Google filed a patent on December 31, 2003 applied for on distributing advertisements through RSS and Atom feeds. The patent was, as usual, published a year and a half after application. No allocation has taken place at this time. In the patent description, a way described where related ads are automatically added to and become an integral part of the feed. This makes it possible to fully automate the advertising process, as the selection of ads is handled by the server software. This selection process takes into account, among other things, the geographic location of the requester, the content of the feed and the user profile of the requester. Furthermore, advertisements must remain current, even if a feed is requested with content that is some time old.
Recently, much attention has been focused on the possibilities offered by offering content via feeds. It is therefore not surprising that patents are applied for on certain ideas. The problem with this patent, however, is that Google is not the first provider of ads in feeds and that it is therefore a matter of ‘prior art’. In addition, other companies offer advertisements in much the same way, which means that the method described is too general. If the patent is nevertheless granted, Google would get a tool that would allow it to take a hard line on its competitors, thus a Forrester analyst. Moreover consists the possibility that this patent relates to ‘targeted feed ads’ and not to feed ads in general, which considerably limits the scope of the patent and partly removes the aforementioned objections.