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Monetizing Syndicated Content with AdSense for Feeds

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No one quite knows how to make money from syndicated content yet. AdSense for feeds is Google's experiment in monetizing content feeds delivered through RSS and other mechanisms. Eric Giguere discusses why the jury's still out on this program.
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Sites and blogs often syndicate their content into feeds using formats such as RSS or ATOM. Feeds make it easy to share content with other sites and to track new content, but they also present site owners with a new problem in monetizing content when using an advertising program such as Google's AdSense.

The Problem: Aggregators

Google's AdSense program is a great way for website and blog owners to make money from people who read their content from a web browser, but not everyone does that these days. Syndicated content—content made accessible via feeds—is often not read using a browser. Instead, the reader uses an aggregator to read the feeds. The aggregator monitors all the feeds that interest the reader and consolidates them for easy viewing. The reader doesn't need to visit the sites in question; the syndicated content is displayed directly in the aggregator.

This, of course, presents challenges for sites that monetize their content by displaying AdSense-supplied advertisements. Those ads are dynamically obtained and displayed by JavaScript code that runs when a page is loaded into a browser. That code isn't included in any feed, and even if it were, most aggregators wouldn't know what to do with embedded JavaScript code. Thus, persons reading your content via a feed won't see any advertisements, possibly depriving you of advertising revenue.

To combat this problem, there are two general approaches you can take. The first is to provide only snippets or abstracts in the feed, not the full content, with links back to the appropriate pages on your website or blog. The second is to insert advertisements directly into the feed, and that's what AdSense for feeds is all about.

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