Controversy surrounds social media rigger Subvert and Profit. The service, which helps advertisers get on the front page of Digg, has been a thorn in the side of the service and the bane of many of Digg’s users. Subvert and Profit, like User/Submitter and Spike the Vote, pays users for digging stories in the hope that they’ll make the front page. For the service, they charge advertisers $1 per Digg. Feeling they have Digg under control Subvert and Profit has taken dead aim at eBay’s most recent acquisition, StumbleUpon.
Although, at one point Digg was able to ban about 100 users from S&P, the main hurdle for these services has not been Digg itself, but its users. Founder Ragnar Danneskjold says their biggest problem has been with users burying their stories. In the past, Digg users have gone to great lengths for the company. When Spike the Vote went up for sale on eBay, a Digg fan bought the service for around $1,200 and handed the domain over to the company. Digg and Michael Arrington talk it over on TalkCrunch.
S&P was able to bounce back from their banning and now claims to get 2 out of every 3 stories submitted to the front page, having processed over 120 stories total. They’re even considering a front page “money back guarantee” at the $200 level where they will craft the titles and descriptions themselves in order to increase the chances of getting the 60-100 Diggs needed to get on the front page.
They chose StumbleUpon over competitors like Reddit for a few key reasons they outline on their blog. StumbleUpon makes a good target because it provides continuous traffic, has 2.6 million users, and is one of the fastest growing social media services out there. It’s also a lot easier to game because there is less transparency behind who voted “thumbs up”.
Like on Digg, S&P plans on charging $1 per positive vote. According to their numbers this is expected to be a pay per click rate of about $0.004, comparable to an advertiser paying them $80 for Digg and getting 20,000 hits. However, there’s also the constant debate over the quality of traffic from the two services. According to the company, only one or two votes would be needed on StumbleUpon to get 500 or so visitors. But I wonder if advertisers will just vote up sites themselves if they only need so few votes.