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Is Bitly Breaking Its Links To The URL?

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JenniferHanserIs Bitly quietly becoming a platform company? The link cruncher rolled out Tuesday the Bitly Certified Partner Program with inaugural partners Percolate, Spredfast, Buffer, Sprinklr, IFTTT, Dynamic Signal and EveryoneSocial.

“We’re focused on platform integrations to support owned, earned and paid campaigns with Bitly’s tools and audience data,” said Jennifer Hanser, the company’s newly-hired senior director of strategy and partnerships.

Bitly used to be a barometer for how audiences share and react to content. It began as Twitter’s default link shortener in 2008. When Twitter launched its own URL wrapper t.co in 2011, it impacted Bitly, though CEO Mark Josephson claimed in a recent interview that its marketshare on Twitter “hasn’t dropped in years.”

Since then, the company has developed content reporting and analytics tools for both brands and publishers. It recently rolled out Bitly Brand Tools, which manage brand and short domains for brands like QVC and ESPN (for instance, ESPN’s shortened URL is Es.pn).

Bitly claims to encode close to 500 million links a month – many which result in cross-platform clicks. Marketers use the service (400 brands use the paid service that includes customized reporting and analytics) to have a “deeper understanding of content and where it goes,” Josephson said.

Now Bitly is looking to further connect the dots between content and paid media. The company in March partnered with marketing analytics platform Moz (which used to only pipe in Twitter data) to rank and classify link data derived from sources like Facebook, Google+, Twitter, blogs and other sites. Companies are increasingly eyeing ways to connect all content initiatives for ROI purposes; providing a means for attribution between paid, earned and owned channels will grow in importance, particularly for content output purposes.

Bitly’s recent recruiting from CRM and media shops indicate its gearing up to be a broader platform play. The company has been on a spree in recent months, notably adding Josephson from AOL last year, Hanser from Sony Entertainment, and marketing and tech talent from AOL, Salesforce.com, Buddy Media and Oracle.

Hanser said Bitly aims to be “the marketer’s constant, providing tools and data to improve campaign performance in all verticals,” Hanser said. “We’ll be [discussing our involvement in paid media] in the near future. Stay tuned.”

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