Friday, March 30, 2007
Digg Coupons - New Category or Yet Another Digg ScamThe question isn't quite as ominous as it may sound, Digg isn't going to create another category labeled coupons anytime soon, at least not that I know of, but there are a few folks out there taking advantage of Digg for their own profit (none of this is new). However, it might not be the same scum of the earth you're use to hearing about.
It all started a couple of days ago when I got an email from Buy.com with their weekly specials and I noticed at the bottom of each special there was a link to add the item to del.icio.us and another to digg the item. I thought that was interesting though not that unusual and figured I'd poke around a bit and see what I came up with. So I looked on Digg and found JeffWisot, a user that has posted 11 links, all of which are to buy.com specials (seriously - those are the only links he's dugg). Now he's not burning up the charts with high numbers of diggs on the links he's dugg, his highest digg has 6 diggs on it, but he is blatantly spamming digg for Buy.com, no doubt he's an employee.
Now when I headed on over to del.icio.us one might think this user would be smart enough to go under a different alias, or to post his buy.com deals with different tracking urls than the ones buy.com used in the email and on digg, but that's just not the case. Low and behold, same story second verse (err link aggregator).
Now there are a few conclusions I arrived at as a result of this little find.
1.) Buy.com is testing social news aggregators and their doing it internally because they're using the same tracking urls in all the links submitted to the aggregators.
2.) Although the other major electronics sites like Circuit City and Best Buy have not yet jumped on board, they will once a site like buy.com cracks the formula.
3.) It may be in the best interest of Digg to create a new category for Coupons because they could take a huge chunk of the market away from sites like fatwallet and coolsavings.
Reasons For My Conclusions
I. Buy is testing this internally
1.) We know buy.com is testing this internally because if it was someone who really thought the buy.com coupons were cool enough to post to digg then they probably would've posted other cool links to digg and del.icio.us as well but they have only posted the same links found in the buy.com email.
2.) Buy.com has an affiliate program and if someone was using that then they would've posted their own affiliate code url rather than the buy.com tracking url.
3.) Buy.com can track these from digg by using the referring url for each visitor as well as the tracking code params embedded in the url. That allows them to determine if someone clicked on it while reading their email or if they came from Digg.
II. Other sites will jump on the bandwagon
1.) This won't happen immediately because, as I'm sure buy.com is realizing now, the traffic from these social bookmarking sites converts terribly. At the end of the day a commercial site is all about making money and they usually do that by selling product. I doubt Buy.com has sold a single product as a result of this experiment thus far.
2.) Once a major retailer does in fact crack the code, the other retailers will be all over it. It's the same as when a porn site finds a loophole in Google's natural search algorithm, it takes a few months before it appears on mainstream sites but it will appear.
III. Digg might create a coupon category
1.) I think there's really something to this. Digg could generate a solid amount of traffic from cheapskates looking for a good deal (isn't that the definition of a geek?). The only catch is that the coupon industry is defined by it's affiliates and affiliates are secretive loners. They don't like sharing secrets about how they make money and as a result, a site like digg would shine a spotlight on the good ones and the rest would catch on much faster than large corporate sites.
2.) On the flip side however, I'm not sure digg wants to get caught up in affiliates and their schemes and sniffing out scams like this buy.com thing is what they're focused on right now.
What Does All of This Mean?
You've got to keep an eye on what's being pushed in front of you at 100mph every second of every day. People are trying to take advantage of ignorance and as technology increases and advancements are made there will always be those who prey on the weak, so don't be weak.
My point isn't to say that buy.com sucks, cause honestly I have purchased more than my fair share of products from them. I think they're just a bit ignorant with their marketing tactics and don't really understand the ramifications of their decision to have an internal hired gun post junk on digg. I'm sure they weighed the prospects of hiring someone with a high trust score versus an internal employee with no reputation and decided to do this internally because using someone externally was simply too risky. I'm sure the thought of a quasi-famous person on digg exposing buy.com's sneaky tactics was a PR nighmare that they just weren't willing to risk.
By Jason Dowdell at 08:23 AM | Comments (1)