Posts about digg

Stop selling scarcity

You have to love – or at least pay attention to – Digg’s new advertising system enabling users to vote on ads: The more that users digg an ad, the less the advertiser pays. That’s a reversal of advertising but it’s the way advertising probably needs to go: The better your relationship (which springs from a better product and service), the more your customers will market it for you, the less you’ll have to pay to market it. That is the ideal. Advertising is failure.

Or look at it another way: We in media – including us online with our banners and buttons – are still selling scarcity – and pricing it that way – when there is no scarcity. Google sold performance instead and that motivated it to create ever more ads across more of the internet – aka Adsense – to get ever more relevant ways to be ever more effective.

I’ve been wanting for sometime to have users vote on ads and tell a site which ads are worthwhile to them and which are not. This creates data that valuable for the advertiser (who likes me, who doesn’t?) and it enables media and marketing to become far more effective (Google allowing us to correct the targeting assumptions it makes about us reduces our irritation with irrelevant ads and improves Google’s effectiveness).

When I tweeted this earlier, Angus Batey worried that popularity can be a danger, and that the better-resourced companies that can create better (more entertaining, popular) ads will win. Except I’d say that may be the case with old advertising – commercials – but it’s hard to do that with text ads on Digg: Fool me once (“Free Sex Now!”) and I’ll vote you down the next time. The Digg system rests on a Cluetrainy need to deliver authentic value and relevance – like Google’s ads.

The future of advertising needs to be selling – that is, enabling – relevance instead of selling scarce space, time, or eyeballs. The future needs to be about adding value – relevance – rather than selling scarcity (extracting what the market will bear). I’m not sure whether Digg’s system is a step in that direction; Batey’s right that there could be unintended consequences. But it’s worth watching. I hope Digg shares data and experience in its fascinating experiment.

Diggnation in New York

Last night, son Jake and I went Diggnation’s first New York — first East Coast — show. It is amazing, just amazing what these guys have built. Jim Louderback, the nicest CEO I’ve met in media and the head of Revision3, which produces the show, said that 2,000 people showed up and hundreds of them waited outside in the rain for the chance to get in. For these guys, Jake included, I think it is their generational and geeky equivalent of getting into a small club when the Stones came to town for my generation.

And I am of a different generation. I was no doubt the oldest guy there, which either made me very hip or very out of place. I was also apparently the tallest guy there. White hair sticks out at 6’4″. Some illogical geek behind me kept poking my back until I turned around and he told me to move over so he could see, which of course would only block some other short geek’s view. And there was absolutely nowhere to move; it was jammed up there in the Digg mosh pit. But you’re tall, the complainer said. Genes, dude, I said.

But I didn’t feel out of place. I watch Diggnation and know enough of the shtick. I’m a fan.

Diggnation NY

Before the show, Jay Adelson, president of Digg and chairman of Diggnation, came on stage to talk about Digg, not for very long. They said they are getting (as I remember) 26 million uniques a month. There are one million Digg users in New York alone. Last night’s crowd was a tiny but enthusiastic fraction of them. Though, of course, the media and circumstances are quite different, for comparison’s sake, that’s about the circulation of the New York Post or Daily News, both of which are bigger in New York than the Times.

Rose and company have built a real media enterprise from nothing but technology. What’s notable to me, more than its size, is the passion and loyalty of its audience, which was what was most evident last night. Could you imagine 2,000 fans standing in the rain for the chance to watch your local anchorman or hear your local editor? Is it possible for old media to inspire this kind of passion? I’m not saying it’s impossible; indeed, I’ve suggested that the Guardian should hold meetups and events in the U.S. to demonstrate to other media and marketers just how loyal their audience is.

And beer helps.

