Somehow I stumbled across Bre.ad, a URL shortening services that allows the user to insert ads into the URL resolution process, along with various analytics as well. I think this is halfway between cool and ugh. On one hand, if you have some cause to promote, why not put it in front of people who want to click on your URLs? On the other, it is going to be just a source of annoyance to those people. Yes, Bre.ad allows the unwitting viewers of your ‘billboards’ (as they call them) to click through, but that’s still a pothole on the internet highway.
The process is reasonably straightforward. You create a ‘billboard’ from an image, along with an icon, and some text. Here’s one I created to promote the upcoming Future of Work Tour I am participating in for Podio:
Then you create short URLs that will resolve to some web page — like my recent post, What About The Weak Ties? — but momentarily showing the ‘billboard’:
You can see at the top that Bre.ad’s 5 second timer had ticked down to 1, and there are pause and continue controls, as well.
For the Bre.ad user, there is a link history page:
And each page can be opened for a more in-depth details page:
I only created a single ‘toast’ but users can have many, and can select which to use when creating short URLs, which are of the form ‘http://bre.ad/067gb5’.
Bre.ad aspires to be a social tool, not just an appliance. Users can follow each other for example, and so the ‘activity feed’ is something like Tumblr or Twitter, with others’ ‘toasts’ and activities appearing in the stream:
A user can opt to use others’ toasts — basically promoting their causes or advertisements — when creating a short URL.
Here’s what I see when selecting Ben Parr’s toast for clean drinking water, for example:
Bre.ad is exactly what it says: A URL shortener that allows you to create an interstitial ad in the URL resolution. Very clever, and relatively inoffensive when the purpose is promoting a social cause, like Ben Parr’s example.
I have a feeling that we’d all get peeved if we started to see Chevy ads all the time, although that’s not really different from what we see when we land on big media sites, really. My friend @orian thought the link was bad on one post I was experimenting with, I guess because we aren’t used to Bre.ad-style ads in the middle of URL resolution. That reaction would go away after a few exposures, though.
I can imagine a few variations on the Bre.ad theme that might be interesting. For example, imagine I could promote other posts on my blog — like the hottest story there today — whenever someone clicked on one of my links pointing to any post on the blog. Alternatively, I could display other people’s posts that I liked recently.
Bre.ad style interstitial promotion could be moch more general that the simplest use case, which is advertising. But it appears to do a good job on the basic use case, already.