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Google has filed for a patent that covers advertisements in syndicated content, which on the Wild Wild Web these days means RSS feeds.

Google's astronomical growth is founded on embedding targeted advertisements into web pages, and last year it launched a mail service that incorporated the same concept. So extending the format to RSS feeds, which rose from the ashes of the 1990s "Push" hype, is no great leap.

The patent application is unusual in two respects. Firstly, Google is not named as the inventor: the honor goes to Nelson Minar, a Google employee. Secondly, no earlier patents are cited as references. (Although another Google patent application, this one, is referred to in the text.

Application No.20050165615 is entitled "Embedding advertisements in syndicated content", and the abstract describes a billing system too.

"Syndicated material e.g., corresponding to a news feed, search results or web logs, are combined with the output of an automated ad server. An automated ad server is used to provide keyword or content based targeted ads. The ads are incorporated directly into a syndicated feed, e.g., with individual ads becoming items within a particular channel of the feed. The resulting syndicated feed including targeted ads is supplied to the end user, e.g., as a set of search results or as a requested web log. "Embedding of targeted ads into syndicated feeds and/or user response to the embedded ads is be tracked in an automated manner for billing. The automated targeting and insertion process allows ads to be kept current and timely while the original feed may be considerably older," we learn from the abstract.

Although the technique has been used by other parties for almost two years, they don't appear to have protected the practice. Miner's applications is only the second application the USPTO has received that mentions XML RSS (several terms vie for the acronym), none has yet to be granted.

Google was sued by Overture, which pioneered content-based ads, and agreed to settle in Overture's favor, paying $200m and taking out a license last year. ®

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