CityPages Can’t Get Enough Cheap Digg Traffic

Back on Feb 5th, I posted a story about how Village Voice Media’s various online properties work together to cross-promote each other’s stories on Digg. That happened to be the same day that CityPages’ Emily Kaiser stopped using Digg.

Emily Kaiser's Diggs by Day to Date

At least that was the short-term case. Two months later, she Dugg two things, took another month off, and is now back in the gaming game.

Emily Kaiser's Diggs by Month

Village Voice Media lost their national ringleader for this type of activity, Keith Plocek back in April. You may remember him as the dude that pretended to be a girl on Digg to increase page views on VVM properties.

But after some regrouping, it looks like VVM is back to its old tricks on Digg, seeking out as much drive-by traffic as they can get to their reblogged stories from other news sites.

What confuses me about this strategy is the following snippet from Kelsey Group where Village Voice Media’s COO, Scott Tobias attempts to explain the value VVM properties provide:

“National Web efforts have been decimated by the digital networks,” he says. That makes it hard to leverage the strong demographic appeal that targeted media sites still do better than anyone else.

It’s hard to tell for sure whether it’s Mr. Tobias or Kelsey’s author, Peter Krasilovsky, who’s describing the “strong demographic appeal” that VVM’s properties provide. VVM’s digital strategy seems to be based on passing through as much cheap traffic as possible from Digg rather than building large, loyal, local audiences. Perhaps that’s what advertisers are looking for, but it seems to be out of line with how VVM positions itself in other channels such as print, where they really do have large, local, local audiences.

6 thoughts on “CityPages Can’t Get Enough Cheap Digg Traffic”

  1. Call me clueless, but isn’t this the whole point of Digg?

    No one ever mentions Digg to me unless they’re trying to game Digg and inflate their ranking which does appear to be the entire point of Digg.

  2. Fair point, Mark. It’s the disconnect between how CityPages described themselves vs. what they’re actually doing that makes this interesting to me. For example, here is how CityPages is described on Voice Media Group’s site: is the dominant destination website for young, engaged Twin Cities residents. Featuring insightful news stories you can’t find anywhere else, daily breaking content, stellar slideshow photography and lifestyle features such as Drink of the Week, the site regularly bests competitors’ traffic totals. reaches coveted youth demographics with our expansive music and nightlife coverage.

    That makes it sound like the site has original reporting and depth. To me, that doesn’t reconcile with their insightful reblogging of “someone got drunk in Wisconsin” stories with an added layer of snark paired with a stolen photo. Digg traffic also has nearly nothing to do with “engaged Twin Cities residents”.

  3. And I certainly don’t mean to imply City Pages has any business gaming traffic.

    When we were launching Babelogue, I was repeatedly instructed to spam the top blogs to see if I could attract some links in.

    To this day there are some top lefty bloggers who routinely ignore any emails from me and I don’t blame them.

    You build traffic by creating interesting content. CP’s gotten a little better over the last year or so, but they still have a ways to go. Quite a ways to go.

  4. “You build traffic by creating interesting content.”

    But that’s expensive and takes skilled workers.

    There is a ton of value in the creation of content but its hard to extract. It’s much easier to extract small amounts of value on a massive scale, from the cataloging and aggregation of said content(google,VVM, Gawker,Digg bringmn,newsbobber,twitter,etc).

    (oversimplification and devils advocate position)

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