I spoke with AutoSpies.com founder Donald Buffamanti and their VP of Technology Chip Grueter about their site's launch of digg-like functionality, which garnered attention from Pete Cashmore and alarm::clock. You can download the podcast by clicking here (MP3, 13.5MB, 15 minutes) or click below to listen.
This move is interesting because it comes at about the same time Digg launched their 3.0 version expanding into new categories. Digg has already shown it has grabbed significant share of the "user content generating" crowd in the technology category, and now they want to grab more.
In terms of a business model, the Digg-like functionality offers AutoSpies an opportunity to tap into a "virtuous cycle of goodness" that Digg's model has proven to create. For Digg, cycle starts with stories submitted by users being clicked on by visitors, visitors go to those websites, those websites link to Digg stories, Digg story links build up link-love, link-love gives digg higher search engine rankings, high rankings drive more traffic, and that starts the process all over again.
Of course, there are a few other factors that play a role, but in short, Digg is built to benefit from Google's PageRank algorithm and benefit from more search-driven traffic. This was acknowledged by Digg founder Kevin Rose recently on TechCrunch when he said that a story about Paris Hilton's car crash was one of the top results on Google the day after the car accident, which led to a huge amount of traffic to Digg.
In terms of revenue model, Digg has not exactly figured out what they are going to do. For AutoSpies.com, they already use "ContentLink " in their stories and have other revenue streams. The point here is that AutoSpies is pursuing a hybrid model that drives users to content AutoSpies puts online. AutoSpies could post content sponsored by companies, which would be valuable for exposure.
AutoSpies' structure, if successful, could offer it more flexibility in pursuing a variety of business models because, unlike Digg, there is already an expectation that original content authored and editorialized by AutoSpies will be posted in addition to the Digg-like functionality.
That said, it is possible the Digg focus on strictly user-driven news could be a key component of its success, but that remains to be seen. For now, AutoSpies is very happy about the attention and growth they have seen. Since the Digg-like functionality was launched, their traffic has increased three-fold.