URL shorteners have become ubiquitous to social networking, especially with the sharing of links across Twitter.
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Bit.ly, Cli.gs, Goo.gl and many others offer an easy and painless way for you to shorten your URL within the 140 character constraint of Twitter.
Most of these URL shortening services offer a simple analytics dashboard which is useful for tracking and analysing the number of times people shared your links or clicked on them.
But a little known service called Bre.ad is gaining in popularity.
What is Bre.ad? from Bre.ad on Vimeo.
Bre.ad, which has only five employees and backers that include Lady Gaga’s manager, has decided to offer a lot more value than just shortening a URL and providing some analytics.
The Bre.ad service may not only be a very interesting proposition for the folk over at Twitter but for brands that are continuing to look for ways to extract value and a return from their social media activities.
Bre.ad provides the same URL shortening ability that the others do but takes it a step further by introducing an advertising layer.
This advertising or promotional layer is based on what they call “toasts”.
The “toast” is essentially an addition of a billboard that can be anything from a brand ad to a promotional campaign advertisement. When a user clicks on the shortened URL it then displays the “toast” for a period of five seconds and then redirects to the destination URL.
Simple enough — will it work?
I’m not quite sure, we see many startups come and go but the fact that it adds value from an advertiser perspective may just be a good starting point for evolving the service a bit more.
Services such as Bit.ly currently offer more functionality in terms of an API and other tools such as browser extensions etc.
It does lack in functionality at the moment and for me five seconds may be a bit too much to display a toast (this cannot be changed at the moment). There are a few bugs and small issues and the image editing and cropping for toasts can be quite frustrating. The addition of more advanced promotional tools with analytics and heavier integration with platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may just take an interesting and promising service to a real money spinner.
Bre.ad is definitely one to watch in the growing tech startup scene.