Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Widgets Go Mainstream

Widgets are all over our desktops and the websites we visit. You may have downloaded a local weather service for your home page, an icon that offers news about your favorite sports team, or you may have reached this blog by an RSS feed. These are all icons of one sort or another that provide access to content or other Internet functionality with a single click.

A well-known one is the Southwest Airlines Ding widget that provides reduced-fare alerts. It is credited with over $150 million in ticket revenue in about 2 years of operation. Their widget program is ongoing. If you look at Southwest’s Travel Tools, they have a new Wireless Alert for your mobile phone using the standard RSS icon.
With all this going on it’s no surprise that Widget platform Clearspring has just announced an advertising network for widgets. Here’s some background on the subject:
•In June comScore announced a metrics service for widgets. In April 2007 they said that widgets reached almost 178 million people worldwide.
•For a good, quick video explaining how ad networks work, see “The Evolution of Ad Networks.”
•Clearspring helps users develop widgets. Widgetbox is one of the many free platforms for DIY widgets. All the large portals have them also. I pointed out earlier that even I could develop one using Google’s freestyle widget template.

Widgets offer exciting possibilities but before you dash off in all directions, this is a good time to study Google’s Open Social platform. It’s stated purpose is to make it easier to share what they call “social gadgets” between social applications. Some of the larger ones like MySpace and LinkedIn are already part of the network.

Do you need to deploy anything from content to marketing offers to people who are willing to hear from you? Think widgets!
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