Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Google Syndication

Steve Rubel blogged For over a year now I have been wondering why Google hasn't more openly embraced syndicated feeds – be they RSS or its splintered sister, Atom. When you look at how MSN and Yahoo are partying with RSS like it is 1999, Google is like the nerd sitting in the corner in the corner with no one to dance with.

Before I continue, let's look what Google, Yahoo and MSN are already doing with feeds. In Google's case every Blogger blog and Google Group publishes a feed. In addition, Gmail publishes a feed as well. However, Google does not offer any Google News or Google Web Alert feeds.

The significant thing to understand is that when Google provide me a feed for my blog or a Google Group I started and drew participants to, or to email sent to my Gmail account, they are just the host, and are allowing me or others access to my words
On the flip side Yahoo and MSN are offering RSS feeds that not only drive users away from their properties (such as search results and news alerts), but also the kinds of feeds that also alert users when they have posted new content that is relevant to them (such as music alerts).
I am not familiar with the search results (I need to check into that), but news alerts and music alerts use my email to pull me to their service, and Google offers news alerts as well
That leads to an "aha" moment. Google views syndication drastically differently than its competitors. On the Web Google is all about driving people away from their sites. Once they've shown them an Adwords ad they had their opportunity to collect a dollar, so why not give the users what they need and send them on their way. However, when it comes to syndicated feeds they use it as a tool to drive users to their services and that’s why they are syndication shy. Remember Autolinking? I rest my case.
The certainly caught criticism for autolinking, in which they would modify my web page on the fly to insert links I did not intend to be there
Feeds may be Google's greatest enemy. If Google did offer feeds that connected users with the information they are looking for from the Web they would miss the opportunity to advertise to them. What will remedy this? Google will incorporate contextual Adwords ads into these kinds of feeds, much like Overture has done. What’s taking so long? Beats me.

Dotwind blogged I am gonna have to disagree with Steve on this one. Yes they do want the customer to click and go away but they also want repeat business. Also, they don't want their customers going to their competitors. They have been running Google News for a couple of years and it's not generating any revenue for them other than attracting visitors to their search results where they can display the ads.

This last point is I think where Steve got a bit confused. Google wants customers to leave their website by clicking on ads, but they also have to guarantee a stream of new visitors and repeat visitors. And what's a better way to do this other than an Rss feed for it's news and search results.

RexBlog blogged While we're asking that question, I just visited Drudge for the first time in months (years?) and am wondering why he doesn't offer a feed? If it's a revenue issue, Steve's suggestion for how Google could make money would work for him, as well.

TDavid commented Prediction: Adsense in RSS by year end 2005. I'm hearing rumblings already about it (nothing official though). When that happens, I think we'll see Google be all over RSS. They clearly have put too much stock into Atom.

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