As part of its latest round of “spring cleaning,” Google just announced that it is shuttering AdSense for Feeds. The service, which allows publishers to earn a bit of extra revenue by adding Google’s ads to their RSS feeds, will be retired on October 2 and will close on December 3. Given that Feedburner has long been expected to be on one of Google’s next spring cleaning lists, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the company is now shutting down the only way it was actually making money from the product.
RSS, as a mainstream consumer technology, is mostly dead today (though it still provides a lot of the backend plumbing for many web and mobile apps). Google itself is barely investing in Google Reader anymore and, as far as we know, pulled virtually all of the Reader team into other projects a long time ago. Instead, Google – just like most Internet users – is now betting that people are getting their news from personalized news readers like Zite and Flipboard (both of which at least partly rely on RSS, of course), or from social networks like Twitter, Facebook and its own Google+.
FeedBurner, which Google acquired for a rumored $100 million in 2007, has long suffered neglect at Google’s hands. The service never even received the visual refresh virtually every other Google product got. The FeedBurner blog was shuttered not too long ago. So was the Twitter account. There isn’t even an official Google+ FeedBurner account. The last time there were issues with FeedBurner’s stats, it took whatever is left of the team five days to restore them. Just last week, as our own Romain Dillet reported, Google announced it was going to shut down the FeedBurner API. Also, as Barry Schwartz notes on Search Engine Roundtable, nobody is taking care of the service’s forums anymore and Google even let its FeedBurner domain name for Japan expire.
Many publishers (including TechCrunch) rely on the service to publish their RSS feeds. It’s time to reconsider this as the writing is clearly on the wall. There are virtually no alternatives to FeedBurner, though publishers can obviously just manage their own feeds.
Whenever Google decides to drive the final nail in the service’s coffin, it will hopefully make it easy for publishers to switch away, but it will probably be a pretty painful process.
Image credit: Glen Van Etten on Flickr.