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Bre.ad: half baked, and maybe already toast.

Bre.ad, the new link shortener promoted used by Lady Gaga, is a bad idea.  If you haven’t seen it yet, the quick recap of bre.ad is as follows:

  1. Shorten links by simply navigating to http://bre.ad/{your URL}.  It’s a little easier and simpler than visiting the bit.ly or ow.ly site.
  2. When visitors click on your bre.ad link, a “toast” created by you is shown for 5 seconds before the link it refers to is shown.   You can create an inventory of toasts that promote your own favorite sites or URLs, and each time you share a link, you advertise another site.

Try it by clicking this bre.ad generated short link.  It will show you a toast I created from my about.me profile, and then link you to back to the home page for this site: http://bre.ad/082tnk

So why don’t I like it?

Bre.ad will likely sell part of the inventory of “toasts” that they maintain to third parties. Their privacy policy explicitly says “Bread may use some of the information collected in order to customize the advertisements to your interests and preferences.” They also have a liberal cookie policy, collecting information about who clicks on each and every link (not just toasts) generated by their system.  Their terms of service require you to register for the site, and give them the demographic info they need to target you.

Bre.ad haven’t said what they intend to do with this information.  However, the information they’re collecting, when combined with their technology, enables a plague of interstitial ads to be generated during ordinary content navigation.

I’m not sure bre.ad is going to succeed in any case.  Social sharing is now the norm.  What web site doesn’t have a “tweet this” or “share on facebook” button on each page already? URL shorteners are now so ubiquitous that it’s actually more work to create a bre.ad link than other ways.  In order to succeed, bre.ad needs to become embedded in those sites, rather than focus on consumers.

Bre.ad:  a half-baked idea? burnt toast? (rim-shot, please!)

CLARIFICATION: I received a note from Alan Chan, Bre.ad founder and CEO, clarifying exactly the relationship that Lady Gaga has with Bre.ad.  Alan’s note read, in part “Both Lady Gaga and 50 Cent are early adopters who have been known to send out Bre.ad links, but neither individual is an investor, endorser, supporter or a backer of our company.”  Thanks for making that clear, Alan.

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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Jon June 19, 2011, 9:08 pm

    Another nail in the coffin – the 'toasts' can be skipped entirely using this script – http://is.gd/shortbread

    So the advertisers/marketers actually have no way of knowing if the toast has been viewed, making any analytic stats meaningless

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