Clearspring Acquires AddThis to Bolster Reach

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Widget distribution and advertising platform Clearspring will announce this morning that it has acquired super popular social bookmarking widget AddThis. Clearspring is one of the largest widget management, distribution, and monetization platforms on the web, and serves about 4 billion widget views per month. AddThis offers a widget that makes it easier for content publishers to encourage their visitors to bookmark and share content via email and social sharing sites.

AddThis lets content publishers enable sharing of their content on a couple of dozen social sites with just a single button, and more importantly gives them statistics about how that content is being shared. For Clearspring, this is acquisition is really about data and reach.

AddThis buttons are served over 30 billion times per month, according to the AddThis homepage — though Clearspring CEO Hooman Radfar told me that AddThis serves 20 billion pages per month, a more conservative number that apparently came via comScore. Radfar told me that together, Clearspring and AddThis will have a reach of 200 million unique users per month, which would put it among the top 10 Internet properties as far as reach.

The second part of the acquisition is on the data end. AddThis is being used by a huge number of highly trafficked web properties, including TIME, Oracle, Entertainment Weekly, Topix, MySpace, FOX, ABC, CBS, American Idol, and E! Online. The data that it has presumably collected about how content is shared across the web has a lot of potential use for marketers. Radfar told me he hopes to eventually expose that sharing data via an API that will allow people to really dig into sharing trends. For example, how often are articles about Barack Obama shared versus those about John McCain? Which sharing sites are the most popular? The most popular by country? Gender? Subject?

That’s future work though, Radfar said. More immediately, Clearspring hopes to create what Radfar called an “open, universal sharing platform.” The platform would allow developers and content publishers to share any type of content — web page, application, or widget — to any social site on any device, and get stats on how that content is interacted with and shared. Eventually, Radfar told me that he plans to create a platform that would connect APIs, though he was definitely a little vague on what he meant.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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