites that host ads Google sells through its AdWords online marketing system. The company has been expanding aggressively into enabling offline forms of advertising, such as in print and on radio and television. Now it can put ads in the more than 430,000 RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds that FeedBurner has and it can expand its AdSense Web site publisher network with the FeedBurner publishers, Wojcicki said.

"If you are a Google advertiser, now you can advertise on feeds that you otherwise may not have had access to," she said. Also, "our advertisers will have more access to (FeedBurner) publishers."

Google will figure out "interesting ways" it can integrate FeedBurner technology with its Google Reader, Wojcicki said.

RSS feeds enable media Web sites, bloggers and podcasters to shoot their content directly to readers through so-called RSS readers. FeedBurner helps publishers deliver the RSS feeds, as well as manage the feeds, track usage of the subscribers and serve ads.

The Google deal will undoubtedly shine the spotlight on technology that while growing rapidly, is not yet mainstream.

"We can absolutely help raise the profile of this new distribution vehicle," said Dick Costolo, chief executive and co-founder of 4-year-old FeedBurner, which is based in Chicago.

Google's FeedBurner acquisition may just be the tipping point that leads to widespread adoption of RSS and advertising in RSS feeds, said Bill Flitter, founder and vice president of marketing at Pheedo, a FeedBurner rival that feeds ads in RSS feeds.

"There is a market for RSS and RSS analytics in advertising," he said. "Looking at ads in the feeds, as content moves outside of your site, you need some sort of revenue model. Google has Google Analytics, which makes a good fit with FeedBurner's analytics."

The FeedBurner acquisition is just the latest of several recent Google purchases. On Tuesday, it was revealed that Google acquired security software developer GreenBorder Technologies. On Wednesday, it was disclosed that Google has purchased Spanish geo-photo firm Panoramio. In April, Google said it planned to spend $3.1 billion to buy Web ad firm DoubleClick.

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