Digg.com has a sweet audience. It’s the 53rd most popular web site in the U.S., attracts 13 million consumers a month and appeals to upper-educated men (you know, guys like us who spend foolishly on gadgets we don’t need). Users of the site can post articles and vote them up or down, tapping the wisdom of crowds instead of editors at The New York Times to elevate the best content.
Now Digg has launched an advertising system that works on the same voting principle. Digg will insert ads amongst its regular content, and users push the ads higher or lower based on how much they like them. If your ad scores highly, you pay less; if you’re booted to the bottom, you pay more. Dana Oshiro over at Read Write Web notes “while critics argue that the ads will simply be buried and advertisers will stop paying for placement, others called this ‘marketing democracy.’ “
Sounds fair. Make sure you use a good copywriter.
If Facebook, Digg and The New York Times had a drunken ménage à trois, their lovechild might look like True/Slant, a new ad-inside-journalism web model. The concept is simple: Journalists write; readers comment to push up articles and their own personal fame; and advertisers get to write their own pages, too. The site is heavy-up with skilled authors formerly of NYT, Financial Times and Rolling Stone, but it’s the ad integration that has Walt Mossberg buzzing.
Walt notes: “In a highly unusual move, the site plans to offer advertisers their own entire pages where they can run blogs and try to attract a network of followers. These will have the same design and features of the journalists’ pages, but will be labeled as ad content.” It’s actually brilliant integration — the ad content has the heft of the real articles, but the clear distinction — both in labeling and in authorship — keeps the gray shadiness of sponsored posts at bay. The site even gives reporters a cut of ad revenue, inspiring them to write strong authentic pieces that attract a loyal following and thus more ads.
We like it. Now if only someone would clean up the layout.