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A bit.ly of Interesting News

bitly_logo_topSo 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.

  • http://merchantstand.com Bob Williams

    I’m not a bit.ly surprised at this news. Google continues to stretch the breadth of it’s products and services. The fact that they can offer most of these services free of charge to the consumer adds to their adoption rate. I’ll admit, I’m a user of many of their free services. But didn’t we crucify Microsoft for the same practices?

  • http://www.ckrinteractive.com Skye

    I don’t think you’re overreacting – I agree with you and Bob. I too am a Google fan, but it’s hard not to step back and note that this all feels a bit “big brotherish,” and question how they get away with what we’ve crucified other organizations for. Then again, Bit.ly has outdone the majority of the other URL shortening service providers out there, and I didn’t feel too bad for the other providers I stopped using… it would just be nice to see fair, healthy competition and not have Google own everything that I do. :)

  • http://www.terryhoward.net Terry Howard

    You know, I have discussed my concerns directly with developers of 2 of the top shortener services and had them echoed by other users in regards to some solution to auto-tag shortened URLs from designated domains (IE, your own) with analytics codes to get around the issue of EVERY inbound links from a shortener showing up with no referrer data. Pretty important critical stuff when it comes to gauging the value of your social media efforts, right? Well in every case it was unabashedly stated that it was zero concern of theirs and absolutely last on their list of features. Shortly put, they didn’t give a flying flip about anything remotely marketing related (as if analytics was only important for sales.)

    So, the company that provides quality analytics services wants to jump into that arena and likely provide a well thought out complete and mature solution? I say, about damn time, and good ridance to the short-sighted.
    .-= Terry Howard´s last blog ..University for Creative Minds =-.

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