url shortener public marketing data

Using A Legacy URL Shortener? Your Marketing Data May Be Public

Do you share your website analytics or advertising campaign performance with your competitors, customers, and the general public?

 

That’s an absurd question. Of course not! But unless you’re actively taking steps to protect that information, your answer defaults to “yes.”

 

As marketers, we assume that our go-to tools keep our analytics private. However, with some legacy link shorteners—including Goo.gl, Bitly and Po.st—your link data is viewable by anyone unless you’ve paid (in some cases, a lot!) to upgrade to a higher service tier.

 

With these legacy link shorteners, all your competitors have to do is paste your shortened URL into their browser and add a plus sign to the end of the URL to be able to access your data. We won’t publicly publish a real link from another company, but here’s a fictional example: if your link was bit.ly/ABCxyz1, a competitor (or anyone, for that matter) could paste bit.ly/ABCxyz1+ into their browser, and voilà! All of your statistics in plain view: clicks by day, referrer, geography, tracking parameters, how long it’s been running, which networks are sending the most traffic, etc..

How big of a deal is it, really?

In writing this blog post, it took fewer than five minutes to find a random Bitly link in a Twitter post, paste it into a browser, add the plus sign, and learn that their link had 23 clicks the day it went live.

 

Stats on a single link may not seem like a big deal, but it wouldn’t be hard for someone to pull the analytics on entire campaigns. Then they’d essentially be able to reverse engineer your strategies, and use YOUR insights to grow THEIR business. Worse yet, there’s no way to tell whether your competitors or anyone else has looked at your data. It’s like installing a webcam in your house without knowing who can access the feed and see what is going on inside! There’s more at stake than you might think.

 

BL.INK keeps your data private, no matter which plan you’re on – even the free tier keeps data private. The only way to see your link metrics is to log in to your secure account. Your insights are private so your competitors can’t see what’s working and mimic that in their own digital strategy, or exploit any gaps in your campaigns.

A note to Goo.gl users

Unfortunately, you’re not in the clear with your existing short links, because the “add a plus sign” trick works on goo.gl links, too. However, you can change that going forward. If you’re a Goo.gl user who’s researching alternatives due to the service shutting down on March 30th, 2019, make sure you consider data privacy and upgrade to BL.INK.

 

Ready to migrate? Chat with one of our team members or request a demo.