Bit.ly, the most popular URL-shortening service, has unveiled a very interesting new service called Bitly.tv. Leveraging their status as the default URL shortener for Twitter messages, Bitly.tv aims to keep its finger on the pulse of what videos are going viral at any given moment.
Now this is a seriously cool bit of technology, assuming it works as advertised. Bit.ly is in a unique position of being able to see a huge number of shortened links come through their service. The ability to translate that link behavior into a kind of trending-topics idea is really promising.
And it's definitely high time that we had some metrics to measure real-time viral movement. Between shortened links, Facebook, email marketing, YouTube, regular links, blogs, and all the countless other social tools… you'd think someone would sooner or later be able to start compiling that sharing data and start forming it into something coherent.
And that's what Bitly.tv is all about.
I am a little concerned about the accuracy of their data. For instance, The infamous "D*** In A Box" SNL skit with Justin Timberlake is currently on their home page. That video is 2 years old, so it wouldn't exactly fit the definition of going viral. It's possible that their data is currently just purely based on what's being shared. And that makes sense. I would hope that over time they can begin to weed out older videos that are spiking due to seasonal or other circumstantial reasons.
But it is still very early. Let's give them some time to get the kinks out.
I also expect that they're going to get compared to Alexa pretty quickly, I think, for the simple fact that their data is only coming from one source. That one source, of course, is but a small fraction of how things go viral. Viral analytics is something that's going to take a while to figure out because the nature of how things are shared online is constantly in flux.
This is, however, a huge step in the right direction. A gigantic number of links are shared via Bit.ly, and they should have some realistic ideas of what videos are "going viral.” I look forward to using the service to help me discover viral trends I might otherwise have missed. I'm already thinking of all sorts of great applications for this data.