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Creating RSS Feeds with the Zend Framework for Fun and Profit

  • By W. Jason Gilmore
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If you load this feed into Google Reader, you'll see output similar to that shown in Figure 1.

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Figure 1: Viewing an RSS Feed from Google Reader

Integrating Feed Ads with Google AdSense for Feeds

So, you've created the RSS feed and have started letting your friends know about it. Now what? It's time to make some money!

I believe Google's advertising network for website publishers, known as AdSense, has rocketed to popularity due to three key characteristics: first, there's no barrier-to-entry; that is, you can join the program at no charge no matter how large or small your website happens to be. Second, the advertisements served to your website are targeted to your audience. That is, if you're running a website for video game enthusiasts, you can expect advertisements focused around gaming gear, science fiction, and other topics likely to interest your users, thereby increasing the likelihood the advertisements will have some direct appeal. Finally, the advertisements are non-intrusive; you won't find any wildly annoying popups, spyware, or similar ads intended to hinder the user's browsing experience.

Apparently, millions of other website publishers agree with this sentiment; since the program's launch in 2003, it has easily become the largest online advertising network on the planet, and has since branched into mobile, radio, and television advertising. In 2005, AdSense launched another great service, known as Google AdSense for Feeds. AdSense for Feeds makes it easy for you to generate revenue through your RSS feeds by integrating context-specific text-based advertising into your feed content. Further, true to the AdSense ethos, you'll maintain complete control over the process, dictating the insertion frequency, insertion position, and circumstances in which ads are inserted (based on post word count).

If you haven't already signed up for Google AdSense, head over to http://www.google.com/adsense/ and register. The vetting process is a bit more involved than what you might be used to when registering for online services, because Google will actually review the website you've identified as being the advertising location to ensure it meets the terms set forth in its program policy. Once your account has been approved (in my experience, this has taken less than 24 hours; however, Google indicates the process could occasionally take several days), you can begin taking advantage of AdSense.

Creating an Advertising-Aware RSS Feed

The beauty of AdSense for Feeds is that it doesn't require you to refactor any of the code you created at the beginning of this tutorial. All you need to do is provide Google with the existing feed's URL, and it will create a new FeedBurner-hosted URL, thereby providing you not only with the ability to generate revenue through the feed advertising, but also granting you all of the great traffic analysis tools made available through this great service (incidentally, FeedBurner was purchased by Google in late 2007, although it continues to run seemingly autonomously, albeit with enhanced integration into Google's array of online services). If you already host your feeds on FeedBurner, you'll soon see there's an easy way to import the feeds into AdSense for Feeds.

To integrate AdSense into your existing RSS feed, login to AdSense at http://www.google.com/adsense/ and navigate to AdSense Setup > Get Ads. From there, you'll be able to choose from the six available AdSense products, among them AdSense for Feeds. Click on the appropriate link and you'll next be prompted to generate an advertising-infused feed. You'll see numerous creation options, including the ad type (text-only, images-only, or a mix of both), appearance frequency, position, and even identify preferred design colors. You can also assign the feed to an AdSense channel. However, the most important part of this creation process is located at the conclusion (see Figure 2), where you'll map the feed to AdSense. Click the Burn new feed link, and in the window that appears, paste in your feed URL.

Figure 2: Mapping Your RSS Feed to Google AdSense for Feeds

Once AdSense confirms an RSS is found at the other end of the provided URL, it will prompt you to provide a custom address and title, and ask you to confirm whether you'd like FeedBurner to track subscriber statistics (see Figure 3).

Click here for a larger image.

Figure 3: Pointing Google to Your RSS Feed

All that's left to do is replace the previously published feed URL with your new one, and begin reaping the rewards of advertising revenues!

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This article was originally published on February 26, 2009

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