Intel Ads Speak to Digg Readers, Even When They're Not at Digg

If you’ve spent time with me in the past few years, you’ve likely heard some variation of my recommendation to “market in the vernacular of your customers.” (More here.) By that I mean: Figure out what attracts your audience to a particular media product or platform (whether it’s Vanity Fair, MTV or Facebook), and then speak to that audience with the same grammar, tone and format as the medium that attracted them.

This isn’t new. If I was among your target audience in the late 1970s, you were likely to find me watching the groovy kids on the sitcom What’s Happening. When Dr Pepper ran commercials starring a guy dancing his way across town dressed like the kids on What’s Happening, surrounded by a group of back-up dancers that looked like extras from the show, it got my attention. The commercial was nearly as much fun as the program, only shorter. I didn’t yet have an iPad and I had recently burned out on Atari Pong; the vernacular I spoke most fluently at the time was TV, and that’s the language in which Dr Pepper spoke to me.

Fast forward to today. If your customers get their news from Digg (where I work), they are speaking a vernacular in which yellow boxes next to blue headlines help them discover content they better not miss. The bigger the number in the box, the more they are likely to pay attention — since it’s a content item that has been vetted and recommended by influencers in their community.

Brands that speak to Digg readers in the vernacular of yellow boxes and blue headlines are succeeding with the Digg audience more than advertisers running more traditional banner ads. By an order of magnitude, in fact, if you’re looking at click-through rates.

Intel-sponsored Digg CES round up

Earlier this month, Intel took the idea a step further. They used Digg Ads units (Digg-able, bury-able ads between the 2nd and 3rd story on Digg’s homepage) and IAB-sized Content Ads to drive Digg readers to page filled with news stories breaking at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The page wasn’t a collection of press releases on Intel products, or even a list of editorial stories picked by an Intel employee because it said something nice about Intel. It was a round-up of CES stories that were vetted by the Digg readers themselves. Intel’s sponsorship created something that Digg itself was lacking: One page assembling the most important gadget news from CES for the reader who doesn’t want to be distracted by any other kind of news. (You know who you are.)

Inte's Digg-powered Content Ad on CNET

And Intel’s campaign took advantage of something else, too. While nearly 40 million people come to Digg each month, they’re not the only ones speaking the Digg vernacular. Readers of most content sites on the web have noticed yellow buttons and invitations to Digg stories right there on the site they’re reading. Like a Briton coming to America and finding out that we too speak her language. So Intel took IAB-shaped Content Ads and ran them on other sites — such as Wired and CNET — that also attract Intel’s customers in a context where those customers would understand that yellow boxes with big numbers in them mean there’s socially-curated content they might want to check out.

According to Intel’s David Veneski:

“The ability to ‘Digg’ something on the Web has become a ubiquitous sign of approval from a content hungry audience throughout the Internet. With our content ads the goal was to team up with Digg to provide genuinely interesting stories coming out of CES across a wide landscape of sites where our customers seek information.

“Recognizing the aggregation of compelling content was brought to you by Intel in a social friendly, audience approved ‘Diggable’ format gave us the ability to add value to our audience’s experience rather than just paying for an impression that may or may not be of benefit to them.”

Advertising that seeks to improve the audience experience? I like it. And I’m betting website audiences will too.

(Credits: Dave Veneski at Intel; David Zamorski, Sarah Reed and Melissa Sabo at OMD; and Elyssa Wilpon, Erin Coull, Dav Zimak, Eric Hoppe, Dan Contento and Mac Delaney at Digg.)

  1. # ‘Digg’ing Intel – Value Beyond An Ad | V/Speak said: February 2nd, 2010 at 11:31 am

    [...] Digg around our new product announcement at CES.  We worked with Chas Edwards and the Digg team to create ‘content’ ads and ‘digg’ ads that offered up a great value to the customer [...]

  2. # News Alert » Blog Archive » Intel Ads Speak to Digg Readers, Even When They're Not at Digg said: February 2nd, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    [...] more: Intel Ads Speak to Digg Readers, Even When They're Not at Digg Tags: 3rd-story, between-the-2nd, bury-able-ads, content, iab, month, page-filled, story-on-digg, [...]

  3. # Bob said: February 5th, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Wow, did you get a “special” version of What’s Happening where you lived? That Dr. Pepper spot didn’t have anyone that looked like “Raj” or “ReRun”!

  4. # Chas said: February 5th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Bob–Point taken! But to me, the cast of the show and the commercial had an urban hipness that appealed to a suburban kid that didn’t get out much.

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