125 x 125 Pixels Ad Challenge

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Topics can sometimes grow organically as you write about them and do a little research.  The topic here was to throw out a challenge to develop the best 125px x 125px ad since I had developed one today that I thought was pretty good.  I still would be interested to hear whether you can do better than the ad on the right here.  However there’s more to all this than meets the eye.

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DiggBar Use Or Abuse

More and more people are aware of social media on the Internet.  Everyone recognizes Facebook and Twitter.  Another very popular social media service is Digg.  This is a website where you can vote on your favorite web pages.  A very significant change was introduced on the Digg Blog.  It is called the DiggBar.  Here is a short video that shows what it is all about.

The blog does list the advantages of  the DiggBar and they are considerable.  The DiggBar allows you to:

  • Digg directly on the destination site: No more awkward toggling between the story page and Digg.
  • Easily share stories: You can now create a shortened Digg URL to share on Twitter, Facebook or via email. You can also type digg.com/ before the URL of any page you’re on to create a short URL.
  • Access additional analytics: See how many times a story has been viewed.
  • View comments while on the story page: Clicking the ‘Comments’ button expands the DiggBar to show the top comment, latest comment, and most controversial without leaving the page.
  • Discover related stories: Clicking the ‘Related’ button expands the DiggBar to highlight similar stories.
  • See more stories from the same source: Clicking the ‘Source’ button expands the DiggBar to show you more Digg stories from that source site.
  • Discover random stories: Click the ‘Random’ button and you’ll be brought to an entirely new, unexpected story.
  • As always, let us know what you think. Look for the feedback button right on the DiggBar. Also stay tuned for some big changes to Digg search!

It is very user friendly and I think it will prove to be a real winner.

I became aware of it when someone sent me a message about an item by Nelson Williams entitled, Quebec Forbids English-Only Video Games in Favour of French Language.

Which only makes sense, because game developers are clamoring to translate their virtual worlds to French. The Toronto Star reports that a recent law passed in Quebec forbids the sale of English-only games if a French translation exists. This has caused a certain amount of excitement among retailers, similar to that felt by the dinosaurs right before the meteorite hit.

The Digg Shout I received gave the following link:

http://digg.com/d1nrMu?OTC-em-sh2

which produces the same article but with the DiggBar along the top of the screen.  It is very intuitive and does perform extremely well.

If it is as successful as I believe it will be, then other services will undoubtedly be affected.  Lee Mathews suggests that Digg’s new Diggbar will destroy other short url services.

It certainly seems that way.  However in the short survey when they ask for feedback, I did recommend another URL shortening service, cli.gs.  This is an excellent service which provides a host of other data and statistics.  It was developed by my friend and co-moderator at Cre8asite Forums, Pierre Far.  I believe he is currently on his honeymoon so this may be something for him to take up on his return.

Michael Arrington of Techcrunch seems to be very strong on the use of DiggBar and believes that the DiggBar Keeps All Digg Homepage Traffic On Digg.

I expect it to become my default short URL service on Twitter since it is so easy to create a short URL by simply adding Digg.com/ in front of any URL. It will redirect to a short Digg URL like digg.com/d1npNz, which is this story rendered with the DiggBar.

This will also expose a lot of new people to Digg since anyone that clicks on the link will see the toolbar wrapper with the view count, Digg comments and other information on the top. And it will also increase Digg’s overall traffic substantially – unlike other short URL services, Digg doesn’t simply redirect to the longer URL. It keeps you on Digg and shows any other site being pointed to in an iframe wrapper. You can get to the underlying URL by clicking on the X button on the top right.

Not everyone is so enamored by DiggBar  Daniel Scocco feels that The DiggBar Changes Things At Digg (Some for the Worse).  Check the link for the full argument but the gist of his concern is as follows:

Just head to Digg.com and click on one of the stories on the front page.  With the entrance of the toolbar, you are now redirected to a shortened URL of the Digg story, and the content is presented inside an iframe.  Here are some of the reasons, why webmasters and bloggers may be concerned:

  1. The iframe wrapping technique is quite old on the Web. It started in the 1990s, and many people got angry with what they called content theft.
  2. Digg takes space in the header, which is high value for advertisers. What if Digg started showing CPM ads there.
  3. The address bar no longer shows the URL of the original site so the SEO benefit is lost. Digg’s front page links are now redirects to internal Digg URLs.

Big sites like The New York Times may well have concerns.

Perhaps DiggBar’s most energetic critic up till this point is Michael Gray.  He has a number of concerns and is particularly critical of the security aspects of the DiggBar.  He shows How to Abuse the New DiggBar for Fun and Profit.

By framing everyone else’s website you never leave Digg, so the length of their user visits goes up, and it looks like their site is improving.  They con more clueless VC’s that Digg is actually a valuable website so that they want to keep wasting money investing in it.

Although his post has some humorous elements, it does reflect serious concerns that many will have if the DiggBar continues to function without change.  Hopefully from the feedback that Digg is receiving from all sides, they can identify and retain what is good.  The more worrying aspects could then be modified or removed so as not to jeopardize the interests of so many others.

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Blogging Can Be Very Profitable

Business blogging is a powerful way for a company to dialogue with its clients. If anything, it is likely that the movers and shakers among the clients are the ones most likely to take part in such dialogues. Thus a business blog is an essential part of a company’s Internet marketing program. Its effects can have a sizable effect on the bottom line.

There are many other blogs that are not so profitable. Blogging software is freely available, domains and hosting services are cheap and programs like Google AdSense can generate income without requiring any special efforts. The blogosphere is full of such blogs created solely to generate AdSense revenue. They provide little service to readers and minimal revenue to the owners.

There are shining exceptions to this, as San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer, Sam Zuckerman, points out (tip of the hat to Techmeme). Here are some short excerpts from his article:

The economics of blogging is so strong that entrepreneurs often can self-finance, which lets them tell potential investors to take a hike. TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington said he’s walked away from venture capital deals four separate times.

“Every time we almost did a round (of financing), we grew so fast the terms didn’t make sense anymore,” he said.

The emerging business model is to start by selling advertising and build from there with events, subscriptions or product sales. And with audiences growing at double- or triple-digit rates, ad prices are soaring for top blogs.

“When we started selling advertising in this space late in 2005, it was very experimental and risky. We were able to get maybe $4 or $5″ per 1,000 page views, John Battelle, owner of Federated Media Publishing, a sort of uberblog, selling advertising and carrying out business functions for a stable of 130 independent blogs said. “For the same impressions we were selling then, we are now on average $20 to $30.”

The economics of blogging is ideal with low fixed overheads and the variable cost of writers is often low. Startups do not involve massive investments with long delayed revenues. With creative ideas that appeal to the right niche market, low-cost promotional efforts can start an exponential growth in visitor traffic. All it takes is passion and persistence.

Related:
Blog Networks Bringing Home the Bacon
Blog Networks become profitable (weren’t they always?)

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