Does the future of the internet include a Google-Digg deal?

Posted by Ryan Davies on Aug 7, 2008 | Tagged as:

A couple of weeks ago it looked very much as if Google would acquire Digg (at the not insignificant price tag of $200 million). Many people in the search/social marketing world thought that the deal was pretty much done and dusted, people such as Gyutae Park, from Winning The Web, who went so far as to compose a list enumerating the ways in which the Google-Digg deal would affect the internet. Even though the deal fell through or was called off, or whatever (who knows what`s going on the world of virtual acquisitions?), Park still believes that a Google-Digg is on the cards, and he is not alone.

Park believes that a deal will affect the internet in five ways:
• Google will use Digg`s technology and community base to liven up and improve all of its features, including Google News, Google Analytics, Google Blogger and Google Maps.
• Social media will become commercial; Digg`s community will grow beyond its current clique of techno-fundis and will explode among the general populace.
• With Google`s backing, Digg will become the largest and most powerful social media site in existence. In return, Digg will provide Google with a much sought after foothold in the social media market.
• Google will use Digg`s algorithm to enhance the voting system in its search results to improve relevance and provide greater searcher satisfaction. Park believes that the future of the web lies in social media and that Google needs Digg as much as Digg needs Google to remain relevant to the next generation of internet users.
• In exchange for Digg`s technology, Google will help Digg to improve its algorithm and voting system. As a result, it will become more difficult to game Digg`s system.

After the deal fell through, and Park realised that he had miscalculated the urgency and the importance of a Google-Digg partnership, he invited 15 SEO/SEM experts to share their opinions on the matter. Almost all of them share the belief that a Google-Digg deal is inevitable, but their opinions as to why, and what effect the deal will have on the net differ widely.

Alex Delibas and Bill Hartzer, for instance, don`t believe that a deal between the two companies will have much effect on the net at all. The two companies will continue as separate entities, largely as they have before. Hartzer adds that he doesn`t think the deal will do much to increase Digg`s community or bring the social media site to the attention of a wider audience.

Debra Mastaler and Lyndon Antcliff believe that the deal is about showcasing Google`s power and domination, and that the deal actually has very little value in itself. Glen Allsop and David Wallance believe that Google would be better off trying to acquire Mixx.

Gabriel Goldenberg thinks that the deal will favour those who already use social media and social marketing aggressively in their SEM campaigns, and that those who haven`t established a tangible presence online will fall further and further behind.

Jordan Kasteler and Wiep Knol think that while Digg`s user base will grow, it will lose most if its original and most loyal supporters because its content will become more commercial and mainstream. While Roger Montti misses the bus completely by saying that social media is actually only a very small part of the internet, which is used mainly as an appliance whose purpose to inform and entertain.

I don`t know how anyone can say with any certainty that a Google-Digg deal will definitely come about. If Microsoft and Yahoo! have taught us anything, surely it`s to treat all virtual mergers and acquisitions with suspicion until the papers have been signed and the champagne flows like water.

And while it is inevitable that the internet will evolve to meet changing user needs, and while social media is growing in terms of user numbers and power, I think it unlikely that a single deal (albeit between two rather prominent companies) contains enough seismic power to alter the virtual landscape as dramatically as Parks predicted.

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