The concept described below was hard to understand first. You may or may not head of link shorteners. Let me assure you, they exist. “Okay”, you could say, “but what are they?”. Now that is a really good question.
I’ve heard of such service a long time ago, but newer gave it a lookup, until I managed to land on such site while wandering around the cyberspace. Until then, I thought this could be some sort of security thing (hiding the site’s real URL maybe?), or called alive by convenience – a machine-generated URL to a resource can be quite long, unreadable by humans, not to remember it, so it would seem logical to shorten it, the shorter link will point to the hard-to-remember-one, and will be easy to keep in mind.
The shortener site I first stumbled upon told something that did not fit into the above theories – shorten your links and earn money. Earn money? Following the above assumptions, I should pay money for using the shortening service. But this seems not to be the case.
A link shortener will generate a link from the target link you (as the user of the service) provide, and you can publish this new link as you please. The link will indeed bring the user clicking on it to the target link eventually, with a bit of ads here, some redirects there, maybe some popup windows along the way… Now this makes sense, while spreading the shortened URL you provide audience to the shortening service, and the ads they insert along the road, which they get paid for – so they will give you a part of that payment to provide more visitors trough their service. Divide and conquer, as it is often said.
To show the idea of how it works, I’ll provide a shortened link here. You can try the service by clicking on it, and follow the path the service provider given, until you reach the destination links. At the time of this writing, this should include a Captcha, 6 minutes of waiting, and a popup-window maybe, but these steps vary by time. Where is the destination of the link? As this is a demonstration, it will lead back to this article, the next paragraph, to be exact.
I guess not many people like distraction when they know what they want to find, and not landing on the site I wanted to go to surely feels I am delayed (like AD minutes in the middle of an exciting movie), but looked from a bit higher, it is an interesting way of adding some advertising content to a site, maybe before the visitors reaching it. Apart from this demo, if you find a link on my blog that seems like a shortened link, that will surely lead to an Easter Egg of some sort 😉