Google tests out blog ad service

New variation of AdSense allows publishers to send text or banner ads alongside syndicated content using RSS.

Google is floating a trial balloon of a service that pairs advertisements with blog feeds.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based search company is testing a new variation of its AdSense program for publishers that allows sites to display text or image ads related to their content and get paid by the click.

This week, Google spawned a version of AdSense that allows publishers to send a text or banner advertisement alongside syndicated content using Really Simple Syndication (RSS) or Atom, Google's adopted format.

RSS is an open standard for content syndication that's transforming the way people access news headlines and other information such as blogs online. Though it's one of the most promising emerging technologies, publishers have yet to find means of profiting from it. Advertising is widely thought to be the answer.

Companies including Kanoodle, Moreover Technologies and Yahoo are testing similar ad services for feeds.

Robert McLaws, publisher of a Microsoft-focused blog called Longhornblogs.com, is one of the first to experiment with the Google ads this week. He said the graphical ads, in his own customized bright blue, are being fed into roughly 61 feeds of his blog.

Though he couldn't provide many details, by Google's request, he said the ads are in hypertext mark-up language using images and links. He and Google's team are still testing how best and how often to present the ads, but McLaws said the company is likely to introduce a public beta in the next two weeks.

"It will be a change for the better, but I hope people don't go crazy," McLaws said. "Simple, relevant text link ads in RSS are one thing. Flashing banner ads like 'Shoot Mario to win an iPod' are another thing."

Google spokesman Barry Schnitt confirmed the test, but would not provide further details.

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