Twurl: 3 reasons Twitter should build its own small URL service

November 28, 2007   

Picture 13-1Currently, Twitter uses the TinyURL API to truncate long URLs sent via its service. I think they should develop their own small url service. It would be easy for them to do (would take one of their developers a few days) and it could be a great way to make the system more robust.

(Also, to make it easy for the fine folks at Twitter, I've reserved "" for them and will hand it over at no charge but a beer.)

Here are three reasons Twitter should build it's own small URL service:

  1. Stats, stats, stats... for publishers TinyURLs are obfuscated and untraceable for stats software, both because of how the forwarding software is implemented, and because most of Twitter's traffic is via 3rd party clients, which work outside of traditional web browsers. Since TinyURLs aren't easily picked up by stats software, Twitter is rendered un-measurable from a "social media campaign" side of things, which in a World (WW) where metrics pay rent, sucks. Twitter could build its own service in such a way which could emphasize trackable links to content for publishers.
  2. Data, data, data... for Twitter There's a lot of awesome data in link tracking. There are probably many thousands of TinyURL links made and millions of clicks each month through the Twitter service. However, Twitter, Inc. itself, gets very little value out of all those links and clicks. For as much value as individual publishers and members can get on an individual basis for being able to track links and referrals, Twitter could gain exponential value from the aggregate of such data; and as they figure out how to monetize their service, and please their investors, Twitter needs to develop a base of proprietary data to exploit to make their service and the broader web smarter.
  3. Reliability Recently, went down. That rendered all of the TinyURL on Twitter (and across the WWW) useless. Why not tie the small URL's reliability to the service's reliability? If TinyURL goes down and Twitter is still up, it degrades the overall service. If Twitter's small URL service only went down when the service goes down, there's not much incremental damage. Ultimately, tying two important services together (Twitter itself and the url shorting service) just makes sense.

These are just three reasons Twitter would be smart to provide this service. What are some other reasons they should? Why shouldn't they?

comments powered by Disqus