Exclusive URL Shorteners: Why?

A few weeks ago, I happened across NytUrl.com, a sort of TinyURL site that would only redirect to pages on the New York Times website.

Why? Well, there are a ton of reasons but the big one is that by using this shortened URL you, and your audience, can be assured they are going to NYT web pages, and not someone singing on YouTube or anything NSFW.

More recently, the popular blog TechCrunch purchased the domain Tcrn.ch, and are using it to serve short URLs for their posts (e.g. tcrn.ch/17f). If you look at the bottom of the page, by the comment form, you’ll find it right alongside the trackback URL.

While I understand the whole branding aspect behind the idea, I don’t see how serving short URLs from a secondary domain is doing you any good. Unless I spend a lot of time on TechCrunch, how would I know that TechCrunch owns the Tcrn.ch domain? The same goes for NytURL. It would probably look like just another URL shortener to most people.

On the other hand, in providing your own short URLs, you do gain a few advantages from a technological standpont.

  • You control the URLs. They will exist as long as you ensure they do. There’s no third party to shut down and cause your links to go dead.
  • You can pass the URLs directly into TweetMeme widgets, or other links that send your page to a social media site.

I can totally see the reasoning behind having short URLs from the original domain (e.g. techcrunch.com/s17f), but it seems a bit odd to acquire a whole new domain for the purpose. (Though if you have a wicked long domain like mine, you wouldn’t have much choice…)

What’s you’re take on this potential trend?