When I started using Twitter, one of the first things that piqued my interest was URL shorteners. Not only does it make no sense why Twitter doesn’t officially have their own URL shortening service (although bit.ly is sort of official now), but it really made no sense to me why everyone used either bit.ly or tinyurl.com instead of creating their own. A URL shortener is uber simple to program and can offer you a ton of value. So I picked up the domain “ips.me” with the intent of using it as my own URL shortener.
Then I realized that this simple script could be valuable to a lot of people and a lot of businesses. After some thought, I decided to turn this into an open source project and release it for everyone to use. Yesterday I finally got around to putting the site up at http://z.ips.me. Although the first version isn’t available for download yet, I’ve begun testing it on my Twitter account.
The benefits of my own URL shortener are pretty obvious to me:
- I can name the URL whatever I want. I can get http://z.ips.me/Adam to point to this blog instead of http://tinyurl.com/den93j
- I control how long the redirect is in place. If I want to change it or remove it, I can. Or I can leave it up forever.
- I control whether it’s a permanent 301 redirect (search engine friendly) or a temporary 302 redirect.
- I get the data and they don’t. I know when someone clicked a link, what site they clicked it on, what browser they’re using, and more. I can aggregate all of this data and use it to my advantage.
- I’m branding MY site and not another third party. If someone says “hey what’s z.ips.me” and visits it, I get the traffic.
Who Will Use it?
Personally, I think every business that’s on Twitter should be using their own URL shortener. If their domain is too long, they can spend $10/year and buy a new one like I did.
The perfect example is a company like Dell. On their Twitter page they use a combination of ow.ly and bit.ly. They recently reported that they’ve generated over $3 million in revenue from their links on Twitter. Imagine if those links came from t.dell.com. They’d have all the data. They’d control where a link goes when a sale ends. They’d brand their own domain.
I also think that web marketing companies and SEO companies would all love to have this kind of control for their clients.
Right now the site currently says that we’re in a private Beta. You can sign up to receive an email once the service is available for download. My question to you is – how useful do you think this service is? For site owners? Businesses? Web marketers/SEOs? I’m debating how long I should test it before developing it to the point that it can be released it to the public (there needs to be an install script and a better admin interface, along with instructions).
In terms of monetization, there is some revenue potential in domain/hosting referral commissions, and also the potential to charge for installs, but most likely this is more along the lines of Music-Alerts – a fun project that doesn’t really make any money.