I never used a URL shortener before the micro-messaging service Twitter came along. These are services that take long URLs, for example: http://venturebeat.com/2008/06/25/twitter-adding-employees-losing-features/ and turns it into something like this: http://is.gd/G6W. Both go to the same place, but the latter is decidedly more friendly with a service that limits the amount of characters you can use in messages — like Twitter.
A new entrant in this field is Linkbee. It differentiates itself by allowing you to monetize the links you shorten. Yes, you can make money off of any link (not just your own) you send out on Twitter, or put in a post, etc.
This works the same way as other URL shorteners, however now with the shortened URL it also attaches your choice of an interstitial or banner ad to that link.
The interstitial ad, as you might expect, is annoying. It forces you to sit there for several seconds before forwarding you to the actual destination. The banner ad is decidedly less annoying as it simply resides as an overlay on the top of the page.
It’s an interesting concept, but how will owners of the actual content feel about others making money off of their site? (Users also have the option to include no advertising at all.)
The money made off of such a service doesn’t look to be much right now. 2,000 visits to an interstitial ad will net you a $1 payout, while 4,000 visits to a banner ad will earn you the same $1. However, the service also pays out for up to five levels of referrals if your shortened link is used on other sites.
Linkbee says that is has applications for both Facebook and MySpace in the works.
update: Interestingly, I used Linkbee to shorten the URL for this very post, and with the banner ad it appears to have broken our site’s CSS. See for yourself: http://linkbee.com/BA
update 2: Linkbee fixed the CSS issue. Co-founder Chris Pavlovski also tells us that they are hoping to curb content owners’ anger with their multi-level marketing strategy (5 levels of referrals) and get the content owners to help promote the program, “which should lead to long- term gains for them,” he says.
Linkbee will officially launch tomorrow.