AddThis, one of the leading link sharing services used by sites all around the web (including this one), announced today that it now offers publishers information about the types of interests their readers and content sharers have demonstrated on the other sites they have visited. The company says it sees 1 billion unique people every month, a very substantial portion of the internet, and tracks their interests with cookies.
Privacy-first advocates may raise concerns about tracking like this, but for publishers interested in learning more about their audiences and the people who help distribute their content, the information could prove quite valuable. Unfortunately, the interests exposed right now are fairly general (music, education) and available only through a dashboard view to publishers. If that data were to be made available programmatically, through an Application Programming Interface (API), then some really interesting recommendations and other services could be built on top of it.
We interviewed Hooman Radfar, CEO of AddThis partent company ClearSpring, about all this kind of data in March of 2009. He said at the time that an API could be coming soon. It's still not here and today he said that was because of the overwhelming commercial interest in the company's existing products.
Will the company now start to focus on an API? " In future releases, we will not only show more granular interests, but also make the information available in different ways like APIs, widgets, etc.," Radfar told us today.
Marketers Will Eat Everything
We wrote about AddThis competitor ShareThis in February, 2009 and asked that company how it planned to relate to its data.
I asked [CEO Tim] Schigel whether ShareThis would be sharing this kind of data it collects, in aggregate, with marketers. "That's ultimately where we go with the business model," he said. The company is talking with selected marketers about sharing access to market insights now, but Schigel emphasized that a few conditions needed to be respected. "We need to make sure that publishers can build trust with their readers," he said, "and we need something unique that marketers can't get elsewhere."
ShareThis has offered an API for some time, but that API appears to be write-only, allowing outside developers to change the way their websites share information on the platform.
Can We Move Beyond Marketing?
Data as Platform
- Analytics, optimization, monitoring & thresholds
- Pattern detection for discovery of new markets
- Historical archiving.
Hopefully the startup ecosystem will figure out how to monetize on the fascinating opportunities presented by all this data - in a way that genuinely adds value to the lives of end users too (those of us who produced the data). Some of those uses will no doubt be in marketing, and that's great, but hopefully many will go beyond that most obvious use-case for the data. That's not something we can take for granted will occur - even data driven innovation is made of people.
For now, the data market is moving forward slowly but surely. Want to see what's visible via AddThis today? Check out the video below.