Archive for the ‘Rich Media’ Category

7 tips for higher conversion rates

May 12, 2008

iMedia Connection: 7 tips for higher conversion rates

A good call-to-action is worth its weight in gold. Interactivate’s CEO offers tips to finesse your CTA.

During the infancy of the World Wide Web, when people had more time and email was a genuine novelty, “Click here” was a darned good call-to-action (CTA). It was simple, direct and easily understood by the greenest newbie online.

Fast forward 15 years or so. Using a conversion mechanism that is approaching middle age in internet years is like using a 14K dial-up modem: not exactly highest tech. If your conversion rates are stuck at single digits, try these tips to bring your CTAs up to 21st century speed.

1. Understand the anatomy of a call to action
Every CTA is made up of three parts: 1) The actual action you want your customers or prospects to take; 2) The words you use to encourage them to take that action; and 3) The physical appearance of the CTA (typography, color selection, placement on the page, etc.). You want your CTA to be outstanding on all three counts.

2. Do “this”
Sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how fuzzy some folks are about what exactly it is they want their email reader or website visitor to do. The lack of focus is usually caused by trying to cram too many CTA eggs into one hyperlink basket. The poor customer follows a link to an all-things-to-everyone page where he must search for the relevant content. Many conversions are lost to frustrating hunting expeditions. Be clear, concise and single-minded with your CTA hyperlinks.

3. Drive action with words
Self-interest is the motivating lubricant that drives most human behavior. Responding to a CTA is no exception.

Don’t just tell your prospect what to do. Tell her what’s in it for her when she does it. This isn’t the time for guessing games or cleverness. Define the benefit or set the expectation right there in the CTA in plain, unvarnished English. Focus on verbs (action words) and eliminate all fluff. “Learn More About This Product.” “Finish Reading This Article.” “Find Your Home.” “Buy the Shoes.” “Look at the Floor Plans.” “Read the Recipe.” “Compare This Product to Others.” “Join the Interest List for Monthly Updates.” All of those CTAs will yield results far superior to the generic, shopworn “Click Here.”

4. Design for visibility
Your CTA isn’t a design element interfering with the aesthetics of the webpage or email. It’s the heart and soul of your marketing effort. You don’t want CTAs that blend tastefully into the background. You want buttons and graphics that pop off the page and call attention to themselves.

Bigger is better. Brighter is better. High contrast between text and graphic is better. Larger fonts are better.

Don’t crowd your CTA, either. Surround it with enough white space to make it stand apart from the other graphic elements on the page.

5. Put it in the spotlight
Don’t make your prospect work. Put your primary CTA above the fold of your email or webpage. Test the placement in several browsers to be sure the CTA is in a prominent position with no scrolling required. If the reader does have to scroll below the fold to read all of the text on the page, there’s no rule that says you can’t repeat the CTA at the end of the message, too. A 2007 survey of email marketers conducted by the Email Experience Council revealed that 59 percent of the respondents said a CTA above the fold was more important to conversion than branding.

6. Provide options
Include text links in the body of your message to give your prospects optional paths to conversion. This will provide insurance should your graphic CTA fall victim to an email image-blocking filter. You can also explore other conversion avenues: a toll-free number, Click to Call function or even a mailing address for people who aren’t comfortable placing orders over the internet.

7. Test and refine
Tinker with the process. Test different CTA configurations against a control to see which performs better. Imagine yourself achieving 100 percent conversion rates and keep striving for improvement.

Conversion is an ongoing effort to persuade a prospect to take an action that fulfills his need and your business goal. When the action is taken, you’ve made a convert. The next step is a customer for life.

A rich media wish list

May 2, 2008
iMedia Connection
Is rich media lost?

A recent flutter of rich media vendor announcements has left me and a lot of the industry largely underwhelmed.

