So you are bit.ly and you just suffered through the announcement that your already crowded area of the Internet space has been sat on by the 800 pound Google gorilla with their announcement of the arrival of their own URL shortening service. That can make for a rough day. Sure competition is a good thing because all ships rise with a rising tide. Google makes those tides rise so fast sometimes though that the little ships get tossed in the air and don’t always land well.
Well, bit.ly is trying to do its part in making the URL shortening industry a little more interesting. They have announced their new Pro service. One wonders if they needed to announce it a little more hastily than anticipated considering the new “Google’s in the URL shortening house!” scenario. At any rate they are offering a chance for users to provide customized / personalized / whatever-ized shortened URL’s for those looking t stand out from the crowd. Their blog’s description goes a little something like this:
As part of our initial beta program, we’re making custom URLs available to a limited number of large and medium-sized Web publishers and bloggers, including AOL, Associated Content, Bing, Clicker, The Daily Telegraph, foursquare, GDGT, Hot Potato, The Huffington Post, IGN, kickstarter, Meebo, MSN, /Message (Stowe Boyd), The New York Times, OMGPOP, oneforty.com, The Onion, slideshare, someecards, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network — which includes WSJ.com and MarketWatch.com — and blogger Baratunde Thurston (baratunde.com).
Users and publishers benefit from the additional transparency that this private-label service provides. When you see a short URL like nyti.ms, you know the destination web site before clicking on the link.
OK, good if you are one of the big boys. Goes on the wish list of most others. In addition the service is introducing a new dashboard as well. Go check out the picture at their blog which has itty-bit.ly print for you to strain over. The readable words from bit.ly about the dashboard are
We’re also excited to be introducing a unique real-time dashboard that will provide publishers with even more information about their bit.ly traffic. It’s a real-time view of how a given publisher’s content is being distributed across networks like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace and services like email, SMS, and instant messenger.
Now, I have to admit that this is cool. It’s fun to see this kind of innovation from someone other than the big names. I can’t help but wonder though just how long this kind of innovation will be available now that Google has entered the space. I have been a fan of Google for quite some time but it is starting to feel a little too ‘big brotherish’ at times.
When Google talked about the 3 S’s of their URL shortening service (security, stability and speed) all I could think about is the speed with which they are going to take all of the air out of the room for the little guy in this space and determine who may be allowed to stick around. What if Twitter decides to remove bit.ly as their default URL shortener and creates Twi.tr for their own branding purposes? There may be too much muscle for a player like bit.ly to stick around no matter how much innovation they provide.
Am I overreacting here? I’m sure you will let me know because that’s your job here at Marketing Pilgrim. Let’s hear it.