Bloggers have long used the blogroll as a way of linking to their compatriots and sharing traffic. But a blogroll has always just been just a static list of links, that on some blogs (especially among political bloggers, where they might be most popular) have become so bloated and long there is very little incentive for readers to click on any of it — or even pay it any attention. Enter: rollSense. rollSense touts itself as “the Google AdSense of content,” but that’s actually a very poor description of what the service is.
Setting up a rollSense widget is easy. Really the only step is to add your sources (i.e., the blogs whose content you admire/relates to your blog — or in other words: your blogroll). Because rollSense uses RSS, you have to add blogs to your blogroll as feeds (auto discovery would be nice!). Once you’re done with that, you’re pretty much ready to go. You can customize the width and colors of the widget, as well as how many related links it shows at once.
In action, the rollSense widget uses semantic analysis to pull related stories from the sources you defined. As your readers click on stories on your blog, rollSense reloads the widget to pull new content to match what they’re looking at.
rollSense’s business model appears to be advertising that it could sell inside users’ blogrolls. They don’t mention this anywhere on their site, but their demo web site includes spaces for “Sponsored Links” on its rollSense widget. They don’t appear to be used currently for adverts, but it looks like the demo site provides a hint at the future. If rollSense did some sort of revenue share with their users that might actually make sponsored links inside their blogroll an attractive prospect to bloggers as a new means of monetization.