Thoughts on Google and vb.ly

by Christopher Paul on October 7, 2010

Reports of Libya taking control of a the domain vb.ly, millions of web users suddenly wondered if their favorite URL shortener, Bit.ly would ultimately be taken over, too. The owner of vb.ly was told that if his site was more like Bit.ly (and not dedicated to adult material), it wouldn’t have been shut down.

Bit.ly and Ow.ly and so many others appeared safe. But don’t think it won’t happen again. It will. If its not the current government, the next one – or the next official in charge of domain registrations – will. Bit.ly would be wise to migrate its brand to j.mp or something else.

Here, Google has a great opportunity to steal a little of Bit.ly’s thunder. Having recently made public their own URL shortener, Google can probably market their alternative as a service that isn’t as likely to get shut down (although you can almost never tell with governments around the world blaming Google for their woes). But there is one thing that Google’s URL shriker doesn’t do yet – analytics.

This is what draws people to Bit.ly in the first place. But Google already has Google Analytics so it shouldn’t be hard to extend it to their competing service. Since Analytics is such a popular traffic analyzer, it seems like it would be a slam dunk and Google could dominate yet another area of the web.

I’m not sure what Google’s plans are but I’m confident that their URL shortening service will integrate with Analytics. But there is a real opportunity to grab some of Bit.ly’s market share now if it only they made analytics a part of the service when they opened it up to the public.

By the time they have integrated the two services, Bit.ly could have recovered from the fear caused by Libya’s takeover of vb.ly and Google would have to fight harder to dominate this space.

It seems like a lost opportunity for Google and I wonder if its another example of how they seem to be slipping.

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