Net giant nabs Chicago company

Google gobbled up another small technology company on Friday, paying an undisclosed amount for FeedBurner, a 30-person Chicago firm that helps bloggers and podcasters deliver content to their audiences. According to FeedBurner, more than 100,000 sites use the service to help their audiences keep current with audio and video podcasts.

A feed is essentially a stream of links to content that is updated regularly — the Internet’s version of a magazine subscription. (Though as with most things on the Net, feeds are typically free.)

Viacom’s Comedy Central, for instance, uses FeedBurner to supply Web users with fresh video content as it is added to the site. Users rely on “feed reader” software from companies such as Google, Yahoo and NewsGator to organize feeds from various providers.

In April, FeedBurner announced a deal to handle all feeds for the AOL Network, which includes content from New Line Cinema, HBO and Warner Bros.

Google veep Susan Wojcicki said on Friday that the acquisition of FeedBurner will give Google’s advertisers access to ad space within the feeds and on the sites that publish the feeds. She added that sites would also benefit. “Their monetization will be improved,” she said.

While feed readers aren’t widely used outside of techie circles, Wojcicki said she sees feeds as a fast-growing way for Net users to gather content from multiple sources.

Purchase is the equivalent of an impulse buy at the check-out counter for Google, which has more than $11 billion in cash burning a hole in its pocket.

Since scooping up YouTube last October for $1.65 billion, Google has bought more than a half-dozen other companies, including AdScape, which inserts advertising into videogames; Marratech, which makes videoconferencing software; and DoubleClick, which sells and manages online advertising.

The Federal Trade Commission is conducting an antitrust review of the $3.1 billion DoubleClick deal, which would make Google even more of a superpower in selling Internet advertising.

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