With name change and new widgets, AddThis focuses on monetizing Big Data

Data doesn’t just flow at McLean-based AddThis. It floods.

The company, which had been called Clearspring until last week, touts a Web widget that allows people to share Internet content on their social networks. It sits on 14 million Web pages and reaches 1.3 billion people a month, the firm said.

That’s equal to the population of China.

The firm tracks every time a person clicks on the widget to post a video on Facebook or blast an article on Twitter. That generates reams of data that the company then crunches to analyze peoples’ interests and match them with relevant advertisers.

But a new suite of widgets that debuted last week could make that information more useful to Web sites — and more lucrative for AddThis — as the company aims to turn the long-held promise of Big Data into big profits.

That’s a mission AddThis shares with Internet companies such as Facebook and Google that use the information their users put online, from their gender and hometown to Web searches, to match them with advertisers.

At the same time, publishers and corporations are eager to capture an online audience as more people shift to the Internet, and social media in particular, as a source of news and information about everything from world events to products.

“The premise here is that if you have the underlying data set and can find multiple ways to activate that data ... there’s lots of opportunities for us to expand,” said chief executive Ramsey McGrory, who joined the firm in October.

“There are many companies that have a lot of data and that’s a necessary but not sufficient condition,” he added. “You have to have data and then you actually have to make it actionable.”

Trying to engage more directly

The company’s new widgets allow Web sites to engage more directly with their visitors. A “trending tool,” for example, shows which content is shared most frequently across social networks. Meanwhile, a “welcome tool” greets visitors individually based on the networks they use regularly.

“The tools you’ll see today and going forward are all about having data and turning it into something intelligible and something that can be leveraged by a publisher to be much more effective,” McGrory said.

“Which is a lot of what the promise of digital has been but it has taken us a long time as an industry to get to the point where we can actually do it.”

The company’s AddThis widget now sits on 14 million Web pages. (Courtesy of AddThis)

But Internet technology and consumer habits are always evolving, often at a rapid clip. People share more information online today than ever before, and the way they access and use the Internet has shifted as a result.

“Our understanding of the way consumers engage with digital is early and is changing,” McGrory said. “I think social is an innovation that is impacting everything that we’re doing.”

Seizing those opportunities was the impetus behind changing the firm’s corporate moniker to match the AddThis widget, said co-founder and Executive Chairman Hooman Radfar.

“When you look at the whole business, AddThis really represents where we are, which is using Big Data to unlock the power of the social Web, but it also shows where we’re going with a set of new tools,” Radfar said.

“Our product has become bigger than our company and when you have something like that, you ride it,” he said

Steven Overly is a national reporter covering federal technology and energy policy with a focus on Capitol Hill. He previously covered the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital.
Continue reading
Comments
Show Comments

business

capitalbusiness

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Most Read Business