SaaS: Exploring the TBAURL idea.

As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I have lots of ideas for online product ideas. One of those ideas is TBAURL. The idea behind TBAURL is quite simple and builds upon what the existing URL shrinking services like TinyURL and Shrinkster do by becoming an intermediary between the user and the final destination URL.

Unique Features and Benefits

What would be different about TBAURL is that in addition to shrinking URLs you could choose a date when the generated URL would link to the final destination and until that point in time it would display an expression of interest page where visitors could input their e-mail address.

Once the final URL is specified and the “release” date has passed the URL would then redirect to the ultimate site and the person who created the link would have the opportunity to send a one time broadcast e-mail to all of those people who expressed an interest in the product.

Typical Usage Scenarios

I would imagine that the typical usage scenarios for this offering would be varied, but these are the ones that seem most obvious to me:

  • Bloggers building buzz.
  • Marketing staff writing newsletters.
  • Web masters preparing for a new launch.

The system would have to be pretty simple to use so I’m imagining some pretty simple pages (lots of white-space). For the person creating the TBAURL, I would imagine that they just visit a page, enter some descriptive text as well as some other simple options and then click “create”. The would be shown the generated TBAURL instantly but also e-mailed a management URL where they could change it and coordinate the response to the various EOI’s.

For the end-user, their experience would be even more simple. They click a TBAURL somewhere and get bounced to a TBAURL landing page. They can read the descriptive text provided by the TBAURL creator and then just punch in their e-mail address. They would be sent an e-mail thanking them. When the final destination URL is provided they may be contacted again.

Commercialisation

Good question. I’ve been careful not to use the word monetisation here (a not because it isn’t actually a word anyway). The reality is that this service would really only be able to make money off advertising, or, by extension the disablement of advertising (where TBAURL creators may a small premium for a page without advertisements).

Still – it would be interesting to understand the kind of revenue that a site like TinyURL makes off its Google banners.

Initial Thoughts

I think the usefulness of this site is moderate. I’ve had a need for something like this a few times myself as I’ve been blogging. The cost of setting up something like this would be relatively low, but the reward from a commercial point of view could also be low (pending more research). Another angle on this is the SaaS perspective. Building something like this would help debug some aspects of pulling together a SaaS offering around provisioning hosting with a service like GoGrid or EC2 and integrating that with payment services (like Paypal or FPS) and flowing that information back into a hosted financial package like Saasu.

As a demonstration I think that I’ll walk through the process of setting up an online entity (at least from an Australian point of view).

2 thoughts on “SaaS: Exploring the TBAURL idea.

  1. Angus McDonald

    Mitch,

    Monetising your idea is the all important test for those of us with real (well-paying) jobs.

    Your idea has some interest for content creators who don’t know how to do this themselves, but anyone using a reasonable WCMS can do something similar out of the box – for example, you put up a page announcing that “X is coming soon, register if you want to know more”, the user enters their email address and you then spam them when your page goes live.

    So you might have a tool that replaces the standard Beta page coding that most new apps use, but other than some very lazy marketers, is there really a market for this?

    To make it fly you would need some measure of trust/worth to be associated with your URL that marketers would like to piggyback their unknown URLs on top of … kind of like the All Heart idea from the movie Hancock. Get someone to put TBAURL on the moon and I reckon you’ve got a winner! ;D

    Keep up the good ideas though, you never know what might work …
    Angus

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