Zemanta For Webmail

Let's start with the disclosure part. Union Square Ventures is an investor in Zemanta. I'm talking my own book here.

Zemanta is a tool that recommends content to you *while* you are composing it. Here's a post I wrote last September that explains how Zemanta works and why it's so great.

Until now, Zemanta's content recommendation service (which I use via a Firefox extension) has been limited to blogging platforms but all that changed yesterday when Zemanta added gmail and yahoo mail as supported content creation services. Now, if you have the Zemanta extension installed, when you go to gmail or yahoo mail, you'll see a button that says Zemanta that lets you use the content recommendation service while composing an email.

This demo screencast shows how you could use Zemanta's service while composing an email to a friend about a visit to Paris:

Zemanta on Gmail from zemanta on Vimeo.

If you are a regular user of Gmail or Yahoo Mail you can simply download the Zemanta extension and give it a try. If you do, let me know what you think.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
#VC & Technology#Web/Tech#Weblogs

Comments (Archived):

  1. Marc Brandsma

    Downloaded and installed for Gmail/FF.Gmail becomes pretty unstable. The zemanta window seems to conflict with the RTM one. After closing zemanta, the gmail panel can’t find its proper width.emailed you screenshot to pass on to the team.

    1. fredwilson

      ThanksI’ll get them on that bug asap

    2. Jure Cuhalev

      Thanks marc. We’re investigating this and will try to roll out fix ASAP. Your Firefox should automatically corrected Javascript so no need to do anything on your side.Jure Cuhalev, [email protected]

      1. Jure Cuhalev

        A quick update on this. We’ve identified a problem and are working on a fix already.Jure Cuhalev, Zemanta

    3. Jure Cuhalev

      Marc, we’ve fixed the RTM + Gmail issue. We’ll be doing more bug fixing in upcoming week so let us know – [email protected] if you find anything else that prevents you from using Zemanta in a way that’s the most convenient for you.Jure Cuhalev, Zemanta

  2. Seenator

    This is fantastic. Took me less than 3 minutes to install and compose a blog post through Posterous and publish it. Way cool. http://nrao.posterous.com/ – Scroll to the bottom of the 1st post.Tangential question. I have tried Tumblr, WordPress etc and Posterous and the only thing that has gotten me to start blogging effortlessly AND regularly is Posterous. Given the YC connection and your vision of everybody publishing content, I am sure you must have looked at Posterous as an investment. They also seem to be getting traction – http://siteanalytics.compet…Any announcement coming from USV soon? Twitter, Tumblr and Posterous 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      We are investors in tumblrThe feature sets are almost identicalDon’t think we could do that

  3. Farhan Lalji

    Cool stuff. What’s the business model for Zemanta? Is there an ad that get’s served somewhere? or a pro level where you can select more stuff?

  4. jacopogio

    Just tested it. Interesting concept and the Gmail option is quite unique!My observations:1) works well only in English ;-)2) links suggested are mainly just Wiki or Google Maps (perhaps for copyright reasons)3) the “Related articles by Zemanta” are too much AdSense motivated4) If I have to modify the text, once Zemanta ha been launched, I have to do it all again from the beginning ( a New single sentence option could be useful and also a back button (before Zemanta))Keep on the good work!

  5. Paul Jozefak

    Fred, I know the Zemanta guys and have been using their service on my blog for some time now. It really does help out quite a bit when writing posts. So much easier to just click and plug links, fotos and related stories into my blog. At the same time, I wonder whether mail needs this much “window dressing”? I like the ability to use it for mails written using Gmail but will the people whom I send mails to really care about so much detail in a mail? I sent a couple test mails and they look a bit too much like lots of other spam people tend to receive. I was also wondering whether inserting content and links via Zemanta won’t lead to spam filters blocking my mails more often. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how the product develops. I am sure there are people with a need for ths plug-in as part of their email process.

    1. fredwilson

      Good questions for sureThe nice thing is its an option for emails that need that capability but itis not there all the time

      1. John Ball

        I may be alone in this view, but for me the distinction between blogging and email is declining; relevancy and quality are intertwined with your brand and communications. Regardless of how I am communicating, I want to make the message both personal (audience) and valuable (content).My use of images will vary based on the recipient, who will likely know me and accept my email, while my use of embedded links will save me time, provide additional sources of relevant information and perhaps save my reader time as well.