Here’s a quick play-by-play, followed by reasons why the rich media landscape is getting boring:

  • Burst Media / PointRoll: an ad network can now serve rich media ad units from a specific vendor.
  • YuMe / PointRoll: a video ad network can now serve rich media ad units from a specific vendor.
  • DoubleClick / Gigya: DoubleClick can now widgetize its rich media banners. Sounds like the Clearspring / PointRoll announcement — last December.
  • Eyeblaster is busy IPOing.

So once upon a time, rich media was new. PointRoll was pioneering expandables, and Klipmart was making moves on the video front. Now rich media vendors have largely commoditized duplicated products.

The fact that they’re now pursuing integration with video advertising is expected, and the fact that they’re widgetizing their banners is only interesting to the extent that marketers and agencies can make creative that a user would even want to grab and share. In fact, in a paradigm where two clicks in a hundred are considered exemplary, what smaller fraction is going to want to save the ad and take it with them?

But all hope is not lost for rich media. In fact, there are four things that could bring sexy back to rich media, as well as some encouraging signs that it’s already on its way to success.

Simplify integration

Rich media is still a labor-intensive process to integrate. With the advent of distributed media (media players, widgets, apps), things are getting more complicated, not simpler.

Less time spent on integration is more time spent on creative. Here are two examples of how to simplify rich media integration on the publisher side, which in turn makes things easier on the agencies:

The Rubicon Project
Rubicon is an ad network optimization system. Publishers drop in Rubicon’s code, and through that code, Rubicon serves ads from any number of ad networks (60 and counting) and optimizes for the highest eCPM. Whatever rich media campaigns an ad network is already running can display on the publisher’s site, meaning they don’t have to do any site-specific rich media integration. And agencies can stop worrying about preferred vendors, lag time for publishers to integrate new vendors and other obstacles. As Frank Addante, CEO of Rubicon, explains, “We don’t have any preference to an ad network or a website or any one rich media vendor. Our job is to make sure they’re all easy to use and let the best ones win.”

Panache
Panache has created the Panache Universal Media Acceptor (PUMA) that is a plug-in compatible with any Flash-based or Silverlight-based media players. For video publishers who have integrated the plug-in, they can receive ads from multiple third-party video ad networks, multiple third-party video ad servers and multiple rich media vendors through just dropping one piece of code. It cuts down on the complication and integration for publishers, which makes life easier for marketers braving video and in-video ads and rich media campaigns. Instead of many vendors connecting to many publishers, publishers (through one plug-in) can access many vendors, servers and networks.

These two are certainly not the only examples of making rich media simpler. But they’re of a qualitatively different nature than ad networks plus rich media vendor partnerships, which are important to establish but not as exciting.

“Show me the creative!”

Matt Rosenberg, group director, media and entertainment at Organic, cuts to the chase: “Why do we assume that just because it’s a new format, people care? No consumer in the world is looking to interact with the next ad format.”

Addante at Rubicon adds, “I think because people are so focused on integration and making these things work, they’re spending less time on the creative element. The content has to be compelling. People are missing that point. At the end of the day, consumers don’t care about the technology behind it — they care about the content.”

How about a marketing campaign that successfully embraces rich media, video and widget functionality? Now that would be interesting. Fortunately for media companies — especially of the theatrical and sports genres — their content is already well-suited to take advantage of those intersections. iMedia covered an exemplary Paramount Vantage campaign here.

Clearspring, a leading widget distribution platform, has rich media-enabled campaigns in progress with Sundance and TLC (Ford Sync and Bravo are launching shortly), but no word yet on how they’re performing.

And yet as long as we’re talking about CTRs in the order of a couple of percentage points, I still feel like we’re missing out on a major creative opportunity. Targeting is better than it’s ever been, we know more than we’ve ever known about who is seeing our ads, we can create any iteration of experiences, but is that the best we can do with 300×250 or 728×90 pixels?

