The Web is built on hyperlinks, but San Francisco startup Apture thinks there’s room for improvement.The problem: what happens when you’re reading a Web page and you want more information about a term or person mentioned in it, but there’s no hyperlink?
Today, you highlight the term, paste it into the Google search bar, open a new browser tab, follow the search result to a source, and when you’re satisfied, go back to the original story you were reading.
It’s distracting for users and bad for publishers, as some percentage of readers get distracted and never return.
Apture has been thinking and working on the problem for three years now, and today it introduced an interesting solution called HotSpots.
But it’s not a normal hyperlink that pushes readers to a new Web page — instead, users can hover over the link and see a window with information like Wikipedia entries, YouTube videos, and Google Image Search results.
You can check it out on this story from the Denver Post.
The basic technology has been in place for a while — but before, Apture would only show more information when users actively highlighted a term. With HotSpots, the links are automatically added as a particular term becomes more popular.
One possible stumbling block: users may expect Apture links to lead to advertisements and ignore them. (There are already a bunch of companies that sell ads this way, like TextLinkAds.)
CEO Tristan Harris said that Apture is trying to show readers that it’s different from these ad links. For instance, most ad links show up immediately whenever users move their mouse over them, but Apture links have a slight delay. So they only show up when you REALLY want them.
It’s an interesting idea by itself, but imagine what a big Web company like Facebook, Google, or Microsoft could do with the technology — instead of forcing users to come to them, they could take their services (and advertisements) directly to users, wherever they are on the Web.
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