When the social news tool Digg relaunches next week — Wednesday to be exact — it will get help from a new product called Realtime, a search engine that surfaces links being shared the most across the Web.
Realtime is owned by Bitly, the URL shortening company with the biggest market share. Bitly has long worked to offer useful analytics around the vast troves of data it collects from the links people are sharing with its service. And with its Realtime, which launched today (TheNextWeb appears to have seen it first), Bitly is bringing a version of that offering to users for free with a much nicer interface. Realtime lets you filter searches of links by subject, social network, keyword, domain, language and country.
When I first saw the report this morning about Realtime, I pinged John Borthwick, chief executive of Betaworks, which now owns Digg, and which also owns a large stake in Bitly. He confirmed that Digg will be drawing on Bitly’s intelligence, including from Realtime.
Yes, that’s Bitly’s silly little logo at top left.
Betaworks is a major investor in a bunch of companies, including Bitly, Chartbeat and SocialFlow, that are all collecting realtime data about information being published around the web (VentureBeat uses Chartbeat to track the traffic of our stories). While Betaworks is building quite a focused portfolio with these properties, it’s also true that Betaworks no longer has full control over some of them, including Bitly. Bitly recently raised $15 million from Khosla Venture and other investors. That company launched a social search engine product for enterprise customers in October.
The Realtime service is in beta. I went to its site (http://rt.ly/) and registered, and got access immediately. See below a screenshot of the results the service gave me when I searched for “Olympics” under topic “sports” with no other filters. The results are quite relevant, pulling up what look to be very popular results (about the opening ceremony, and Ryan Lochte’s win of the first U.S. gold medal).
However, other searches show the service has some ways to go. For example, I searched for “Microsoft” under the topic of “news”, and found completely irrelevant results (“Usher’s Stepson Buried” and “Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong joins The Voice”).
Digg has its work cut out for it, because Facebook has just launched a product that looks like a Digg-killer: a recommendation bar that shows you articles from around the web based on what your friends are reading. If Digg borrows from Realtime intelligence, however, it can easily expand beyond what’s popular on Facebook, and draw from a bunch of networks around the web, including Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Ameblo.
And then there’s Google’s launch of its own URL shortener service, to take on Bitly. That, combined with Google’s powerful search technology, as well as Google Plus, gives Digg yet another competitor.
See more details about the plans for Digg’s relaunch here.