Widgets, The New, New Thing!
Widgets are the rage! Widgets are the new, new thing! The new, new must-have! Widgets are web 7.0! Widgets! Widget! Widgets! The Chicago ad:tech panel, Widgets and Applications - The New Media Network, covered what's going on in the world of widgets. Panelists included Omniture Senior Director of Product marketing Chris Duskin, Slide GM Advertising Sonya Chawla, Gigya VP of Sales Ben Pashman, Avenue A Director of Emerging Media and Video Innovation Jeremy Lockhorn and Sprout Co-Founder and CEO Carnet Williams.
Lockhorn described the "old" ad world as Ad 1.0 or a world in which advertising was all about interruption and intrusion. He described the "new" ad world as Ad 2.0, a world in which people are not interrupted and that exists where the people are in an unobtrusive way. This, according to Lockhorn, is the world in which widgets live. So what are widgets?
Gigya's Pashman defined widgets as "a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate html-based web page by the end user." He added widgets should add to the conversation rather then screaming like old media does. Conversely, applications are "built for a specific platform and are not portable." A widget should be simple, shiny and sharable.
Widgets, according to the panelists, should be thought of as elements of social media and not a replacement for advertising banners. They reside on a web page but contain ever-changing content that can, and should, live on indefinitely. They are not to be thought of as campaigns, rather a form of branded content distribution.
Moderator Duskin framed the panel in four parts; distribution, content, measurement and optimization. Pashman pointed ot the biggest decision facing a marketer when considering the use of widgets is whether to build or sponsor already existing widgets. Networks like Pashman's Gigya exist to serve marketers looking for the network approach rather than the build approach. Touting 142 million widget users, Gigya offers marketers an easy way to dive into the widget world.
While everything involving metrics usually boils down to sales or brand awareness, widgets can address many needs such as a movie studio concerned with getting the greatest number of people watching a trailer for an upcoming movie. Rather than force old media metrics on widgets, panelists advocated the creation of widget-specific metrics in advance of launch so as to properly determine success.
In terms of measurement, the notion of a widget as a research device was explored. Since it's not necessarily easy to target a widget to a particular audience because they are distributed by website publishers and users, the way they spread and where they end up can be analyzed to determine which audiences are interested in the content of the widget. It's sort of targeting in reverse. You monitor where the widget travels and then examine the demographics of the websites it ends up on.
The net? Widgets are little branded content packages that can maximize a brand's exposure and create engagement on an ongoing basis. How's that for a summary buzzword phrase.