Commit to engagement metrics

The promise of rich media is that it enables more engaging, interactive experiences between consumers and advertising messages. It’s so compelling in fact that ideally rich media creative stands on its own as an ad unit and delivers the kind of experience you’d get on a microsite.

As the industry as a whole is figuring out what happens after the click (thanks to comScore for enlightening research on the fact that the click is the tip of the metrics iceberg), and as we try to figure out what engagement means and how we should measure it, the subject is especially relevant as it relates to rich media. Rich media enables so many kinds of cool experiences, but we need to standardize (or try to standardize) how we measure its efficacy. Rich media vendors, widget companies and other players are taking steps in that direction, but there’s a burden on agencies to get involved, too.

Rick Corteville, head of digital of the EMEA region for Universal McCann, explains, “Everyone defines engagement differently. Engagement is a series of metrics that boil up into what one would consider an effective brand interaction. Agencies are copping out of the responsibility of defining that and keeping it vague. No one is trying to standardize that and say, for example, that ‘engagement is these three metrics.’ That’s an opportunity on agency and vendor sides to put a stake in the ground and spark controversy. At least it’s something other than us just speaking in the amorphous.”

Matt Rosenberg at Organic agrees it’s a task that we need to tackle, but that it’s not an easy one. If it’s now relatively straightforward to measure “audio on/off” and “play again” interaction in a rich media unit, for example, what if you could rotate a car in 3D? How do you measure that, or standardize its measurement? Rosenberg concedes, “If you can measure it against a set of standards, it’s not new.”

Kudos to VideoEgg for pioneering a new video plus rich media format (AdFrames) and throwing CPMs out the door in favor of a CPE (cost per engagement) metric. While there is a long road ahead to determine how to define engagement, and perhaps telescope pricing (depending on how long a user interacted with the unit, whether they shared it, etc.), VideoEgg at least committed to making the metrics jump. Given their favor on Madison Avenue, it could accelerate other businesses to follow suit.

A creative Renaissance

Two more interesting developments with rich media and video:

What if we pushed our conception of rich media a few steps further? If rich media technology makes otherwise static content more engaging, couldn’t rich media make otherwise linear video content more engaging? I don’t mean adding rich media overlays to video, I mean something altogether different and otherwise out there. Why limit rich media technology to ads, or even to ads-as-content? What is the possibility of rich media within the actual content itself?

Three interesting steps in that direction:

  • EyeWonder can now stream live video through its units. That could have interesting implications for location-based advertising and for live events, for example, if you were streaming live content through an ad unit to drive digital tune-in.
  • DoubleClick + Flash 9+ HD means you can now serve HD videos through DoubleClick’s rich media units (full screen optional). Epson gave it a roll with Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners. Load time for me was prohibitively slow, but you can check out the creative here.
  • Adobe Pacifica. It’s a stealth operation that is doing something with Flash and VoIP. Banners + VoIP? Now that is interesting.

Could we be on the verge of a creative Renaissance?

Comments and dissenting opinions welcome below, or contact me.

A roadmap to creative success

April 2, 2008

iMedia Connection

By Tiffany Young

Part of what makes a campaign work is appropriateness of media and message for each stage of the purchase process. Here’s how to map it out.

I recently judged an online advertising competition and I found a very clear distinction between the great work and the rest of the work. The great online ads were few and far between — even in a competition in which agencies submitted their best efforts — because doing great work is difficult (no surprise).

As I looked at the best ads, here’s what I noticed: The very best ads surprised me. And while they were unexpected, they were not irrelevant or unfocused. Most were inventive without being obtuse. They were approachable and appropriate for their target audience. And finally, the very best ads engaged consumers by putting them in control of interactivity.

So those are some simple tips, right? Easy peasy! Just go out there and invent a campaign that’s surprisingly relevant and approachable while being fun and engaging. Unfortunately, that’s only the beginning.

