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So What’s Going On With That New DiggBar? A Few Issues It Appears…
Earlier today Digg announced the launch of their new "DiggBar". Basically the new version of a toolbar from the early 90s, the idea is to provide an easy way to see if someone has submitted the story to Digg along with related stats and stories from other publishers via Digg. Lots of other tech journalists covered the story including Michael Arrington, Frederic Lardinois and MG Siegler. I hadn’t planned on covering this story but after reviewing the code behind the toolbar, there are some very important points that these journalists seem to have missed that I thought were worth sharing.
From checking the code, Digg is running (at least) two sets of analytics within the toolbar. One appears to come from Microsoft and the other comes from Quantcast. The Quantcast code is identical to the main site – just how will that play into Digg’s monthly numbers on Quantcast? It sure looks like each DiggBar load will also increment the counter for Quantcast 1-for-1. Should they be credited on a toolbar load as if it was a full page load? Of course not – I have an email into Quantcast to verify how these toolbars will be counted. Toolbar and widget counts and analytics are the most difficult today because of the way they load and are handled – this was a part of my discussion with ShareThis last week.
As MG noted, there are ads inside of the toolbar… how do those ads load? While they only "appear" when a tab is selected, are they actually loaded upon initial DiggBar load? I will need to confirm but it does appear that the ads are all loaded into the page when the DiggBar is loaded. It’s a pretty damn interesting question – not just for Digg but for any site that hides ads on pageloads.
Since Digg has changed their entire site to use this new DiggBar, sites that hit the Digg frontpage may benefit from massive double pageviews. Why? For users who click the big X to eliminate the toolbar, Digg is then forced to reload the exact same webpage again. Should advertisers be paying for this double pageview? If I was an advertiser on x or y site, this would certainly be something for me to consider. Of course the favorite Digg sites will love the bonus pageviews. I think there were some actions around this double pageview ad behavior in the mid-90s.
Also, Digg gets a double pageview when stories are clicked from Digg.com. You view a story on Digg and click a link (say Ars Technica). Digg loads up the bar with full goodness and grabs a second pageview from the bar load. Interesting…
Page Load Times
The DiggBar is nearly 100k in size – what does that do to page load times, especially when browsing from a mobile?
I will leave the topic of URL stealers (similar to conversation stealers) for another post as the issue is wider than just the DiggBar.
I would be careful to put DiggBar in the same category as other URL shorteners like MooURL, TinyURL or even Bitly. This is much more of a Digg play than an actual URL shortener.