Feature Friday: Zemanta Thumbnails

At the tail end of yesterday's blog post was this set of related posts:

Zemanta thumbnails

A few folks asked me what was generating that set of links so I figured I would blog about it today.

I have used Zemanta's recommended links service on my blog for something like four or five years now. It works like a spell checker. As I write the post, Zemanta understands what I am writing about and recommends in text links (hyperlinks), related images to add to the post, and related links at the end of the post.

After using Zemanta for a while, USV became an investor and I joined the board in the summer of 2008. The company has grown a lot in the past four years and has turned into a nice business serving the content marketing community.

Sometime this summer, Zemanta added the ability to use thumbnails in the related links at the bottom of the post. I recently turned the feature on and that's why you are seeing these thumbnails from time to time at the end of the post.

If have a blog and want to use Zemanta, you can sign up here.

If you are wondering why linking out is a good thing, watch this video:


Comments (Archived):

  1. takingpitches

    I love this idea.A great blog post raises an interest in something. That means it raises further questions.Part of the way someone follows those questions is in the discussion in the comments section (Disqus), but part of it is finding related content, e.g., such as other people have said (Zemanta).That’s how I think of things. This gives me an alternative to doing the google search to find the related commentary.

    1. falicon

      searching directly on a blog ( or across blogs with a service like gawk.it ) is also a great way to find other related conversations and content when digging into a topic.

      1. takingpitches

        I like that! Gawk.completes the trifecta of blog follow-up!

        1. falicon

          Thanks! It’s slowly working it’s way up the charts… πŸ˜‰

  2. jason wright

    When I type ‘USV’ for a Google image search I get a bunch of… boats.When I type ‘scoot rain cape’ I get this;http://www.google.co.uk/img

    1. fredwilson

      unmanned surface vehicles

      1. JamesHRH

        That’s a fair description of some VCs……. πŸ˜‰

        1. fredwilson


        2. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Opportunity or Curiosity, though? πŸ˜‰

      2. jason wright

        then ‘union square’ it has to be – gotta own it.That’s squares as the building blocks of production, in union, in creative common cause.

  3. Rohan

    Just signed up. Stuck at the ‘resend authentication code’ part but I trust I will get there.Still not clear of the process. Do these thumbnails automatically show up on every post?

    1. Tomaž Kovačič

      If you have any problems folks at http://support.zemanta.com/ will gladly help.These thumbnails do not show up automatically. Zemanta comes in the form of a browser extension that extends the UI while you are writing the post on your favorite blogging platform (wordpress, blogger etc).The tool suggests posts relevant to your write-up and you get to choose which related articles with thumbnails you will insert in the post. Check it out http://www.zemanta.com/demo/

      1. Rohan

        I did just that Tomaz, thanks. πŸ™‚

      2. kris smith

        i probably should have added this here.if you’d like to see what fred might have been looking at while writing the scooter post with zemanta, behold: http://www.zemanta.com/part

    2. fredwilson

      No. They are recommended to you and you select them when you want them

  4. JimHirshfield

    I’ve heard of these guys.

    1. fredwilson

      what goes around comes around πŸ™‚

      1. JimHirshfield

        The view from where I’m sitting…

        1. ShanaC


        2. jason wright


      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        True.Hopefully, lol.

    2. Garrett Smith

      oh have you..

  5. Dale Allyn

    I think it’s a great element for blogs. As a visitor seeing the element, I would prefer indication that the content linked is external to the site one is on. If the links are to both internal (within the same blog) and external it would be good to know that as well.

  6. bobmonsour

    That’s a fantastic video!

  7. JamesHRH

    If you have to watch the video to figure out why linking out is good for your blog……..you need a UX refresher.

  8. William Mougayar

    Ah, so it’s a like a Sandwich Linkfest now!Zemanta Links above the comments and Disqus Discovery Links below the comments.But you didn’t do a Related thumbnail for this post.Did you post this from the air btw?