  6. marshal sandler

    I updated my Zemanta yesterday ! When designers understand semantics general semantics and mathematics you get a Zemanta ! This integration with Gmail makes E Mail use a valuable form of communication ! In my opinion Both Gmail and Yahoo are now true social media and advertsing tools ! The ability to add content and photos may make an item worth opening in your In Box WOW ! Finally there is a Firefox Add On that make Firefox Complete ! I also use Glue from Adaptive Blue and Tumblr which Mr Wilson is involved in! It is obvious to me than Mr Wilson understands the Internet is about content creation and distribution. I can see advertisers adding product to Zemanta and using Gmail and Yahoo to deliver ! http://marshalsandler.com/2

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks MarshalI think you are attributing too much insight to me

      1. marshal sandler

        Ok then we shall attribute from now own any insight in your life to Gotham Gal , Fred I am 72years old and have done and been done by experts and had the benefit of a few great shrinks, It is very easy to study trends if your math is good ! People well that a different story., but I never confuse efforts with results ! Remember I can only evaluate your efforts as a member of the unwashed the Audience that really counts ! But I do respect the followers you have that are teches and give advice , mine is non tech only as a user , people seem to follow what makes sense ! In the words of the famous Dave Winer HEH ! He is a true work of art!

  7. BmoreWire

    How does that in-text liking and adding of pictures and recommended links affect the message’s delivery in spam filter algorithms? Reason why I’m asking is I’m working on building in an open source version of constant contact for a CMS and I think it would be great to add a zemanta plug-in but i’m wondering how that would affect email delivery.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a damn good questionI’ll ask the return path guys to weigh in on this

      1. Matt Blumberg

        A quick answer is that the reputation of links (domains mostly) in the body of an email do absolutely impact email deliverability, but probably not as much as you think. I believe the last time we studied it somewhat scientifically, link reputation impacted deliverability 6% of the time, as compared with sender reputation at 77% and content 17%. But someone smarter than I am at RP will comment on this as well.

        1. Robert Barclay

          Not sure I fit the bill as smarter than Matt but I can comment on the results of a quick test I did using our tools. The short answer is, for the existing webmail extension deliverability seems to be basically unimpacted by the addition of the Zemanta content (I tested images and links seperately). As Matt hinted at though I suspect this is a YMMV type problem. When sending from Gmail or Yahoo you inherit their reputations. The fact that most of the content I saw came from well known sites like flickr and wikipedia, besides the copyright issues, also probably makes the content a tad more trustworthy. If you tried to implement this in emails sent from your own CMS the emails would be sent with your reputation, and if you choose links from less well known sources then you could clearly cause some problems for yourself.The other issue to keep in mind is that even with their links and content many people won’t see them because of image blocking being the default in many email clients, and links being disabled in others. I guess overall my advice would be the same it is everywhere else in email. Be careful what you send to whom. Don’t send random content to people who aren’t expecting it from you and you’ll probably be o.k.. If there’s content available from Zemanta from trustworthy sources then it’s probably not going to hurt delivery of your emails, but if you don’t have enough content to be interesting on your own without that don’t hit send

          1. J.D. Falk

            Another thing to consider is that to prevent phishing attacks, many ISPs will take notice when a brand-new URL starts coming from a whole lot of different places — or is sent out by a whole lot of different users on their system. This isn’t usually a guaranteed problem, but it’s considered suspicious and could easily result in temporary delivery delays.

          2. fredwilson

            this is great feedback, thanks to the return path team for this input

          3. BmoreWire

            Interesting feedback. Essentially I have a site that runs rec sports leagues and will soon do events, classes (i.e. yoga). It functions as a billing portal, social utility, and game/event scheduler. We currently have a handful of leagues using it and will be turning facbook connect and app live in a week or two so we will probably have an onslaught of users after that. Our focus is building tools for the league commissioner/yoga instructor/personal trainor/marathon administrator and essentially they 1. present content 2. bill 3. schedule 4. sign up and gather info and 5. promote their league/class/event. So I found an open source newsletter provider PHP List and OpenEMM that we are going to try to snap on to the CMS that we are building into a CMS and since it’s open source we are looking for plug-in tools. We honestly haven’t thought through how to use Zemanta and it looks like their API is going to have some limitations and we may just have to run a script to have them add it to firefox to use it but, the question is will it kill our customer’s open rates…….and I guess from the feedback if we keep the sending url @socialroster.com we should be in the clear because everyone is opt-in and we are already white listed and spam compliant so the damage should be minimal. Anyway just wanted to paint the full picture so you knew why I was asking.Hopefully I can generate some more adoption and a richer experience if I can figure out how to plug in zemanta. Thanks for the help!

