Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Adding Widgets to the Advertising Mix

In your list of the tools that make marketing diy these days a useful entry is the widget. You see them all the time; the “Subscribe by email” box beside this post is a widget supplied by services firm FeedBurner.

There are two types of widgets. There are widgets like “Subscribe” that can be embedded in any web page, including this blog. There are desktop widgets. You might have downloaded the weather widget from It also gives you traffic reports, and while you’re there you can also download a widget linking you to your favorite major league baseball team. What a deal! Bringing all these visitors to does great things for their advertising rate card. Having their downloadable widget works for because it has a high awareness level, and everyone needs a weather service on their desktop, don’t they? They also need affordable air fares. Southwest Airlines booked over $100 million in fares in the first year of its Ding widget, which is customizable for the cities you favor.

Most marketers are especially interested in widgets that can be embedded in other sites and drive traffic back to the sponsoring site. These widgets can build awareness for newer businesses and generate sales, especially for well-known trusted sites.

Staying with weather for a minute a company called Nimbus has a cute weather cloud that publishers can embed on their site as a small bar, shown below expanded. It provides a lot of location-specific weather information and a link back to Nimbus to find out more. The publisher can also sell advertising on the weather widget. Enough to pay for this commercial widget, I wonder?

Sites like eBay can offer a toolbar made up of widgets. eBay also offers tools to help programmers write widgets that link to eBay. There are a number of sites that offer diy tools for widget development. One of those is MuseStorm. Personally, I’m a bit skeptical of their claim that it’s as easy as creating a PowerPoint presentation, but the tools do look easy to use.

I created one in Google Gadgets for another blog, and it was as easy as Google said it would be. It turns out, though, that you can only put Google Gadgets on Google pages, and I wanted it for a blog with another provider, so that effort didn’t work. But creating the widget was easy, and in the right situation I wouldn’t hesitate to try it again.

I added one to this blog yesterday; see Sphere below. It turned out as a link, not an icon, because I can’t figure out how to include their sphere symbol. But it works. I got the idea from the Wall Street Journal Online. Look at the bottom of their articles, for “Related Articles and Blogs.” They have a staff of expensive IT people to customize the look; I have only me—not very skilled and free. And I have the same functionality as the WSJ on my blog. Think about that!

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