Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Monetizing del.icio.us

It seems like it’s a little late in the day to be talking about del.icio.us. Especially, since its been 6 months or so since they got bought by YHOO. So what has Yahoo! done with their new toy since then? Not much from what I can see. Not even a unified login (which is the case with flickr). To be sure, deli.cio.us does have some new features (importing/exporting bookmarks). But what I am trying to get at is the fact (the beauty of blogging lies in my right to peddle my opinions as facts ... doesn’t it ? :-P ) that YHOO hasn’t really used del.icio.us to contribute to its bottomline. And that’s what this blog post is about.

Besides, the obvious (ads), there are a couple of ways del.icio.us can be used to make $$. The first approach is somewhat indirect. It was mentioned at the time of the acquisition as a major driver behind the deal and continues to find currency in the blogosphere. Namely, the notion of tagged search. It is a given that any company that relies on search as a source of revenue needs to constantly improve the quality of its search results to grow its user-base (and by implication, its ad-revenue). Algorithmic approaches (to text search at least) have hit something of a plateau of late and one way to show some real improvement is by turning to non-traditional approaches such as the one offered by del.icio.us. Though the article I linked to claimed that this is being done, its not obvious to me how. But if YHOO is indeed taking definitive steps towards integrating del.icio.us into their search engine, then good for them.

The other approach to monetizing del.icio.us is somewhat less obvious (to me at least). Offer an API to the startup community and potentially to competitors as well. The latter (making del.icio.us results available to competitors) I think is more powerful. Needless to say, this site has a lot of momentum going in terms of being the leading social bookmarking service. Its hard to see Google replicate the level of success enjoyed by this piece of Internet real estate. Ergo, the only reasonable way Google to improve their search results via tagged search would be to use del.icio.us. At the very least, the del.icio.us API should pop out tags(s) to describe an article given its URL. A cursory glance at the del.icio.us API reveals that this may not have been done yet. What I am asking for is something along the lines of what is offered by technorati.

Of course, all this talk about tagged search improving search results is well and good. But what really needs to happen to make that a reality is mainstream adoption of del.icio.us. A simple experiment reveals that this may not be the case (yet). Articles from technology centric blogs tend to be heavily bookmarked. But try bookmarking something from a blog on economics or art. You will probably find that you are the first person doing so. No less than the front page article of the New York Times is likely to yield similar results. This suggests that social bookmarking has a ways to go before it Crosses the Chasm.


Post a Comment

<< Home