    1. fredwilson

      yes, i am on my way back from SFi think links at the end of the post will be most useful to folks who like to read the posts but not the comments. they will want to go to another post.i think links in the comments will be most useful to folks who like to find more conversations on related topicsmy view is there are three kinds of readers broadly- skimmers. mostly read headlines. if they click through, they are often gone after the first paragraph. they are best monetized by link aggregators – post readers. read posts but not comments they are best monetized by services like zemanta and outbrain- comment readers. read and engage in the comments. they are best monetized by services like disqus.online media companies need to work with all three if they want to monetize across their reader base

      1. ShanaC

        So very true, and they need to work on owning skimmers and moving them into post readers/comment readers to emphasize growth πŸ™‚ (bet you knew I would say that

        1. Abdallah Al-Hakim


      2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        I love reading the comments sections but I wonder if a blog like yours that generates lots of comments (usually >200) is a hinderance for new visitors. It is pretty intimidating and you sometimes don’t know whether your comment has already been discussed. Still, I would rather have a blog with lots of comments versus few.

        1. ShanaC

          so far, by the numbers, probably not. The comments tend to track statistically speaking with both new and repeat users. Without altering the page, we’re never going to know for sure though.

        2. Matt Zagaja

          Maybe a little but I think the community can look at it as an opportunity to help infuse the new members with the existing knowledge and also test their own assumptions. I am a fairly new commenter and have been learning a lot by reading these posts, and it even encouraged me to go back and read old posts to see what I missed before. For a new person like me, everything old is a new again and so its like finding a treasure chest.

          1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            I visit this blog for for the comments! I was just wondering how the large comment section appeared to non regular. There are more than a few gems in avc comment section and you are definitely rewarded by reading the comments.

      3. falicon

        Interesting reader breakdown…search ( especially gawk.it ) also services each of these groups needs/intent in different, but useful, ways…and is of course another major area that media companies who want to monetize should be working with and thinking about. πŸ˜‰

        1. ShanaC


      4. William Mougayar

        True. So it’s more like a Links Buffet πŸ™‚ All you can click. More clicks candy. There’s another category:- Addicts. read everything everyday from everywhere…leave comments everywhere everyday on everything…re-read everything…

        1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          Here is a funny infographic about the different addict types on social media – They need to add one for a commenting junkie πŸ™‚ http://www.bitrebels.com/so

        2. awaldstein

          Building products for addicts often ends up proving a market that is really not one. Care calling that a category.

          1. William Mougayar

            I meant as an additional segment, not as a segment of its own. If it’s the later, yes you’re 100% right.

      5. awaldstein

        I hope you are right not just about the value but about the monetizing of these behaviors.It constantly amazes me that most of the population disdains advertising, it supports only the top tier of the brands, yet as a core business model it still is the pulse of the world and the the end game of so many businesses.A weird factoid that I can never shake as wrong.

    2. JimHirshfield

      Whataya think of the new MyDisqus tab?

      1. fredwilson

        i dig it

      2. William Mougayar

        It’s a good v1. Most of it was there already but not publicized, right? Looking forward to more there, including a possible Engagio integration – I have some ideas πŸ™‚

        1. JimHirshfield

          It’s v2, actually, since there was one before this. ;-)More comprehensive and notifications stick around, as opposed to disappearing after viewed.As for Engagio…you know who to talk to. πŸ™‚

      3. ShanaC

        i like, i like

        1. JimHirshfield

          Good to hear, good to hear. (So nice, she said it twice)

          1. ShanaC

            badaboom badabing. And if you ever go into comedy, let me know

  9. matthughes

    I was one of the folks that asked – I actually thought it was a new stealthy Disqus feature.The Zemanta video is pretty clever. Cool product.

  10. ShanaC

    This post reminds me that I need to rebuild my site :/Though I have used Zemanta on it in the past, it is a great piece of tech πŸ™‚

  11. David Semeria

    Awesome video: Sesame Street with kinky undertones – total win!Well played Zemanta.Who did the video? I want one too.

    1. Greg Gortz

      haha. Thanks David. The video was done by our very own Kris Smith @kris_smith. He is open for voice work πŸ™‚ Thanks everyone for the support and kind words!

      1. BmoreWire

        Greg are you available for voice work?

      2. David Semeria

        His twitter pic looks pretty scary (I bet everyone pays *him* on time) but bookmarked all the same πŸ™‚ Thanks Greg

        1. kris smith

          think i’m in the wrong line of work.

          1. David Semeria

            Whatever you say, boss

          2. kris smith

            i prefer, chief. next time – chief.

          3. David Semeria

            Right on Chief.

          4. ShanaC

            sometimes, when you want to change careers, the sign will come from a random web community ;p

    2. Andraz Tori

      The drawings are from renowned Slovenian illustrator and comics artist Ciril Horjak.He did an awesome job and we are very proud to be able to work with him. He does amazing projects including a _radio_ show in which he draws comics.http://www.ljudmila.org/ciril/The voices are from our very own Kris Smith and his wife, you can hear the chemistry in there! The final animation production was done by our multi-talented researcher Mateja Verlic.Andraz from Zemanta

      1. David Semeria

        Thank you Andraz. The results truly do you all proud.

