Social News: Spotplex gets an update
Today, Spotplex pushed a new version of its news and analytics service live.
For those who are not familiar with Spotplex, it offers up a snippet of code that blog owners can install on their site. That snippet does two things. First, it provides information about its traffic to the blog owner, much like Google Analytics. Second, and most interesting, it uses traffic data from the sites that have this code snippet installed to determine the most popular stories in a variety of categories. One major complaint with the site initially was that larger sites would have a huge advantage in getting popular stories to the home page since they get a lot of traffic. Spotplex has corrected that and it now judges an article's popularity relative to the traffic that the site normally gets.
Among the other improvements it is offering today is a new geographical tracking feature, so you can see what stories are popular in different parts of the world and blog analytics tools that are customized for the various blogging platforms.
The major problem I see with Spotplex is that in order for the stories on its front page to be accurate, a large percentage of bloggers have to have its code installed. This is a vastly different approach from what Digg or Techmeme do. They give all sites an equal chance of making the front page, regardless of whether or not they know that they are participating. This results in a much more accurate representation of the most popular stories on the Internet. Spotplex, however, maintains this approach is flawed because these sites rely on the contribution of users. Spotplex is hoping that its customized analytics tools will coax blog owners into installing the code, but I'm not so sure that this is a big enough draw.
I had the chance to talk with Spotplex's CEO, Doyon Kim, about this release and how they might go about attracting more blog owners to use the service. He clued me in that they are working on some key partnerships with the people behind popular blogging tools such as Blogger and Six Apart. This could help to significantly increase Spotplex's user base, but we will have to wait and see how that pans out.
Right now, Spotplex has served up 7,000 code snips to bloggers and it estimates that it has 3,000 to 4,000 bloggers with the code currently installed. Spotplex seems to have a good idea going in theory, but in order for this to be pulled off correctly, it will have to have mass participation by the blogosphere, which will prove to be very tough.