We’re proud of what the new Digg team has accomplished since we took over the site in August. We released an iPhone app, an iPad app (both featured by Apple), an email product called The Daily Digg, and a site redesign. We doubled our users, publishers are starting to notice "the Digg effect" once again, and most importantly, users think we’re on the right track. As we look forward to 2013, we wanted to take a moment and talk a little bit about our approach to monetization.
Our mission at Digg is to build the best discovery application on the web, and — critically — to build it in such a way that it can last. We don’t want to build a product, we want to build a sustainable product — one that lasts a long time and ultimately touches hundreds of millions of people. Today, our product is about 1% done, but waiting to experiment with monetization models until the product has reached some notion of maturity would be a mistake. In reality, our product will never be “finished,” and designing the business separate from the product would result in a disconnected experience that does a disservice to both.
If you spend enough time with John Borthwick, you’ll probably hear him talk about how a business should “align to the grain of the product.” In other words, proper execution of the business model should at worst have a negligible impact on the product, and at best have a positive impact on the product. Look around at the products you use everyday, and you’ll begin to see that this is a relatively high bar. For Digg, it will take time and energy (and a few mistakes) to find the model that meets this standard, but nothing is more critical to our long term success.
We’re taking the same approach to our business as we do to the product: try things, talk to users, adapt. A few months ago we started experimenting with a program called Apps We Like. The idea is simple: across mobile, desktop and web, there are lots of great developers building great apps, but most people only ever see a tiny fraction of them — typically, what happens to appear at the top of the App Store or on TechCrunch. And as developers, we know how hard it is to get the word out to relevant people in a predictable way.
So here’s how it works: each week we select an app to feature on the Digg homepage, and we label it with “Apps We Like.”
Since we can’t promote every great app, we also make it possible for developers to apply for promotion. Our evaluation process is pretty simple: is this an app that we think our users should know about? If accepted, developers pay for the promotion. If the promotion was paid for, you’ll see that it is clearly marked “Sponsored.”
Developer and user feedback has been positive so far. We’re not sure how big Apps We Like can be, but we think our users will like it, and so we’re giving it a shot.
If you’re a developer and you have a great app that our users should know about, you can apply here: Apply for Apps We Like
We’ll take this approach to each business opportunity — looking first to the value that it provides our users. We are challenging ourselves to think beyond traditional display advertising. Users don’t like it and we’re hearing more and more that advertisers don’t either. We have a lot to learn, so we’re starting early. We’re going to try some things, learn some things, and make some mistakes. Fulfilling our vision for Digg means not only building a great product, but building one that can last.
Jake + Mike
p.s. if you’re following along on Tumblr, you should check out the new Digg Tumblr account. It’s like digg.com on steroids.
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