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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

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10 things to know about me … Confession of a great mind

Like everyone else, I usually get asked, What, Where, When and How, much about myself. In this blog entry, I will use a Question and Answer format (FAQ – Frequently asked questions) to give interested parties more knowledge about myself.

1. Who is Armel Nene?

Well that’s an obvious one. My name is Armel (French name), I was born in the Ivory Coast and raised in France. I am a native French speaker. I moved to London when I was 15 and been residing there since.

2. This is a technology blog, what technology do you use?

I am a passionate of technology in general; from getting the latest hardware to trying the hottest programming language on the market. I started getting into technology from a young age therefore I subsequently using a vast array of technologies.

2.1 In terms of programming language, which language do you use on a daily basis?

I am a JAVA dude. I use the language daily to work on different type of projects; J2ME for mobile applications, J2EE for enterprise and even getting to grasp with JAVAFX. When I sit in front of the PC, it is because I am trying to develop some new prototype applications or finishing some work related projects.

2.2 are you a geek?

Do I look like one? No! I am not a geek and I am not in denial

2.3 ok so do you have any of the following:

PC and Laptop? Yes.

Blackberry or iPhone? Both.

Wii, Xbox or PS3? All.

Do you have a home network? Yes.

Do you like computer films such hackers and pirates of Silicon Valley? Hmmm. I got both films so what is your point? That does not make me a geek.

3. Microsoft or Apple? Bill or Steve?

Microsoft! Mac is for secretaries, the hardware is fashionable but it lacks a large number of software that I use on a daily basis. Also Bill over Steve, you have to watch Pirates of Silicon Valley movie to understand the reason for my choice.

4. What is the last book that you’ve read?

Tsun Tsu – Art of War. This is one of the best book written. I am currently reading “48 Laws of Power” which is similar to the art of war.

5. Are you a risk taker?

Well, I like risk if there is a great reward that comes out of it. I perceive risks as challenges and they are present with the sole purpose of being taken on. The mind needs challenges in order to keep active and learn. Don’t forget, we learn from our mistakes and experiences and than from others. Taking risk shows a degree of confidence in your own abilities, and well planned and undertook challenge will make you a better person.

6. You talk about learning and challenges, what is the most recent challenge that you have undertaken?

I am currently studying an MBA in IT Management. I think this is great challenge as all my life; I have only been involved in pure technology such as Software development. I did not feel a sense of satisfaction as I felt that there is no much left in programming that I cannot do. I ran team and projects in the past and my development skills are reached the expert level. So I wanted to learn something new, I want to understand why managers and companies always act like they do.

6.1 What are you going to do after your MBA, a change of career path?

Well that is a very good question. I love technology and I love developing application. After my MBA, I am planning into moving on the management stuff of IT. I want to build team and or companies to build great software. I want to be able to use my theoretical knowledge to penetrate market or take opportunities of niche markets. A lot of IT guys leave in the dark like the “IT Crowd” and might be happy with they have but I need to feel part of the bigger picture. After all this, I am still an avid software developer and I think I will still be developing for the next 20 years either as part of my work or as a hobby.

7. Do you read other blogs?

Techrunch.com and lifehacker.com, TechCrunch is more about technology start-ups venture in contrast to Lifehacker which is about “pimping” your hardware.

8. Which day is your favourite day of the week?

I am sure that most of the planet population would agree with me that Friday is the best day of the week as it is the start of the weekend.

9. What do you when you bored?

I live by the Thames River so I usually take my family for a day out or I meet friends. If it is raining, then I spend my time on the PC looking for my next challenge.

10. What is the last movie you watched?

Watchmen! I found it over hype and too long but I would watch it again.

10.1 What is that in cinema or you downloaded it?

What kind of question is this? Don’t you that this blog is available all over the Internet? Of course I watched the movies in cinema, do you want my receipt?

Ok now we are done is there anything you want to add?

No. I was getting bored and I got a program to finish so that I can put it for download on the Apple App Store.

You are a geek..

No, I am not. You are a 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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