Digg + Microsoft = ?

If you built a community around your site that showed a clear dislike for a certain company would you choose to display ads from that company? If you came across a community that was hostile to your company would spend your advertising dollars there? Neither would I, but both Digg and Microsoft think it’s a good idea.

Earlier today Kevin Rose announced on the Digg blog and Microsoft issued a press release to let us know that Digg would be switching its advertising from Google to Microsoft. If you know the Digg community at all your first reaction was probably “what the?” You weren’t alone.

I went over to Digg to check comments on the news. I was expecting a lot of anti Kevin Rose sentiment, but it wasn’t there as much as I thought. Diggers mostly responded in one of the following ways:

  • Way to go Kevin. You deserve the money.
  • What ads? I use Firefox and adblocker and never see ads.
  • Microsoft sucks and Digg is selling out.
  • Who cares? As long as it doesn’t affect the community.

The last one above is really the crux of the issue. How will the deal affect things in the future and for that we’ll have to wait and see.

Who are the winners and losers? In the short term Digg wins. I’m sure the details of the deal are very lucrative with a lot of guaranteed money. I doubt the ads themselves will pay any more than AdSense. What Digg has probably come to understand is that most diggers don’t even see the ads let alone click on them if they do.

Microsoft wins in the sense that they deal a blow to Google. It’s news that a site like Digg is leaving Google for Microsoft. That’s what Microsoft is paying for. It’s hard to think they’ll make much from the ads since we’ve established that diggers don’t see or click ads and don’t like Microsoft.

Long term I think Digg loses (maybe). I think this will drive another wedge between the community and the site. Digg the site doesn’t seem to be paying attention to Digg the community. Digg is pro Apple, pro Linux, and anti-Microsoft. Knowing that why would you make a deal with Microsoft and risk alienating your community. Most diggers really won’t care one way or another despite what they say, but should they begin to suspect that pro Microsoft stories are getting dugg more while pro Apple and Linux stories are getting buried expect them to once again take over the asylum

For Microsoft the coup of taking Digg away from Google fades over time, though it’s always a win. But forcing yourself on a community that clearly doesn’t like you doesn’t seem like a smart move. Seeing an ‘ads by Microsoft’ right above a page of content talking about how evil Microsoft is or what’s the latest security vulnerability in Windows would seem a poor way to brand yourself.

Here are a few more stories with coverage of the news

What do you think? Good move for Digg? For Microsoft? Bad move for both or either? Do you care?

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6 comments

  1. If all this means is a change of company serving the ads I agree with you. I don’t think anyone will care. If at some point Microsoft exerts some influence or Digg caters to them in any way where posts are being dugg or buried in a pro M$ way then I think it could alienate the community. Even if there’s a suspicion it could make waves.

    In general though I’m with you in that I doubt it will be all that meaningful to Digg beyond whatever money they’re getting. But they do seem to keep doing a little here and a little there to further distance the site and community. At some point all those little things add up.

  2. Truth be told, I don’t think it will make a bit of difference whatsoever…the ad ignorers will ignore the ads, which is most of the Digg community, and few people will really care who serves the ads.

  3. I do no think it is an issue of advertising. Digg is successful because of the community behind it. Ignoring what the community stands for sets a dangerous precedent here. I do not think there is a short term effect on digg however it will be interesting to see the long term results of this.

  4. Khalid I do think the advertising was the reason for the move. Not because it matters which ads are shown, but would think Microsoft is giving Digg some guaranteed money as part of the deal. There’s also speculation this is the first step in an eventual buyout.

    I agree the important issue is how the community reacts. They may remain sheep and just follow what their leader Kevin Rose tells them to think or they may rebel agains the evil Microsoft. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

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