The beauty of online advertising is that it encompasses so much. But this can also be the ugly part. Many media plans are presented with an emphasis on rich media. All the “other stuff” like newsletters, contextual content and keywords are often treated like value-adds, because they cost less or require less time to produce.

By emphasizing the most expensive online media, it’s easy to mistake the “other stuff” as unimportant. But each component of a comprehensive online media plan is an important piece of a puzzle that can help bring consumers from awareness to purchase. Taking time to map each piece to the purchase continuum can help your creative teams craft messaging that resonates with consumers right where they are, both emotionally and in terms of how much information they have about your brand.

It seems like common sense, but I don’t see it done that often. I imagine media plans as road maps for consumers. If I get each piece of communication right in a comprehensive online media campaign, I give consumers driving directions from where they are to where I want them to be.

So let’s start with the first turn on the map: awareness.

Run-of-site and run-of-network display ads can help build awareness of your brand through multiple impressions. These ads shouldn’t be complicated. If a consumer doesn’t know about you yet, he’s probably not going to drill down into multiple tabs of an expandable rich-media ad unit. Focus on a simple, compelling message that catches the attention of consumers and leaves them with a good impression of your brand.

Now as for relevance, section placements and e-newsletters place your brand in the context of something consumers choose to view. For instance, say they’re reading a home furnishings blog. You could serve a geo-targeted display or text ad for your brand that tells them “hey remember me? You just met me. Guess what, I’m in your area — funny huh? Yeah I’m totally relevant now.” This is also the point at which to share more of your brand with consumers. Splurge on the rich-media ads with more interactivity and information for these types of media placements wherever possible.

Moving along the purchase continuum, consumers eventually get to preference. They know you, they know you’re relevant to them and in their area now, but they have other options. When they search for products like yours, the search results they get should give them a reason to prefer your brand over the others. Are you better, cheaper, faster, more exclusive or more fun? Make sure your search results tell consumers why you’re the best option.

When consumers are interested in you and your brand, you’re in a great position. Unfortunately, many brands drop the ball at this point. A media plan doesn’t normally include what happens after consumers click, so it’s easy to get caught up in planning and forget to fulfill your end of the deal. Give consumers a compelling, relevant landing page to take the next step towards purchase. Make sure they’re glad they met you, and then make it easy for them to get what they want.

Lastly, once you’ve made it easy for consumers to purchase, utilize that success by putting measures in place to analyze your website. Make sure you’re set up to track results so you can garner the most learning for next time. Remember that a consumer’s first purchase can be the beginning of a long-term relationship, or it can also be her last purchase. Strong analysis is key to turning more first-time buyers into lasting, loyal customers.

By mapping creative executions and your media plan to the purchase continuum you can get the most out of every bit of your media budget while giving consumers a great online experience with your brand.

Interactive Advertising Isn’t Confined to the Web

March 20, 2008

Most marketers tend to think of interactive advertising as existing primarily on the Web. In reality, interactive media encompasses everything from online and mobile sites to desktop marketing and countless other digital formats that can serve as a conduit for connecting with consumers.

Those conduits include digital newspapers, sometimes called electronic editions. These replicas of print versions put advertisers in the hands (or at least, on the computer and PDA screens) of smart, savvy consumers daily. They now exist for virtually every major print newspaper in the world.

At the center of this industry is NewspaperDirect, a Vancouver, Canada, based company specializing in multichannel newspaper distribution. Although NewspaperDirect started out dealing exclusively in print, digital distribution of local and international newspapers to consumers, corporations, hotels, and libraries now represents a significant portion of its business.

Historically, the advertising offered by digital papers didn’t differ much from print. Many papers still offer advertisers the up-sell opportunity of having the print ad they purchase also appear in its digital version. Keeping with their designation, digital paper ads have evolved over the years to become more interactive. An ad for a real estate company might feature a click-to-call button. An automotive brand’s placement might expand to reveal its dealership locations.