      2. Kirsten Lambertsen

        You guys have such a great company – I’m an admirer :-)Was looking at HubSpot just yesterday and thinking, “These guys really need to integrate with Zemanta.”

  12. JamesHRH

    The video is very, very good – mainly because what they do is so obviously useful.

  13. Guest

    with my face and voice making the rounds on this post already, i thought i will jump in.for anyone interested in what fred might have been looking at when writing the scooter post, behold: http://www.zemanta.com/part

  14. Techman

    I don’t see related links for this post….is it turned off here on purpose?And Fred: do you know why Disqus’ Discovery box does not recommend “relevant” discussions? That is why I have disabled it off of my website.

  15. Guest

    it’s all szemantic in the end.

  16. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I still get a tingly feeling when I follow a hyperlink. Teleportation, for real. Who needs Star Trek?!

  17. awaldstein

    Best video I’ve seen in a long while!

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen


  18. Prokofy

    Typepad (SAY Media) recently imposed Zemanta on bloggers which is annoying, distracting, and slows load time as you are trying to edit. It fills up with ridiculous simplified junk like all “semantic web” stuff does — it doesn’t really understand what you are writing but just fills in with a lot of links to Wikipedia. Ugh!I really hate things imposed like that, I complained to customer service, and they claimed it was opt-out. But what they mean is that you can shut it off only per-post, each time. You can’t opt-out of the entire system. They really should have made it opt-*in* to the entire service, so that you could chose to have that feature, like you would have Technorati key words (which are probably pointless these days as nobody reads Technorati any more).

    1. fredwilson

      give it a chance. it’s really good.

    2. zemanta

      Once closed it stays closed. Unless you have cookies disabled …

  19. Laura Yecies

    Great idea, super buggy in my attempt to use it in wordpress. Beware – it alters formatting, particularly pictures.

    1. zemanta

      Hey Laura!What’s going on, are you receiving any error messages or does the widget not load at all? Or is this formatting problem the only one?We would really appreciate it if you would be so kind and tell us on which blogposts do those formatting problems appear, so we can help you out as soon as possible (and also prevent them from happening again). If possible, screenshots are more than welcome!We’re looking forward to hear what’s going on because we’re really eager to help you out as soon as possible! You can reach us on our email address (support[at]zemanta[dot]com), you can follow us on Twitter (@ZemantaSupport) or visit our Support Center (http://support.zemanta.com).Thanks for the heads up and have a nice day!Best,Silvo

      1. Laura Yecies

        You can see the remnants of it on this blog post http://thekitchensync.co/20… the pictures overrun the bottom of the page. The bigger problem was that I had to remove some pictures as I couldn’t keep them from overlaying on top of each other once I added the Zemanta plug in. I wasted over 30 minutes just on trying to fix this – not acceptable. Although I like it I will remove the plugin if this can’t be rectified.

        1. zemanta

          Hey Laura!We took a look at your blogpost (and the source code of it) and did notice that you were trying to fix a problem! And although we were trying to find out what was happening at first, we couldn’t manage to reveal the initial problem, as you were describing. Which definitely makes us worried, especially since we think this might be a theme or a WordPress related problem.We would be really happy to see what was going on before your editing, a copy&paste of the HTML code (of the post where this weird aligning is happening) or maybe a short video call via the GoToMeeting app, where we can take a closer look of what’s going on (no downloading / installation required).Hope to hear more from you since we’re really eager to get to the bottom of this issue. We’ll gladly help you out with whatever we possibly can! Once again β€” we’re looking forward to your update and wish you a nice day!Best,Silvo

          1. Laura Yecies

            I’ll do this with my next postLaura Yecies | C.E.O. SugarSync Inc. | http://www.sugarsync.com | [email protected]<applewebdata: 0a54282d-f33b-4bc7-8ab2-6c071230c152=”” [email protected]=””> | 650-208-1835 mobile | 650-356-6300 direct | twitter @lyecies | blog http://www.thekitchensync.co SugarSync: The personal cloud leader that lets you access all your data, anytime, anywhere, from any device Create your own Personal Cloud! Free 5 GB SugarSync Plan: http://www.SugarSync.com/free