The Vecosys blog is reporting the rumor (take it only as that) that Google has its crosshairs set on Feedburner for its next acquisition. This would make sense for Google, given its ongoing expansion of venues in which to broker ads. Paid search growth is slowing, which partly explains its aggressive march towards other mediums including radio, newspapers, video games and most recently, video.
Feedburner has been on a roll over the past year as a tool to manage the RSS feeds of blogs and news sites big and small. RSS meanwhile continues to slowly gain adoption, though it hasn’t quite reached mainstream. Many users still get scared away by acronyms (SEO, SEM, SERPs, SME, etc.) which is one reason RSS hasn’t reached mainstream audiences to the degree that it should, and that it will. In other words, it’s mainly a branding issue which is supported by the fact that MyYahoo! holds the lion’s share of RSS users, while never mentioning the term RSS.
Google could likewise serve to push RSS overall adoption forward by acquiring a company like Feedburner. More importantly, it gives the company another venue against which to match contextual advertising, akin to AdSense. If this rumor is true, it could very well lead to an RSS extension of AdSense. As the Vecosys blog points out, this will gain importance as more and more people use RSS feeds as a back door to stories and blog posts (permalinks) – thereby skipping the front door (main page) where they would otherwise see lots of ads — AdSense ads in some cases.
Because a majority of RSS feeds are used for blogs, and because mostly tech savvy individuals have feeds set up, this also enables better ad targeting. As RSS approaches mainstream however, user profiles will vary more. Nonetheless, this would be a strategic investment for Google, well in line with the many points drawn over the past 18 months to gain greater ad serving capability across formats and mediums. Given the audience aggregation capabilities of RSS, it could be equally valuable as Google’s next ad delivery vehicle.
Related: Here is a Business Week article from Last June that goes further into Feedburner’s history and model. It even projects forward to a possible intersection with a certain Mountain View based search giant.