Feedburner's publisher deals are getting interesting

I see that Feedburner worked out a deal with the IDG publications (except InfoWorld, strangely).  We're seeing Feedburner conduct a systematic conquest of publishers' RSS feeds with IDG, Reuters and USA Today all formally committed.  If they can get CMP or Ziff, then we'll see the rest of tech publishing jump on board, I'm sure.  Then they'll have a beach head.

IndustryBrains, now owned by Marchex, similarly hit the publishing market this way, quietly eroding Google's ability to play in tech publishing.  They have a really interesting model that may give some insight into what will happen with Feedburner.

IndustryBrains serves the Sponsored Links you see at the bottom of all the pages on just about any major tech publishing web site and several finance and travel sites.  Advertisers bid for placement amongst several high level categories specified by the publisher.

Why does IndustryBrains own tech publishing?  It's not only because their CEO Erik Matlick calls up all his customers on a regular basis to see how they're doing.  It's not only because they report exactly how much each advertiser is spending and who the advertiser contact is.  

IndustryBrains owns that market because tech publishers make more money with IndustryBrains than with Google.

IndustryBrains was particularly clever with their model.  When an advertiser buys a Sponsored Link on a site, they are bidding for placement specifically with that brand.  A telecom services provider knows that they should pay more for the "Wireless" category on WiFi Weekly than the "Wireless" category on Big Tech Monthly and nothing at all on Kids Gaming Quarterly.

The advertiser can choose where their ads appear.  They get more qualified clicks that convert better.  They can afford to spend more per click.  Therefore, the publisher's take home from the spend is higher.  And users are seeing ads that are relevant to them.  It works in all directions.

Feedburner is starting to look a lot like IndustryBrains with their commitment to serving publishers, though they've yet to land on a clear advertising model.  They've certainly staked out a bigger pie than IndustryBrains has.  Unlike IndustryBrains, Feedburner's product scales up and down the tail very easily with its self-serve offering.  Soon it's going to be very hard for another ad service provider to talk to publishers about RSS opportunities without going through Feedburner.  

I suppose the key question for Feedburner is about how advertising and RSS fit together.  Or maybe RSS is just the trojan horse for taking over all those publishers' web pages.


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Feedburner's publisher deals are getting interesting