StumbleUpon Starts Exploring, Looking More Like Search

The StumbleUpon random website browser has become a popular way to explore the web, having won more than 15 million loyal users. Now those stumblers may be using StumbleUpon in a whole new way – that looks surprising search-like.

Going Specifically Random

StumbleUpon Goes Search

On August 17, StumbleUpon announced the release of a beta feature called the “StumbleUpon Explore Box.” It’s a new sub-section of the website where you can enter a specific interest into the search box and “stumble” over to a related website that’s been evaluated by the StumbleUpon community.

The StumbleUpon toolbar stays at the top, allowing you to stumble onward to a lineup of additional related sites. The standard features of the toolbar, including the option to add reviews, share content on Facebook or Twitter, and interact with other StumbleUpon users, remain intact.

Here’s a brief video that demos the beta feature:

While StumbleUpon Explore may look fairly search-like, it’s not sorting through a full index of information or directly ranking websites. In fact, users are limited only to pre-existent interests that have been labeled in StumbleUpon. The good news is there are hundreds of thousands of those, ranging all the way from travel, to Dungeons and Dragons, to Lady Gaga.

Those who’ve used the Firefox toolbar may be used to the option to search by interest, but this new service takes it to another level, introducing thousands of new interests and millions of new websites.

Is StumbleUpon introducing a “search engine”? Not exactly, but it does compete with one niche use of search sites: browsing for random information on a topic of interest.

More importantly, however, StumbleUpon is making a move that looks beautiful for businesses. While 60,000 marketers have used the “paid discovery” program to date, the Explore Bar may be able to offer far more targeted advertising opportunities.

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