The importance of this type of interaction was top of mind for NewspaperDirect when, in October 2007, it launched Adget, a rich-media widget platform that affords advertisers even more options for engaging its captive audience of digital newspaper subscribers. With the tool, local and national advertisers can run sophisticated interactive ads that allow consumers to reserve a table at a restaurant or schedule a new-car test drive.

When an advertiser buys a print ad from a newspaper publisher, he can also opt to purchase a fully interactive Adget ad in the digital version, priced on a CPA (define) basis. The ads can include video and audio files and can be developed to function like the microsites (or nanosites) you might find in an expandable online ad.

According to Igor Smirnoff, NewspaperDirect’s director of strategic development, Adget provides a cost-effective way for newspaper advertisers to launch a conversation with their target audience. “Advertisers don’t need to compete on Google for a position. They don’t even have to have their own Web site. You get your local audience, and you get an additional feature your customers can interact with.”

While this is all well and good, Adget has something else going for it that should really pique interactive marketers’ interest: an inside track to boosting ROI (define). Because consumers must sign up (and log in) to view the digital version of their favorite newspapers, NewspaperDirect’s Adget technology can prepopulate form fields to simplify the process of interacting with an ad. A consumer interested in requesting a catalog from a local furniture store through an Adget ad need only click; the request form will already contain the information attached to her subscription profile.

Also prompting consumers to interact is the fact Adget ads don’t require them to leave the digital paper they came to read for a brand site or subdirectory online form. Like so many rich media online ads, the action unfolds completely within the confines of the unit.

“It’s about people spending time with ads that aren’t intrusive and that are of interest to them,” Smirnoff says. For Adget advertisers, it’s about purchasing cost-effective interactive placements that are more likely to incite a response.

Interactive media comes in varied forms, as do its ads. It’s nice to find a new media-buying opportunity that’s actually as interactive as the nomenclature suggests.

Heavy-Duty Ad Clickers Could Misguide Marketers

March 19, 2008

MEDIA WEEK

February 13, 2008
A study shows a disconnect between the number of clicks on ads, and the number of people behind the clicks. As a result, advertisers and marketers are advised to find ways other than clicks to optimize performance-based campaigns.

The report, “Natural Born Clickers,” commissioned by Starcom and AOL’s Tacoda and conducted by comScore, finds 16 percent of Internet users click on 80 percent of ads, and those people aren’t representative of the general online population.

“Close to 70 percent of the online universe doesn’t click at all,” said Greg Rogers, VP of sales strategy at Tacoda.

Heavy clickers, classified as someone who clicks on an ad four or more times in a month, comprise six percent of the online population and 50 percent of the clicks. Moderate clickers, Internet users who click ads two to three times per month, account for 10 percent of the online population and the additional 30 percent of clicks.

Results from branding campaigns could be miscalculated based on these findings. “If they’re optimizing on clicks they need to take a bigger picture view than just that,” said Erin Hunter, EVP at comScore. “The media community, marketers, and advertisers need to go beyond the click, their media, buying, and evaluating. They are reluctant to go past it and they need to go past the click in their buying and their planning.”

Instead of focusing on the click, the alternative is to target audiences. Rogers, whose company specializes in behavioral marketing, said media buyers have to balance metrics with how targeted the media is. Enid Burns, The ClickZ Network, reports

The Average Conversion Rate: Is It a Myth?

March 19, 2008

According to “American Heritage Dictionary,” a “myth” is “a popular belief or story that has become associated with a person, institution, or occurrence, especially one considered to illustrate a cultural ideal.” Sometimes a myth is used to inspire. So is the average conversion rate, the percentage of site visitors who make a purchase or some other transaction, reality, a myth, or a nightmare?

Dr. Pete (a.k.a. Peter Meyers) recently posted the following in response to something I wrote about conversion rates:

Whenever people talk about conversion rates, they all seem to quote an average of 2-3%. The problem is that, over time, I’ve noticed another phenomenon: no one ever seems to back this up with data. Ultimately, 2-3% conversion seems to be a bit like Bigfoot or, at best, a friend-of-a-friend statistic: “my cousin’s sister’s hairdresser said she read in Business Week that the average website gets 2-3% conversion.”