On the ride to Brooklyn, Jake and I listened to the latest TWiT podcast. Louderback was also on that and he and host Leo Laporte reminisced about their days on TechTV and how, from the closet in his home, Laporte is also building a media enterprise that rivals their old company in audience and is certainly one helluva lot cheaper to produce. Louderback also talked about the economics of internet TV vs. basic cable and the ability to focus in on a smaller and better audience and serve them well. That’s what these shows do.

During last night’s show, Zadi Diaz and Steve Woolf also announced that they are moving their Epic Fu show from Next New Networks (which is still a long way from its goal of 100 networks) to Revision3. It’s turning into a media empire. And Kevin Rose is its Rupert Murdoch.

Singing Digg’s praises

Can you imagine anyone writing a song about the New York Times or Good Morning, America, or, for that matter, Yahoo? No. But here’s a song about Digg:

Now a cynic might say that young Kina Grannis wrote this song about Digg so it would get Dugg (4,178 times, at last count) and so many young (geeky and possibly lonely) guys would discover kismet with a very pretty girl and do what she says: namely, vote for her in a Doritos contest to have her video shown on the SuperBowl. A cynic would say that but I wouldn’t. She’s too young and fresh to be grizzled.

And the lesson I prefer to take away is that the successful media brands of the future will be the ones that are owned and loved and promoted by their users (formerly known as their audience).

The fanboys can be tiresome, they always are outspoken
And if you’re listening Kevin Rose, the comment system’s broken!
I know digg isn’t perfect, but be thankful for what we’ve got
It’s just like daddy always says: “At least it’s not Slashdot!!!”

Chorus: Gotta digg, gotta digg, gotta digg
Gotta make this story big!
Did you hear that awful sound?
Another server’s down!

Anyone care to try to write lyrics for a New Yorker theme?

Whom do you Digg?

Digg, the social news site, has created pages for all the candidates and already, there’s a rush to follow and befriend them. Tops on the Republican side: Ron Paul by a gigantic margin (they are a tenacious bunch, those Paulites… or are they the Ronnies?), followed by Huckabee, Thompson, Romney, then Giuliani. On the Democratic side: Obama followed by Kucinich (!), Gravel (!), Edwards, Clinton, and Biden.

True to form, Diggers find the stories that are overlooked in mainstream media. They’re also generally befriending the candidates overlooked by MSM.

(Crossposted from PrezVid.)

I dig(g) that restaurant

Kevin Rose — looking a bit Big Brothery on a webcast to the stage at Next Web in Amsterdam — reveals that Digg is working on expanding to reviews of restaurants, products, service, images and is also working on improved means of discovery. Wherever there is “an overabundance of information” that could benefit from collaborative filtering, Rose says, Digg will be there.

Beware, newspapers, beware. Just as you all are trying to figure out ways to get people to share what they know about local restaurants, businesses, and such — an effort that supposedly has gone on for years but has yielded bupkis in results — in swoops Digg with the infrastructure to possibly make it happen. If I can Digg news, the logic goes, why anything in life, including these local businesses?

Back when I tried to get people to come in to local sites to review restaurants — using the best we had at the time, forum software — I remember the ad guys getting all hinky about bad reviews from the people. At one point, I suggested that the only real value was in recommending things so we provide the means for people to vote in favor of establishments. It was just a memo. Now here comes Digg, the recommendation engine.

Could newspapers and other local news organizations do this on their own> Or will Digg be the default infrastructure? Should newspapers and Digg consider working together? I don’t know yet. But we all know that capturing what the public knows about local businesses is a holy grail waiting to be uncovered.

Of course, this isn’t just about local. Could digging start to replace Consumer Reports? Don’t know again. Results there could be skewed by sample size (the more-often-used products will get voted on more often; a self-fulfilling result, perhaps); but put against the size of a product’s universe, it could be beneficial to see what proportion — rather than raw totals — of users vote up or down a product.

The Digg system is also best, so far, at currency: the army finds the latest. Will it work as well with more data-base-y pools of knowledge? I’m not sure. But you can bet that Digg will try.