On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal announced a new program that will “enable its users to submit WSJ.com articles to Digg… and allow Digg users to view content currently available to WSJ.com subscribers.” After years of Journal content living behind a paid firewall, the reaction to the announcement has been expectedly euphoric.
Is Digg’s goal here just to beat Rupert Murdoch to the draw and free Journal content from it’s paid confines, or do they have an ulterior motive? After all, Journal content is not a complete stranger to Digg. A quick search reveals stories were being Dugg more then a year ago. And the inclusion of the Digg button on WSJ.com pages is far from revolutionary.
As far as I can tell, Digg hasn’t done many of these deals; actually, I believe that this is their first content-related partnership. Digg is clearly counting on the initial traffic potential of the Journal’s one million paid subscribers, but with the possibility of the Journal’s new owner dropping the paid structure, those numbers could increase to “10 to 15 million in every corner of the earth.” With Digg’s current monthly uniques estimated at as few as 18 million to as many as 25 million, the Journal’s traffic boost could move them past major web players and significantly alter the playing field.
So just how serious is this potential traffic boost to Digg? I think the custom confirmation page speaks volumes.
While Digg has previously released widgets that allow sites to list Diggs, the Journal received a custom treatment that will not only make it easier for Journal readers to Digg stories but guarantees more Journal content will make it to prime spots on Digg (such as the coveted home page or Top 10 lists).
Upon initially Digging a story readers see a dual branded confirmation page that also includes two panels, one featuring four recently popular stories from WSJ.com and four upcoming stories also from the site. I know you can do the math, but that is eight additional exposure opportunities for the Journal and Digg. Select one of those stories and you’re taken to that page on WSJ.com and the process continues.
And don’t get me wrong, the traffic boost for the Journal wouldn’t be anything to laugh at either. I don’t know if it is a perfect win/win, but I do know that there are a lot of jealous content providers out there. Either way, I’d tell executives at Digg to be expecting some phone calls pretty soon.