Bob Garfield Gives Widgets A Thorough Exam


"Branded widgets are the refrigerator magnets of the Brave New World," says Bob Garfield in a lengthy Advertising Age article in which he examines widgets, compares them to specialty advertising and dubs them "the magical connection between marketers and consumers."

Garfield notes the widget space will "amount to something like $100 million." Though not a small sum, he also adds, "it's a sum even an endangered species such as NBC Universal can shake out of the sofa cushions."

He spoke with Jackson Fish Market Founder Hillel Cooperman who laments marketer's malaise and his frustration with their lack of interest in widgets. While marketers seem to clearly understand the day's of the :30 spot are numbered, confoundedly, they act like a deer in headlights when it comes to moving ahead with alternative methods of marketing.

Of the frustration, Cooperman told Garfield, "All the stars are aligning. Everybody around me says, 'You're in the right place at the right time.' Yet it's still like pulling teeth."

And indeed that's the case but it's understandable. Change takes time. Most people don't want to fix what's not completely broken. And, contrary to naysayers including myself, traditional advertising is not entirely dead. Because of laziness, malaise or lack of skills, there simply won't be a major shift (paradigm shift?) to new forms of advertising until the old forms are completely gone. It's just too easy to keep doing the same old thing. Oh, it's not smart but that's the way the machine works.

While widgets may seem a no brainer, Garfield points out several limiting factors to their success. From scale to open ended cost to lack of standards, creating a "widget media plan" is not as easy as it might sound.

Relating widgets to standard online advertising, Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow said, "If you're going to do a 728-by-90 banner ad, you might as well do an app. Because it's going to take the same amount of time and cost. Instead of reaching 80 million people, let's reach a million in your target and spend 10 minutes with them."

And commenting on the success of a widget Buddy Media created for InStyle which garnered 300,000 installs and seven minutes time spent, Lazerow said, "They [widgets] basically cost less than traditional banners, and you get 75 times greater time spent than with regular banners and five times more time spent than with TV ads."

While the world of widgets certainly seems rosy, Garfield's article does not read like many others on the same subject which, sadly, only manage to point out benefits like...oh...a glossy ad campaign hyping a less than stellar product. Garfield covers all angles, good and bad.

by Steve Hall    Dec- 1-08   Click to Comment   

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Holy shit, Steve, did you just post a complimentary review of a Garfield column? Somebody create a widget to commemorate the event and track all future Garfield gushings.

Posted by: HighJive on December 1, 2008 10:06 PM

Yea. Can you believe it? I surprised even myself with this one!

Posted by: Steve Hall on December 2, 2008 12:47 AM

Nice wrap-up here, Steve.

A quick correction: the InStyle installs number was "300,000" in Garfield's article and in this post you have "300, installs." Just want to give widgets/apps their due.

And as I commented on his article, I'll also post here that there's no reason for costs to be open-ended...from widget creative to our multi-network seeding and distribution plans and beyond, our clients know exactly what their costs are at every step of a campaign. Just doing my part to dispel that "limiting factor." :)

Posted by: Todd Havens on December 2, 2008 4:08 PM