Can Advertisers Digg It?

Digg’s announcement last week that it will launch Digg Ads, handing over control of advertisements to the users is more than the latest idea in online advertising – it’s the start of a paradigm shift.

I have a few ideas on where I’d like to see web advertising go towards in order to close the gap in revenue and improve ad engagement, and this is one. By putting users in control, not of IF they see advertisers, but WHAT advertisements they see, the publishers put the onus on advertisers to improve their creative. It gives both parties another way to measure engagement, thus more data, and more pricing models.

This is not the end all, be all. User control is one part of the equation, though this change alone could set off a chain reaction of improvements for all parties involved. Publishers are indirectly incentivizing advertisers to create engaging, entertaining ads, or few people will see their ads. Advertisers and publishers will both have it in their best interest to make sure to target the appropriate users, and should lead to a more relevant match between content and ads. Advertisers get a more effective medium, publishers earn more revenue from the improved effectiveness, and consumers presumably benefit from seeing ads of interest and can view the ads as entertainment if the creative improves.

Digg has decided to make the ads appear as regular Digg content and to have a reverse pricing mechanism, where the more popular an ad gets, the less it costs the advertisers, thus high prices will trigger the removal of unpopular ads. I’m not sold on this, and I’d like to learn more to see how they plan to increase revenue with this model. Further, its debatable if blending the ads in as content will increase or decrease engagement. They have the risk of users not identifying the ads, and bypassing them.

Overall, Digg is setting the path for one avenue online advertisers need to explore. This one change could set off a reaction that forces advertisers to adjust to what users want to see, and improve their content – because in the end, advertisements are content too. It brings users into the process so they can benefit from the ads and advertisers benefit from more users interacting with the ads, and publishers can drive more revenue, plus keep users on the site longer with less intrusive advertising.

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One Response

  1. I guess that’s not a bad idea, but how do consumers know which ads they want to see? isn’t that just pandering towards more ads that drive tons of engagement, but no product recognition? (Everyone knows the Aflac duck, but no one knows what Aflac does)…

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