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Tynt Gets Funding, Searchblog Gets Tynt

By - April 16, 2010

TC broke the news today that Tynt, a search interception and user behavior data company, got a big round of funding from Panorama Capital, which is also an investor in FM. I’ve installed the Tynt service on Searchblog and I’d like to get your response. I think what the service does is quite clever and useful both to publishers and users. However, it does create new user experience for those of us who cut and paste on sites, and I’m interested if folks find the new approach worthy.

The service works like this: when you copy a snippet of text from a site with Tynt, you’ll see that Tynt appends a unique URL into the pasted text (for example, see the graphic below where I’ve copied and pasted a snippet from a Searchblog post into an email).

Screen shot 2010-04-16 at 5.35.08 PM.png

This URL both redirects readers back to the location from which the snippet was pasted, as well as notifies the Tynt service of the actions taken. This gives Tynt a database of user behavior – a signal of intention – that could become quite valuable. At scale, this means Tynt can, for example, build a Digg-like view of the web – without ever having to create a Digg. It all works based on behavior most readers do all the time anyway.

This data is also surfaced to publishers, which can help them improve their editorial and user experience, among other things.

Tynt also has a pop up service (see graphic below from TC – I have not implemented this yet and until recently the company did not disclose this service publicly) that identifies when certain cut and pasted text is likely to be a signal of search intent. This is based on examining the string of words that is copied. Short phrases – of a few words, for example – usually means the reader is doing a search – they are cut and pasting the text into a search bar or another search browser window.

Screen shot 2010-04-16 at 5.50.20 PM.png

Think about that behavior – probably something you do a lot (I certainly do). What happens? Well, you are reading a story, and come across a term or word you don’t understand, or want to research more. You highlight it, go to the search bar (or open another tab with Google in it), copy the text, paste it into Google, and find yourself on another page (the Google search page.)

Who wins in this scenario? Well, usually Google does (or whichever search engine is used). They get the search, and the probable revenue from that search (as we know, many folks click on paid search links!).

Who loses? Well, the publisher, because some number of folks who execute this behavior will leave the publisher’s page and never return. And the publisher never sees that search revenue either, even though it was the publisher which sparked the search intention in the first place. One could argue that the user loses as well, because they often run off into a back and forth search game that distracts them from their initial focus on the article they were reading.

Tynt changes this game, in that it both keeps the reader on the page, and intercepts the search behavior (and potential revenue). This I find quite interesting (as does Google, I am sure, and Bing, which I bet would love to power those Tynt searches which otherwise might go to Google…). For its major partners, Tynt splits revenues with publishers, bypassing the search engines. The company already has deals in place with scores of major publishers representing billions of page view a month. It claims to be doing 100 million searches. That makes it a player, one the major engines will have to deal with.

One to watch.

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  • http://monetizethis.info Andrew Mayne

    My experience with these things has been very frustrating. I tried to reblog (with proper attribution) and couldn’t because it doesn’t play nice with cut and paste. I ended up not using those sites as a source.

    I think the mere fact that it discourages other blogs from linking to them is a major negative.

  • jkruise

    Who is powering the search behind this?

  • http://revolvingfloor.com Michael

    I’m skeptical… the pop-up is, at the end of the day, a pop-up, and that’s annoying. I don’t think people want their searches intercepted. They want to choose their own search engines. A great many of my searches are done directly in Wikipedia, using the Firefox search dropdown menu.

    Similarly, I don’t want a URL inserted when I copy text. Maybe I’m already planning to reference the site in my own way: “As John Battelle said, _____.” And this will mess that up.

    Basically, this is a play on the fears of traditional publishers who can’t stand the idea of their precious text being exposed to appropriation by the mongrels of the Internet. I wonder what Tynt advocates think of David Shields.

  • http://www.immr.org Phil Hendrix

    John, I haven’t looked at the UI for Tynt, but the underlying problem they’re addressing is a significant one for anyone attempting to do serious research on the Internet. I took a quick look at Tynt’s site and it appears as though they are focusing on site owners. Do you know if Tynt or anyone else has an app that captures the URL and appends to text/image for the end-user? I use an Info Mgr (MyInfo) that automatically captures the URL and appends it to the end of any text I cut and paste into MyInfo, so I’m sure the functionality exists. I do think there is an opportunity to make this functionality available outside of MyInfo.

  • http://feed.us rick

    I’ve come across this stuff a few times in the last couple months.

    Every time I just deleted the extra stuff and went along with my normal routine.

    Good luck to them though, it’s a nice idea.

  • anon

    My response?

    1) Tynt is a privacy invasion. EVERY SINGLE SELECTION YOU MAKE is sent to Tynt. Not every cut and paste, every selection.

    2) Tynt breaks the web. I already give plenty of attribution to those I cut and paste from, Tynt just fucks over the cut and paste buffer by raping it with their own text.

    Tynt can go to hell. You can go to hell.

    HTH

  • Mati

    Two things:

    1. As someone (or many someones) pointed out on TechCrunch, this also makes it really difficult to copy text and paste into a search bar, because the link back to the original content is pasted in with the words you’re trying to search. I presume the pop-up that appears when you highlight anything is meant to solve this problem, but it’s really just obnoxious…and what happens if you want to search in Wikipedia?

    2. There’s a company called Apture that’s doing something a little like this but much more interesting, and not nearly as invasive. See link: http://www.apture.com/