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URL Shortner Service – how to monetize?

In the world of microblogging where users are trying say more with less, it is important that the resource url do not take more than the actual message. Enter the “URL Shortner Services” such as Bit.ly, is.gd, TinyURL among others, to the rescue to shortened those long URLs. From a user point of view, this is not much life to shortener services once the url has been turned to a small set of characters. I personally do not believe that anybody uses url shorteners outside the microblogging realms. We all know that there is no such thing as a free service, especially if you are looking for the service to stick around for a while. Therefore one question comes to mind, how can we make monetize the service.

I was at bar in Canary wharf with one of my investment friend when we were discussing several monetization ideas in regard to social networking based businesses. Obviously, Twitter was discussed but then the conversation shifted toward the third party apps built for Twitter and microblogging sites.

I am sure that anybody using Twitter has come across those funny urls in twits. When you clicked a link, there is a redirection from the url hosting server to the original source. So how can we monetize this service? That same question again. Here are some ideas and you are welcome to agree or disagree.

  1. charge microblogging site and third party developer to use the service and implement a free quota. I do not personally see how this is going to work as the microblogging site are currently in the driving seats. This option might not be viable for the url shortener service providers.
  2. when a shortened url has been clicked, the hosting server should redirect them to their site and present the user with an advertisement which will be displayed for a few second or until the user clicks it off. The ads have to be targeted the user this might involve parsing the title of the original source for keywords. This solution might be a good approach but how will user react to this. It can put them off therefore the services might have to offer some incentives to the url referrer.
  3. This probably the simplest way and less intrusive from a user’s perspective. When a user clicks on a link, the original site should be opened into a frame which is integrated into url shortener service provider’s site. The top frame of the window could display some ads.

The above are just some suggestions and they might not even be feasible or might be receive with hostility from the community but it is worth trying. Here is my final option:

  • Twitter should implement is own url shortener service where the destination page will be displayed within a frame simialr to option 3 above. Or twitter should open all links within a frame and advertise similar to option 3 but this time without cutting out the the third party url shortener service providers.

That’s all folks!

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London Start-ups TechWorld Event April 09

ETAPIX Global Ltd is sponsoring the London Start-ups TechWorld Event on 9 April 2009.

London Start-ups 2.0 TechWorld Event aims to build a platform where technology and Internet start-ups can gather together to exchange knowledge, network and reward innovations through funding partners.

If you are a Start-up company based anywhere on this globe and looking for partners, funding or just the right guys to transform your ideas into the real thing, then this event is for you. This is a chance to showcase your ideas, projects and or company in front of well selected panellists. There is only one catch; your business or idea has to be Tech or Internet related.

Our panellists have several years of investment and knowledge of Tech start-ups and can provide support through financing and workshops for your next BIG thing.

The videos will be broadcast live on USTREAM.com and all exhibitors will have their details forwarded to our network of partners for further promotion.

London Startup 2.0 TechWorld Event

Thursday 9th April 2009 at 18:00-22.30

EXPRESS BY HOLIDAY INN
LONDON – LIMEHOUSE see map

469-475 The Highway
London
E1W 3HN

We booked a conference room in Docklands London. We only have limited places available so hurry and get your ticket now @ http://www.urgoing.to/londonstartups
You can also join our hundreds of members on Facebook LinkedIn Smarta
or follow me on twitter @armelnene for an update.

Ticket : £15.90 (Exhibitors)
Ticket: £10.73 (Networkers and Guests)

TICKETS HAVE TO BE PURCHASED PRIOR TO THE EVENT.

NO TICKETS WILL BE SOLD ON THE DOOR.

Click here to see a list of the panellists including a short biography.

See you there and have your business cards ready.

I am not a geek… you are nerd

Social

10 reasons why Facebook, Bebo, Orkut etc… are not profitable

Everytime I visit a startups’ meetup, I meet some aspiring entrepreneurs who tell me that they have the next killer app that will take over…

So what is that application you are talking about?…Another social networking site?

I, personally, do not believe that social networking sites make real sustainable revenue. Let me outline some points so that we can discuss and share:

  1. Users registration is free and nobody pays for premium services so don’t offer them.
  2. Advertisement is profitable as long as operating expenses stays low.
  3. A sucessfull social networking site (in terms of population) means higher operating expenses.
  4. Users do not click on advertisement and found them quite annoying… This leads to unsuccessfull ads campaign and clients extraction.
  5. Not everyone has an IPhone or PDA. Not even 1% of users access their data on the go and what is the business model here? NOTHING!!! I thought so.
  6. Also, Fan pages and groups are killing advertisements revenue specially on facebook as they are available free of charge.
  7. Because of various laws and regulations, users data cannot be sold to third parties for their own use, another closed revenue stream.
  8. No control over copyrighted material that users upload. This will eventually lead to law-suit which can clause your business.

I suggest that if you planning to start your own social networking site, try to have a real business model and most importantly a business plan. If it makes sense on a business plan, I think traditional lenders will be interested.

If your main goal is to try to sell your business to larger organisation just like Bebo and the rest, then you might have to be more creative. Think what is the difference between MySpace and Facebook? If you site is Facebook compliant then I guess your chances are limited as you become dependent on a bigger player.

I gave 8 reasons as I will let you guys come up with the other 2 reasons. I am sure that this post will make you realise something or two, next time you or a friend are thinking of making a social networking site just concentrate a the business model = revenue stream, before you venture into the wild.

The above are just my opinion and are not based on extensive research but discussion with some VCs, news and blogs.

Twitter is a way of bombarding the world with an endless stream of self-serving mini-messages. According to the click mavens at Hitwise, it’s now the 84th most visited site on the web, and co-founder Biz Stone says the company sees twice as much traffic through its APIs.

But its 140-character “Tweets” aren’t conducive to advertising. And since it’s always been a free service, the pundits can’t imagine Twitter ever making money on subscriptions.

Bebo sale
twitter revenue
Social Networks and Profitability

UPDATE – Making money on a social network – BBC News

UPDATE: Are Facebook Ads Going to Zero? Lookery Lowers Its Guarantee to 7.5-Cent CPMs.
Facebook Connect + Facebook Ads = A Social Ad Network

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