Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Digg Down Deep and You'll Find Steve Ballmer's Not Monkeying Around

It is no secret that Microsoft has a serious case of Google envy when it comes to the online ad business, after the typically dominating tech giant has continued to lag behind the search king in the lucrative business.

But it should also have become crystal clear by now that Microsoft–and especially its famously aggressive CEO Steve Ballmer–is going to do anything to change that equation.

Case in point: its recent deal to be the exclusive company for Digg’s display and search advertising.


“This move gives us an advertising partner with a larger organization and a more scalable technology platform to keep pace with Digg’s growth,” Digg founder Kevin Rose wrote yesterday in his blog. “It’s important to say that we’re as focused as ever on a great user experience. So, no dancing-monkey ads, and the design will remain uncluttered.”

No dancing monkeys perhaps, but perhaps a little celebratory jig at the news site for the opportunity to play Google and Microsoft off each other and reap the rewards.

Under the three-year deal, Digg, which claims more than 17 million unique visitors a month, will likely get a big wad of guaranteed cash, much in the same way–though probably a lesser amount–Microsoft handed it over to social-networking site Facebook in the wake of Google’s $900 million deal with MySpace.

The move appears to be a blow to Google, which lost the contextual ad business it had had with Digg, as well as Yahoo, which can’t seem to get some skin in this pricey game.

Nonetheless, as with Facebook, it is not entirely clear exactly how profitable such arrangements are for Microsoft, even if they are a windfall for Web phenoms like Facebook and Digg.

Neither of these sites, for all their popularity, has yet proven itself as being able to deliver effective ad results for marketers.

But Microsoft seems willing to foot the bill for the experimentation, which could turn out to be a little less fun than a barrel of dancing monkeys.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik