It was hard.  For as long as I can remember, I have not been one who clicks on banner ads.  Heck, in most cases, I don’t even see them (thank you FF).

A friend of mine who is an avid reader turned me onto Audible.com to download audio books.  With recent articles in BusinessWeek and TechCrunch about the financial woe’s they’re having at Digg, I remembered seeing an Audible ad on Digg and thought, why not?

Audible Ad on Digg

I’m going to be signing up for the service anyway.  Why not throw a bone to the site that consumes a ton of my time?

The results weren’t good:

Bad URL

These things happen.  I sent an email to Digg pointing out the issue and waited.  It is now 4 days later.  I surfed Digg, doing my thing, checking every time I went to a new page to see if my target ad had found me.  It eventually did, but still, it didn’t work.

Digg Ad 1Another thing I noticed was the quality and targeting on the ads.  There has to be a reason why the estimates (well over $100,000,000 through 3 years) of the Microsoft ad deal were so far above the reality (less than $10,000,000 per year).  After looking at the ads, there were more problems than just my audible ad not working.

As you can see by the ads to the left, there are concerns.  In one, you appeal to the male demographic with a pretty girl and cleavage offering images of local singles.  I would venture a guess that these ads are among the most clicked.  Still, with social media being populated by people on the “cutting edge” of Internet technology, one would think that paying for images of local singles was, well, below the curve for Diggers.

The other image points to a diet plan. It is Maria’s diet, to be specific.  While there are, I’m sure, men for whom this would appeal (I could use a few dozen pounds off after Christmas), it is clearly targeted towards women. Women are becoming a stronger force on Digg, but it’s still probably around 20% of the total demographic.

Was this all part of the original plan?  When Digg signed a 3-year plan (which is extremely long for any advertising platform, even one with a name like Microsoft) were they aware that the ads would be either off-target or lacking of the most remote chances for a paid conversion?

Here are some others that don’t really need an explanation.  Take a peek and ask, “Are these targeting me?”

Digg Ads 2

These aren’t terrible.  It could be worse.  Actually, it is worse.  Look below at a pair of ads that are clearly not designed with Digg users in mind.  First, you see the Hyundai ad.  Digg users are pretty good at noticing mistakes in images.  It comes with the territory.  For some reason, the Hyundai ad wasn’t sized right and cuts off.  That mistake is nothing compared to having a Comcast ad on the page.  This is Digg.  The community is one of the most outspoken about Comcast.  The conversion rates are most likely next to nothing for this ad.

Digg Ads 3

For those of us who are in the market to build new social media sites, it hurts us when the numbers at one of the top social media sites is so dismal.  Hopefully, potential investors will see that it’s not that these sites can’t make money.  For some reason, they simply choose not to.  With that said, here’s one last image to leave you with:

Digg Ad 4

Read more about social news sites at Social News Watch.

Written by JD Rucker
+JD Rucker is Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.