Here’s some of my response to Dr. Pete:

Let me address a couple of your points. First the 2-3% average conversion rate comes from a few different sources. The one I typically quote comes from Shop.org that releases their annual benchmark of all their affiliated members. This one is a bit harder to be sure they all are measuring in the exact same way. However, another publicly available source is the FireClick index (here every retailer is being measured with the same software and methodology). Last week, the average global conversion rate was 2.4%. This is also consistent with other non published benchmarks I have seen through out the years such as data from WebSideStory’s StatMarket, CoreMetrics Benchmarks and my 10+ years of experience optimizing website conversion rates. I can’t agree that this 2-3% is mythical.Dr. Pete concludes the discussion by making a valid argument for other key performance indicators (KPIs) and correctly states that even a small increase in conversion rate can mean substantial top-line increases for certain businesses. He also seems to suggest that some businesses may be aiming too high even when striving for the average 2 to 3 percent conversion rate. Sadly, this is true.

Why, then, is 2 to 3 percent a mythical conversion rate for some? Have we set our sights on a nightmare?

Aiming for the Gutter?

As far as I can tell, the willingness to embrace the average 2 to 3 percent conversion rate as a good benchmark of site performance is likely rooted in average direct mail response rates, as these marketers were early online adopters. From Gaebler Ventures:

One company we’ve worked with is an office supplies company. They get a 1% response rate when mailing to prospects. When they target current customers, their response rate doubles to 2%.

As for industry averages, the DMA analyzed 1,122 industry-specific campaigns and determined that the average response rate for direct mail was 2.61%.

Direct mail is a long-established marketing practice and shouldn’t be compared to online marketing. Almost all direct mail is implicit. It’s a push-marketing method.

Online, the game’s completely different. Almost all online actions are explicit, and each action reveals some degree of the intent of the person taking that action. When someone arrives at your site with a need you can fulfill, she comes with a degree of intent and is more than likely somewhere in the buying process for what you sell. Even if you factor out accidental traffic, the percentage of convertible traffic should convert at a much higher rate than 2 to 3 percent on average.

The sites that should convert 2 to 3 percent of their traffic are the exception, not the rule. I’ve long stated that sites that convert less than 10 percent should be concerned. Consider this along with the rising cost of online traffic, and the concern becomes a nightmare. Too many online marketers are spending too much money and time throwing too much unqualified traffic at their sites, then tweaking their traffic quality trying to reach the 2 to 3 percent mythical conversion rate.

If more online marketers focused their efforts on studying visitor intent and site optimization, instead of just driving traffic, their average conversion rates would be much, much higher. Many sites are wildly successful using this strategy:

Retailer Conversion rate (%)
Proflowers 14.1
Coldwater Creek 13.3
FTD.com 13.0
QVC 12.8
Office Depot 12.4
eBay 11.5
Lands’ End 11.5
Tickets.com 11.2
1-800-Flowers.com 10.0
Amazon.com 9.6

In short, most sites shouldn’t be satisfied with the industry average. Are you aiming for the gutter, or are you inspired by those that have moved well beyond the average?

Let me know how you’ve pushed passed the myth.

Widgets are the new ad kid on the block

February 28, 2008

By Elinor Mills
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

 Forget static banners. Online ads are evolving into mini-applications with video, games, and dynamic content that people like enough to embed in their own Web pages and share with others.

These widget ads aren’t commonplace yet, but they are cropping up more and more, further blurring the line between advertising and content. For some it will come as an improvement over flashing emoticons, dancing silhouettes, and expandable text boxes that cover up the item you want to read on a page.

Many people are already using desktop widgets, which are small applications that update dynamically and offer a limited function for things like calendar, clock, weather, and news or RSS feeds. Yahoo offers them, as do Microsoft and Google, who call them “gadgets.”

Then there are the thousands of widgets on Facebook, things like Slide for photo slide shows and iLike for music recommendations, which have boosted the popularity of the social-networking site.

The interactivity and viral nature of widgets make them attractive to marketers looking for new ways to expand their audience. Brand advertisers are jumping on the widget ad bandwagon at a rapid clip.

“This is an effective way for marketers to share their brand with influencers out there…It has to be compelling enough for someone to want to grab it and place it onto their page.”
–Peter Kim, president of Interpolls This week, Ford will be launching a new online ad campaign using widgets that will run on AOL sites. The widgets advertise Sync, an in-car system that lets you speak commands to use a mobile phone and digital music device. Sync is powered by Microsoft.

The Sync widget ad lets you download a free song or view a number of short humorous videos, and offers more information about the product. You can also grab the widget and embed it into other sites.

“This is an effective way for marketers to share their brand with influencers out there,” said Peter Kim, president of Interpolls, which is hosting the Sync widget ads, as well as tracking their performance even as they get passed on to blogs, RSS readers, social networks, and home pages across the Web. “It has to be compelling enough for someone to want to grab it and place it onto their page,” he said.

If the Sync widget ad doesn’t grab you, maybe the widget ad for the Warner Brothers film August Rush will. It’s got photos, a trailer of the movie, and lets you find show times for theaters near you based on your zip code.

Then there’s the Interpolls widget ad for dating site eHarmony that has rotating questions about dating. If your curiosity is piqued, you’ll answer the question and a pop-up window will tell you the correct answer (45 marriages each day are “fostered” through eHarmony, according to the widget ad), while offering you a sign-up form for a free personality profile.

Other widget ads let you buy tickets and make other transactions and e-mail the ads around. “These widget ads can help qualify users for clients,” Kim said.

Last week, PointRoll launched what it calls SnaggableAds, which are distributed over Clearspring Technologies’ Widget Ad Network. These ads can be animated cartoons, videos, and games, such as one similar to Space Invaders.

Real-time feedback
Beyond the viral distribution aspect, marketers are attracted to the tracking and reporting that Interpolls and PointRoll can offer. Interpolls, for example, offers real-time data on how many times and in what way people have interacted with a particular widget ad. It also tracks how many times the ad has been grabbed and where it’s been embedded–whether it was in a specific blog, Facebook or iGoogle. The ad companies also track all interactions within the widget ads that have been grabbed.

“We’re tracking all the impressions of the ads that were served,” said Kim. “Then we track every single response to the question or click to any of the features, as well as any interactions on subsequent panels.”

Even Google has gotten in on the act, launching a beta of Google Gadget Ads three months ago. The ads are served on Google’s content network, which reaches 800 million people, said Christian Oestlien, product manager of Google Gadget Ads.  

And Honda Civic partnered with pop punk band Fall Out Boy and created gadget ads in which people could submit questions to the band and receive answers, Kim said.

The gadget ads allow marketers a “more emotional response than they are used to in their traditional campaigns,” he said.

“In the future, this is probably going to be the model for all advertising across media, but we’re still in the early stage of the evolution of these things,” said Andrew Frank, a research director at Gartner. Down the road, we’ll see mobile widgets, TV widgets, widget-enabled devices like Chumby, and widget ads in games and other interactive content, he predicted.

However, it’s premature to say if the ads are all that much more effective than traditional banner ads, said Tim Hanlon, executive vice president at Denuo, the media futures arm of ad firm Publicis Group. “It is very early for this hyper-distribution scenario for content, let alone the advertising component of it,” he said.

One thing is certain, there will be only more “widgetization” of content and ads, particularly when the distribution is so easy. “This lets advertisers bypass media properties and communicate directly with consumers,” Hanlon said