Battling bit.ly URL Shortener OneCent.US Announces Tracking and Analytics Data Downloads and New User Customizable Tracking Option

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Today, free URL shortener http://OneCent.US announces the capability for users to download real time tracking data in spreadsheet file format so users can do their own tracking and analysis, as well as an add on feature that allows them to tack on a "?q=Free-Form-Custom-Tracking-Code-Or-Identifier" to re-use the same shortened link with multiple Tweets or any number of varied presentations, i.e. emails that can then track by individual end user.

New free URL Shortener OneCent.US appeals to a US patriotic angle versus using foreign domain extension sites such as .LY (Libya) and .CO (Columbia). They also donate 90% of their advertising revenue to charity.

Their new optional custom tracking code code feature, something not offered by other services, is accomplished with a field named "q." Best explained by example, consider getting your short URL as http://onecent.us.v2 . You can Tweet it like that, or, tack on your custom tracking code(s) after the fact each time you make a unique presentation of the same link, i.e. http://onecent.us/v2?q=001 and http://onecent.us/v2?q=002, or perhaps even http://onecent.us/v2?q=Something-with-Meaningful-Content.

It is entirely a free form field which will be captured on your log records when someone clicks your short link. In this way for example you could number one hundred emails from q=001 to q=100 and then track down to the end user level who actually took your link and who didn't.

On tracking and analysis in general, "URL Shortener kingpin bit.ly's online tracking and analytics is great," says Bill Purkins, OneCent.US owner. "It's nice and fluffy, like cotton candy. It's purdy, it's tasty and it's fun to use, but for serious marketing analysis, I at least would want the raw data."

The site will also roll out XML at the end of July, 2010, and their own on line version this Friday, 23 Jul 2010.

Purkins added, "Our online product will be less reliant on pretty pictures, pastel colors and big fonts, and more focused on hard number crunching. With bit.ly's approach, as far as I have seen, you really have to bounce around link by link."

Users of the new service have pointed out that their domain name is longer than bit.ly, which is a detriment in the URL shortening business, but the company has previously stated that they have secured a number of dot US 3 character domain names which will put them at the same size or even shorter than the other popular URL shortening services, again, namely bit.ly. These additional dot US sites all have similar names and the intention is to use them as needed as a brand of family companies, under the OneCent.US brand.

"Right now it's a non-issue," said Purkins. "We've only been live since July 4th and we're still issuing 2 character shortened URLs. We'll never have a problem with ours being longer than theirs, though. We did our homework well, as in the URL shortening business at least, size does count."

"You do need to give us your email address to use our tracking, which is in Beta right now, but it is available to anyone who signs up. You can do that on the site of course, but we've even gotten phone calls. We're very hands on and sleeves rolled up right now. Our phone number is right on our home page and we don't have voice mail or an offshore bank of customer service people that you can't understand. We answer the phone ourselves.

"We're taking the dot US thing very seriously. Perhaps we've wrapped ourselves in the flag a bit, but I see nothing wrong with that. We've been called 'obnoxious' on Twitter by one grumpy guy for taking some prominent US politicians, also television, radio and print media businesses who tout 'America' or 'US' in their names for using foreign country domain extension sites. Personally, I think it's funny, but it's hard to tell a joke in this country these days for fear of who you will surely offend. Tough noogies."

Finally, Purkins pointed out that bit.ly apparently will let anyone see your link click history. OneCent.US believes their users should have privacy if they request it and users can optionally secure their own tracking data simply by providing their email address when they shorten their links. Then when they want all their own data, they can request it all or just some of it, by date range and or a number of other parameters.

"It's still a moving target," said Purkins. "The hard part is done, and we're welcoming and seriously considering all suggestions from our users. It's very exciting right now."

"People tend to cloud anything in this business with mystery. Like Twitter's new t.co's 'Resonance Algorithm.' Near as I can tell, this is a fifty cent phrase for counting how many times a link gets clicked to help determine if it's worthy enough to let the link owner advertise. The algorithm they say though is a secret, to eliminate gaming they say. Noble I guess."

"And as far as numbers like 100 million being bandied about between Yahoo and bit.ly? I repeat, our phone number is on the bottom of our home page. Ha."

If the new service takes off, the potential huge volume of data becomes very attractive for people interested in marketing. OneCent.US also lets users categorize their links into News, Sports, Entertainment, etc... and in addition offers users to optionally apply a custom page title, keyword list, and even custom content to their generated pages, something which no one else in the URL shortening business seems to have gone so far in with regard to SEO.

The site also boasts a number of other innovative options, a list of ten right now, and Purkins said, "We have six optional data elements that our users can customize and tweak their shortened links with, from adding a movie style G, R or X rating to adding their own brand name as a prefix or suffix. We figured out the other day that if we made bookmarklets for all combinations of our optional features we'd have to offer 6 factorial, or 1*2*3*4*5*6, which would be 720 different bookmarklets. Instead, we're going to let the users tell us which ones they want and add them as we go."

The site also just put up a mobile version for cell phones, which is http://onecent.us/m. The home page of the site is http://OneCent.US, and they can be reached at mailto:onecentdotus@yahoo.com, or 1-631-455-8756.

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Bill Purkins
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