Make widgets work for you


iMedia Connection

By Mark Naples


Whether you’re a marketer trying something new or a publisher looking to gather more subscribers, widgets may very well play a role in your success.

If you developed a campaign that had a clickthrough rate of .001, how excited would you be? Well, if you were running that campaign on behalf of National Geographic and those clicks led to a few thousand downloads and installations of a branded widget that provided a “photo of the day,” you might be pretty excited indeed.

This was one of the cases presented and discussed during the sponsored Spotlight sessions at the iMedia Brand Summit in Coconut Point, Fla., by Joel Fisher, New Product Development for, which is making it easier to reach more consumers with widgets — and for more brands to reach consumers through these widgets has launched a widget network that the company calls “Widgnet,” and what they’re learning could influence how many advertisers and publishers engage with and woo new customers or users.

The current state of the widget market is — at best — nascent. Widgets are cool to many of us, especially those who enjoy being on Facebook and other social networking sites that encourage their use and make them available liberally. But users have generally been restricted to a walled garden or a dangerous frontier if they had any interest in them. By walled garden, I mean to imply that users can use widgets that are available from Facebook on Facebook, or from MySpace on MySpace, et al. By dangerous frontier, I mean to imply that downloading widgets otherwise on the web carries some risk.

But what if a publisher you trusted offered you the means of keeping track of something through a simple download from their site? Would that entice you to consider a download?

This is what National Geographic did, essentially creating branded, enduring evergreen inventory that its most loyal consumers voluntarily downloaded.

While Fisher has won numerous industry awards for art direction and creative leadership, he is especially well-versed in the notion of design toward an objective versus making cool things that are pretty. In other words, he readily acknowledges that while it’s cool, the Widgnet has a ways to go before advertisers or publishers will be able to exploit it as a bona fide revenue stream.

“Think of the delivery mechanisms available today, and then think about how best you might expand them,” Fisher said to the full room of iMedia attendees. “Whether you’re a marketer trying something new beyond banners and rich media, or a publisher looking to gather more subscribers and engage more with your base, widgets may very well play a role in your success.”

As one of the largest and most established ad networks, and with a flexible pricing model that would make it easy for interested buyers, seems the natural candidate to introduce this new Widgnet delivery system. Time will tell if widgets ever grow beyond the interesting, buzz-worthy stage they’ve been enjoying these past few months, but everyone seemed to agree that this approach bears watching.


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