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Keeping Widgets Relevant

Posted on | December 16, 2007 | 2 Comments

By now most marketers have heard of widgets – of course not the term used in B-School to stand for the hypothetical product of a hypothetical company, but the little mini web-apps downloaded to the desktop or transported to personal web pages, blogs or social networking profiles. Once the domain of garage programmers, widgets are available by the thousands through Yahoo!, Google (and a zillion other sources). Quoting Brian Quinton in Widget’s They’re Easy in this months Promo Magazine;

…the pace of widget innovation has begun to heat up in the past year due in large part to marketers’ interest in social networks, where members commonly use personal pages to showcase their interests. Firms look at the social networking phenomenon as a branding opportunity. Getting even a small number of these evangelists to add a widget with their content, service and sometimes even a logo to a profile page means more brand impressions for very little money….

The widget strategy is most effective if a brand already fosters a sense of community… [as part of a promotion] Harley-Davidson utilized a Google Gadget offering live feeds from the annual Sturgis, SD Bike Week motorcycle rally in August…the response was “phenomenal,”… all told, 25,000 people downloaded the widget that week.

Numerous other examples of ‘branded widgets” exist from Sara Lee to Honda.

The trick according to agencies and tech companies, writes Brian Morrissey in Brand Week, is creating a widget that adds value to the user experience while building brand affinity.

What happens however, when the promotion is over? and the user is left with a widget without the relevant content? In other words, after acquisition, what is the retention strategy? The answer may just be in the data capturing capabilities of widgets deployed by for example Clearpring which last week launched a platform that enables content providers to deploy, track and analyze content assets. By tracking widget downloads, advertisers can see where the viral hubs are and see where their influencers are. Taken a step further, it is technically possible to track which content is consumed by whom. Over time this rich user demographic and behavioral data can be utilized by the advertisers and brands deploying these “content containers” to keep the content relevant.

Widgets as traditional ad units. Lots of possibilities exist including publishers, even Bloggers exporting their feeds or blogrolls which can be skinned by sponsors.


this widget designed by my widget guru friend Jim Ruga.

Clearspring announced an ad service in October that lets marketers incorporate downloadable widgets into banner ads, getting around the need to rely on users finding their widgets on the gallery pages of Google, Yahoo! et al., and then gaining 100% viral distribution of those apps. Widget ads like the one Clearspring fashioned to promote the fall launch of the CW show “Gossip Girl” come in standard banner sizes and can be served just about anywhere a banner can be placed.

With the unstoppable trends at work here – the fragmentation of the internet coupled with the rise of invitation marketing vs interruption, this is only the beginning of transportable viral advertising.


2 Responses to “Keeping Widgets Relevant”

  1. Reaching Niche Audiences: Pulling the Content - part II of a three-part series
    January 14th, 2008 @ 2:43 pm

    […] other content distribution devices like widgets. Our editor, Penelope Stockinger recently wrote a post on widgets that included a quote from BrandWeek . It pointed out that the trick for successful widget […]

  2. Reaching Niche Audiences – Consumer Pull vs. Marketer Push :
    May 7th, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

    […] there are other content distribution devices like widgets. Our editor, Penelope Stockinger  wrote a post on widgets that included a quote from BrandWeek. It pointed out that the trick for successful widget campaigns […]

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