Digg unveiled a new ad platform on Wednesday that will give companies an ad medium that looks and feels like user-submitted stories that have been promoted to Digg's front page. Users will be able to Digg up ads they like and "bury" ones they don't using the same voting mechanism used on regular site links.
Partners for the initial roll-out of ads include Electronic Arts and Intel, the latter of which has provided sponsorship on Digg's labs pages as well as advertising on other parts of the site.
Two things make advertised Digg stories different than naturally submitted story links. One is the lack of an upcoming section for ads. For regular stories, the upcoming section consists of user-submitted links, which are sent to a holding pen. Users then vote them up to the front page. The other is a way for users to completely remove ads that don't do well, which can't be done in this case. Instead of completely removing low-ranked ads from the front page by burying them, they're simply seen less by users.
What isn't clear with this move is whether Digg learned its lesson from. By changing the way users interacted with links from the site, it made a good portion of its heaviest users, along with the publishers it was linking to, quite angry. In this case, the line between advertising and user-submitted content may looks and feel a little too close for some.
It could also spin out of control if Digg ever allows content producers to pay to have certain stories promoted, which would dilute the rewards of user voting, or having stories on the front page.
In a post on Digg's official blog, Digg's chief strategy officer, Mike Maser, said the company will continue to tweak the functionality of the ads based on user feedback. In the past the company has been speedy to change things users have chimed in on, either in its town hall sessions or Digg-related stories that make it to the front page.