Future Bright for Widgets, Say Media Execs

by

Media Week

Advertisers and media companies are beginning to embrace the power of widgets, particularly those thousands of mini-applications that have sprouted up on social networks like MySpace and Facebook.

Mike Shields

MARCH 12, 2008 –

Advertisers and media companies are beginning to embrace the power of widgets, particularly those thousands of mini-applications that have sprouted up on social networks like MySpace and Facebook. Those close to the phenomenon predict a robust moneymaking future for widgets, i.e. small Web-based programs or content packages that users can easily download and take with them to other sites though several basic business practices need to be established, said a group of panelists at the McGraw Hill Companies’ Media Summit in New York on March 12.In the future, content and ad portability will be so commonplace to the Web that “every consumer facing Web site will be a collection of widgets,” said Eric Alterman, chairman, KickApps, a firm that produces widgets for various companies. Alterman predicted that online ad networks will essentially become distribution networks widgets, and later boldly stated that as widgets take hold “all the money on the Internet will be in that space…and traditional media will be a leader.”

Right now, traditional media is still figuring out its role, said Dan Riess, vp, marketing and ad solutions, Turner. Riess said that CNN.com has had tremendous success in letting users grab mini-versions of the news site for their RSS readers or social networking profiles, but not every traditional media company has figured out how to uses widgets or how to cash them in.

“Right now, widgets have two values for us,” he said, namely marketing and media. While marketing is easier to swallow for media companies, said Reiss, using widgets are a form of media, which need to be monetized, “gets a little trickier. It’s not as clear.”

Riess acknowledged that as content becomes more and more portable, “It’s increasingly hard for sites to expect users to come through your door.” Yet that often means a loss of control, and often, some sort of “revenue share situation. That isn’t as exciting for a media company.”

One company that is enjoying some success turning widgets into dollars is Slide, which produces SuperPoke!, FunWall and Top Friends — three of the most popular applications on Facebook. Those apps, coupled with an extremely popular photo sharing application, give the company a user base of 170 million uniques, according to Kevin Freedman, Slide’s vp of finance & operations.

Application/widget creators like Slide have something highly compelling to offer advertisers: “an amazingly rich set of data,” said Freedman in an interview with Mediaweek. “We can target things in a much better way.”

For example, last fall Paramount created a SuperPoke! Icon for the animated Bee Movie through which SuperPoke’s 15 million users could “sting” their friends. And in the past week, the company has rolled out a SuperPoke! Icon for the upcoming movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – through which users can “whip” their friends – as well as an icon for McDonalds tied into the fast food giant’s current marketing effort. That icon provides users various ways in which they can “give props to” their various friends.

Freedman says that while Slide has spent the past few years building an audience, the time is right to focus on hauling in ad dollars. “We are on the right side of the curve at this point,” he said.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: