Delicious, the veteran bookmarking site that last year released a rebuilt version of its service, is moving into its next phase of growth: the company has announced a new version of its API that gives it more security and control over data that is passed through the platform; and it is going to begin to run advertising alongside content on the site.
The news underscore how Delicious — once a plucky poster child of Web 2.0 that got acquired, ignored and then sold by Yahoo — may not be the traffic engine that it was in its early years. (ComScore puts the December 2013 figure at 296,000 uniques, compared to its 5.3 million figure on its fifth birthday.) But new owner AVOS — YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steven Chen’s newer venture — continues to work on ways that it might recover some traction and glory.
There is another reason for the the changes. Delicious has been on a bit of a development tear with new apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and Firefox; integration with Firefox Social API; and a Chrome extension — all free to use, like the main site. Tightening up the API and getting more commercial are not only unsurprising, but possibly essential for Delicious to support its current services and whatever it may have planned for the future.
Delicious illustrating its blog post with a GIF featuring dynamite wicks on its logo also seems to point to how the company itself views the significance of the news.
Delicious says the new API, version 1.1, will go live in the coming weeks. Delicious doesn’t give a full run-down of what features it will have but does note two key points: it will require authentication for every request to its API, and it will introduce stricter rate limits (again – no details on what those limits will be).
The main reasons for the API update appear to be general security and stronger control of Delicious data by Delicious itself.
The existing version 1.0 of the API does not require developers to provide authentication when making API calls, “essentially enabling them to access public information from the Delicious API without us knowing who they are,” save for IP address. Adding authentication will help Delicious better track developers and also what kinds of requests are being made.
As for the rate limits, Delicious does not say that a more liberal policy up to now has led to malicious security or data breaches as such — in fact, the biggest headache for Delicious in its users on the security front seems to be glitches related to the first major relaunch of the service under AVOS back in 2011.
But it makes a few references to what could possibly go wrong because of the kind of activity they already see on the platform. “Many applications that are pulling data from the Delicious API at very high rates (scraping, bots, etc.),” it notes as one example.
Delicious has chosen its API announcement as the same time to note that it will also soon launch advertising — which it gingerly refers to as “experimenting with ads.”
Just as with the API, there are no specific details or even screenshots of how these ads might look, but it does give a few guidelines for how it intends to proceed. First, the content will be “transparent to users” — which you can take either as clearly sponsored, or simply extremely in your face.
Second, the introduction of ads will be “iterative” — likely because Delicious knows that this is a sensitive issue for some regular Delicious users.
“We are conscious of preserving the existing Delicious experience and will make improvements based on feedback,” the company notes. Another reason, not noted by Delicious, is that it gives the company the freedom to try out different things to see what works.
As with API update cycles at other platforms (Twitter is one notable example from last year), these often can be traced to wider business decisions being taken by the company in question. The same can be said for Delicious. Advertisers and marketers generally require a significant amount of data on how sites are used before making spending decisions, and so the API will go some way towards being able to provide that kind of reporting.