          4. BmoreWire

            Aaaand, i just found the SDK…..i think i can do what I want now. Thanks!

          5. Andraz Tori

            If you have any trouble with SDK, please do contact us!We’re still polishing it out and more feedback from integrators will enable us to get it right.It is supposed to be able to be used with any rich text editor in a matter of a few lines of javascript. But there are many edge cases.byeAndraz Tori, Zemanta

  8. John Ball

    I am “attached” to MS Outlook and the frustration that feeds what must be some obvious need to rant, but I need Zemata for Outlook!!!! If it fit neatly next to Xobni, I would be in heaven. Very cool

  9. John Gannon

    This was a pleasant surprise and definitely a logical extension for the Zemanta guys. Do you think guys like Xoopit will now move into the blogging space from the email space?Also was wondering if there are plans to have the Zemanta plugin configurable to pull in specific blog feeds and use those as suggested related links for emails or blog posts? Sometimes I find myself cutting URLs of my blog entries and pasting them into emails and it would be great if Zemanta could tee that up for me…

    1. Andraz Tori

      Zemanta already supports adding your custom feeds.Just go into preferences :)byeAndraz Tori, Zemanta

  10. Alex Mather

    I think the service is an AMAZING companion to blog software but I’m with Paul on the relevance to email. I feel like it could make a personal email look commercial and generic.Bravo on the user experience. I’m a pretty harsh critic and for a .5 release this is very polished. My only real complaint is that it doesn’t seem to auto-refresh as I write my email but I could be doing something wrong? Maybe a technical constraint? “Updating” every 3-5 seconds seems appropriate.Maybe the UI and code could be used to serve real time links and relevant ads to people chatting, etc.

  11. dafish

    If we combine Xobni and Zemanta its get pretty interesting. Right now using Zemanta on Gmail and Xobni on outlook is ugly.

  12. FlavioGomes

    Neat!. Installed quickly and worked for me in Gmail first time around. I did a quick test with an e-mail to another of my accounts. Worked fine and sure did add pizazz in no time flat. Very handy.One drawback..my spam filter doesn’t like it. Could have been the brief bit of content I put on there. I’ll tinker around and see if other formats squeezes through.Cheers, Flavio

  13. Mark MacLeod

    I tried Zemanta on my blog for a while. It is a cool tool. BUT, I removed it because I felt that If I needed suggestions about what I was writing about, then I shouldn’t be writing about that topic. I do think it could be useful for people who cover a wide range of topics and/ or write lots and could use a prod or accelerator.

    1. Jure Cuhalev

      Mark, our mission is to make the best blogging (and now also emailing) assistant. We value blogger’s editorial decisions so you still have to enable all the links. The bigger idea behind is that creating hyperlinks is annoying just as is linking and finding good complementary images.We believe that even the top experts can benefit from the fact that they can insert something with a single click, instead of having to write it. If that tag, that you’ve just decided to manually write, is one click away – why not save some time?There’s also an argument for getting inspiration from recommendations within same content domain, making your creation process easier and faster for you.But at the end of the day, it’s still up to the writer to make that blog post the best. We’re just trying to assist without getting in the way.Jure Cuhalev, Zemanta

      1. fredwilson

        not surprisingly Jure, i am with you on this. i write about stuff i know a lot about, but i haven’t always read ever related story and zemanta helps me quickly pick three of four good related links. i also don’t enjoy manually doing the hyperlinks in the text that good blogging manners would dictate. zemanta makes that a 30 second process. and sometimes, but not as often, i get a great picture recommendation too.

  14. josh guttman

    Really cool feature, which I would definitely put to use if I were still using Gmail. Congrat’s to Zemanta.What’s equally cool is the number of responses to questions and references that appear in comments on this post (in some cases zig-zagging across the globe). Neat!!

  15. Raja

    Fred,I want to try it out for my blog. Do you recommend browser plugin or server side plugin?Thanks.

    1. fredwilson

      server side if your blog platform is supported and you don’t want to use the gmail/yahoo mail featureplugin otherwise

      1. Raja

        Thank you. I use WP, so I have server side option available. I will try that.

  16. Dave Kustin

    Hi Fred – they may be on to something with this. We have been providing software for adding images and links to email since 2006. Take a look at:www.wrapmail.com & http://www.wrapmaillite.comWe are also creating an ad network using emails from college students. The first college should be up and running in the next few months and we are implementing this with Google.Dave KustinCMO, WrapMail