Digg Bumps Microsoft From Selling Custom Ads

Digg will begin selling premium ad inventory on the social news site directly July 1, taking over that role from ad partner Microsoft.

Under a revised agreement, the software giant will continue selling remnant and "network reserve" inventory, or higher-quality placements sold on a blind basis.

ClickZ reported Monday that Digg's internal sales force will focus on selling non-standard custom inventory along with a significant portion of its standard IAB units.

The move follows Digg's recruiting of former Yahoo executive Thomas Shin in January to build a direct sales team to better monetize the site. The company had cut 10% of its 75-person workforce shortly before announcing Shin's hiring. Digg expects to have a national sales team of five to seven reps by year's end.

"This was sort of a natural evolution of where we thought the business would go," said Mike Maser, chief revenue and strategy officer for Digg. He added the company would maintain its three-year ad partnership with Microsoft under the amended terms until October 2010.

In a statement, Microsoft said: "Digg has created its own internal sales executive team, and we respect their decision to sell their owned-and-operated site inventory directly to help further accelerate their growth as a company."

Microsoft also has a display ad deal with Facebook, in which it invested $240 million in 2007.

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