Feb
08
Posted on February 8, 2008
Filed Under (Advice, Tools) by jennifer

Nearly everywhere you look online lately there’s a widget. Just go to Facebook or MySpace or any type of social site and you’re bound to come across one. Indeed, according to Internet market researcher comScore, in November 2007 nearly 148 million U.S. Internet users had viewed a widget.

But just because widgets are popular and cool, does that mean you need to jump on the widget bandwagon? And do branded widgets (which often function as ads or are ads) increase traffic and sales for online businesses?

Btw, if you are like me, and not born with a silver microchip in your mouth, you may be wondering what the heck a “widget” is.  (To me the word still conjures up visions of Spacely’s Sprockets or something you would find in a Rube Goldberg Machine.) While there are many definitions, in today’s wired world a widget is more or less defined as a third-party application, often created using Flash or JavaScript (though it can really be pretty much anything), that contains rich media (photographs or audio or video clips) and functions as a (typically) fun add-on to an existing web page.

If all of this still doesn’t quite make sense to you, read my article on widgets, “Wiley Widgets Popular, But What About Profits?” where I provide several examples of widgets in action/how they are being used to generate interest, traffic, and revenue.

For the article, I interviewed Andrew Lipsman, a senior analyst at comScore, which developed a measuring tool called Widget Metrix last year to track widget usage. The main takeaway:

While widgets are typically free for individuals to download, creating one from scratch can cost money, with the amount depending on what exactly you want to create. And having your own widget may not be right or necessary for your brand or your site, cautioned Lipsman. While younger, more Internet-savvy users are more likely to view and download widgets, older or less bell-and-whistle-seeking users could be turned off. Additionally, by monetizing widgets too quickly you could “drive away or limit potential users who see them as too commercial,” he said.

Still, with their growing popularity and ability to deliver rich content and links back to your website, widgets should not be ignored.

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Comments

Marcus Logemann on 1 May, 2010 at 2:52 am #

Hi! Just wanted to chime in. I really enjoyed this article. Keep up the great work.


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