Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has acquired a startup called Apture that provides a new type of search functionality beneficial to publishers — or anyone, that is, who hates to see Web users leave a page’s content to search out related information.
Apture has developed technology that displays links to related information in the content, without forcing the reader to navigate away from the original page.
Google apparently is considering incorporating the technology into its Chrome browser.
The search engine giant was impressed by Apture’s approach to enhancing the Web browser experience, and it thinks its expertise will complement Chrome, Google said.
From its beginning, Apture has been focusing its development on providing contextual links within content, Gabe Donnini, lead analyst at Chitika, told the E-Commerce Times.
“One of its first products for publishers let them identify pieces of content that readers might want to learn more about — such as the author of an article — and then embed the relevant link,” Donnini said.
The next big leap in functionality for the company was a plug-in called “Apture Highlights,” he continued. That, as the name suggests, lets a reader highlight a word in the text, then Apture queries it in its own database.
“It provides the reader with a virtual encyclopedia of subject matter,” Donnini added.
Again, the reader does not have to navigate away from the original page — an issue dear to the hearts of all publishers.
“Instead, the information is displayed in a kind of Russian nesting doll format,” Donnini explained.
“Let’s say a reader highlighted the words ‘JK Rowling,’ the author of the Harry Potter series,” he continued. “In one window it would display all of the information about her. If the reader were to highlight the title of one of her books, a new window would pop up on top discussing the book and its plot. And so on if, say, the reader were to highlight the name of a character from that book.”
Embedding this functionality in Chrome would serve a number of purposes, starting with making the browser stickier. It would also drive user engagement and thus increase loyalty to the application.
“Google recognizes how the consumption of media is changing on the Web and is taking the necessary steps to be prepared for future,” Donnini said. “The acquisition of Apture is a big step by Google towards increasing and improving its user experience.”
Google’s latest acquisition – their 23rd of 2011 – may give them the ability to monetize every page on the Web. Sounds huge, doesn’t it? It is.
Apture founders Tristan Harris and Can Sar, along with their employees, will join the Google Chrome team, according to an announcement on the Apture.com homepage:
Since 2007, all of us here at Apture have worked hard to add new dimensions to the web. We’ve always believed that by transforming flat web pages into interactive multimedia experiences, we could enable readers to see, hear and truly experience the ideas on the page.
After enhancing more than a billion pages with our products, we think now is the best time to expand our efforts with another team just down the road that shares our vision of making the web better. That’s right — we’ve been acquired by Google and will be joining the Chrome team to continue driving innovation and creating a better user experience on the web. The modern web is an amazing platform, so stay tuned for even more enhancements to your Chrome browsing experience.
Apture’s biggest offering, the Apture Highlights browser plug-in, has already been removed from the Chrome store. All Apture plug-ins will shut down over the next month.
You can see a demonstration of Apture in the video at the bottom of this post. The browser plug-in for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari allowed users to highlight words or phrases and bring up search results including videos, news, and images in a small pop-up window. This prevents users from leaving the page, while allowing them to explore subjects in further detail.
The potential for Google is huge, as they could incorporate AdWords ads into these miniature browsers, effectively monetizing every single page viewed by Chrome users. According to Apture, they’ve enhanced more than a billion pages to date with their products. This acquisition gives Google the ability to offer this enhanced, on-page search to their 200 million monthly active users. The purchase price has not been disclosed.
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