Meebo announced today that it is launching an API for its Meebo Rooms service. The API will allow the automated creation and embedding of chat rooms at the server level. Rooms previously had to be set up by hand on the Meebo site. "For example, social networks can embed a chat room on every 'group' page, entertainment companies can have live community groups for each artist or show, and blog platforms can embed a chat room in the 'comments' of every post, seamlessly," says Meebo, describing possible use cases on the API page.
Meebo also announced an ad network with a revenue sharing program to allow people to monetize embedded chat rooms created via the API. The rev share is 50% with a license fee option to go ad free.
Initial partners for the Meebo Rooms Network are Revision 3, RockYou!, Piczo, Social Project, and Tagged. You can see the Revision3 implementation here, at which users can chat about a synchronized video feed of Rev 3 shows.
A comparison can certainly be made to AOL's Userplane, which also offers an API for their embeddable chat software (though not for free -- "integrated installs" start at $500), and a revenue sharing program. In fact, Userplane Money was announced just a couple of weeks after Meebo Rooms.
When Meebo announced their developer platform in the fall, we speculated that all manner of apps could benefit from having access to live chat. "By allowing third-parties to tap into Meebo's communication platform and users, the company's new development platform could actually be used to create intriguing web office applications," wrote Emre Sokullu in November. The same might be said for Meebo Rooms, which could allow developers to create interesting collaboration apps on top of the API.
An open API which turns Meebo's Rooms widget into a service could help put their chat technology into broader use and grow the network. By placing ads on the rooms and introducing a revenue sharing program, Meebo has likely found a way to offer a free API, make money from it, and keep developers happy. I've embedded a Meebo room the old fashioned way below just for fun: