Google buys FeedBurner

Google sees a future in web feed metrics and RSS feed advertising and buys the increasingly popular FeedBurner.

The FeedBurner blog confirms that Google has bought the company. This is an acquisition that makes perfect sense for Google.

Feedburner provides information on web feed users

Feedburner will provide Google with additional information on what blogs (and sites) people find useful and popular. After all, you will not subscribe to a web or RSS feed unless you find it valuable. Hence a web feed subscription can be counted as a vote for that blog. That is information that can be made part of the search engine result algorithm.

A new advertising arena

Secondly, as web feeds are getting increasingly popular, more and more traffic moves away from the regular sites over to feed readers. Many sites will now include complete articles in their web feeds, meaning that people may read them without visiting the sites themselves. This is an advertising opportunity Google will not risk to miss.

Google has experimented with RSS AdWords text ads. Feedburner already has an ad system that works.

Google Analytics + FeedBurner = a total picture of traffic

Finally, given that Google has entered the web metrics scene with its free statistics package Google Analytics, it makes sense to add a feed metrics package, as well. Feedburner is, as far as we know, the best and most advanced web feed manager and measurement package available today. We certainly use it.

This has repercussions for other measurements as well. Nobody trusts Alexa to give accurate traffic numbers for site visits. Alexa data is generated by its toolbar users, and they do not represent a cross section of Web society. Nevertheless, the Alexa numbers may give a general impression of the development of particular sites over time.

The FeedBurner blog lists more correct metrics as one of the reasons for the acquisition:

Publishers want a single dashboard and single source for the metrics that give them feedback about the value of their content and its impact on their business. By combining our market leading feed metrics with Google’s market leading site and marketing analytics, publishers now get a comprehensive, 360-degree view of their audience. This ‘total perspective’ has long been a goal of ours, and we think our combined analytics offering is going to provide publishers with previously undiscovered insights and opportunities.

Feedburner will not remain a separate unit

Google will assume full operational control of FeedBurner, and the FeedBurner team join the Google team. Feedburner says that “the FeedBurner website will remain operational as we continue to integrate their technologies with Google’s tools.”

We guess that this will mean that the Feedburner brand will be replaced by a new Google service or merged into Google Analytics and Google AdSense.

What about privacy?

Many search engine marketing experts are wary of signing up to Google Analytics and other Google services, as it may give Google and opportunity to look them in the cards.

Google tries to calm such fears by saying that “Google has a long-standing commitment to protecting the privacy of users’ personal information. FeedBurner users can expect the same high standards of privacy protection following this acquisition.” Not everyone will find this sufficiently reassuring.



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