But before that can someone tell me what the heck a widget is?
To find the answer I visited usual wikipedia and this is what they had to say:
“is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate html-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation. They are akin to plug-ins or extensions in desktop applications”.
So in short widget is a code that fetches content from the source on to the page it is embedded. Ever since “Facebook” up to third-party applications in May 2007, nearly 15,000 applications have been developed. Overall, some 100,000 developers are working on widgets and applications worldwide.
Widgets have become popular with users of online communities as a result the business of marketing via widgets is a great way for site owners (including B2B sites) to promote their content and business.
We are in the world of sharing. The users are generating content and consuming it in an infinite cycle. The better is the distribution of content more are the chances of success of any web 2.0 venture or others.
From a site perspective, widgets are all about providing your users with the tools to promote your business. A properly executed widget can spread like wild fire – introducing your site’s content / functionality to new users who may not have known your site existed.
Clever and useful widgets can get very viral as has been the case with MyBlogLog
Widgets are especially interesting for site owners as a means of acquiring new customers at a minimal cost, pushing their site’s reach out to all corners of the Web, leveraging the site’s existing content, reducing site’s dependence on SEO, and providing a nice source of organic, one-way, inbound links.
This form of viral marketing provides an extremely good ROI based on the resources available. Your ‘embedders’ become your marketing team. So Widgets may take time and manpower to develop, but the deployment and embedding cost nothing comparatively.
This all sounds great. What about the monetization?
Now why everything has to boil down to this, I wonder. Now look at it differently, I am saying that Widget is not a Business model, it is a Marketing tool. You deploy it to get the audience share with their audience in turn the content/service you offer, isn’t that great enough.
So as far the business model is concerned then you probably have to be an application developer at best. So you make one and sell it.
The widget world works much in the same way as ‘flyers’. A given widget is fabricated by a company with the intention of widespread distribution on the Internet. This embedded marvel provides value to the destination site, but can easily be removed if the publisher so desires. The widget itself is relatively useless to the company when it comes to revenue generation. Widgets are meant to drive traffic back to the parent property, which can then monetize the user via advertising or a subscription model, perhaps. Finally, widgets also end up creating general brand exposure and awareness.
Widgets enables the general idea to reach out to consumers where they spend their time, rather than force them to come to a destination. We have been talking about syndication and content decentralization for long now.
As per eMarketer report: The US companies will be spending over $40 million in 2008 to create, promote and distribute widgets, up from $15 million in 2007. That’s the growth of over 266%. The figure does not include desktop widgets, which are downloaded and used by a single user.
Is it a fad?
There are many concerns especially the ones with the overall life cycle of the widgets. But for every nay-sayer, widgets also have many proponents.
In a sign of how much widgets have intrigued the marketing community, 58% of attendees at last December’s iMedia Agency Summit said they thought widgets would play a bigger role in their strategy than mobile.
Few Random thoughts:
- Widget is not a Business model, it is a Marketing tool.
- If you are a website owner have one developed and deploy it. Success will depend on how was it useful for your users. If it’s useful they will embed it and bingo!
- Consider enabling a crawlable text link within the widget so search engines can find and crawl the link to the author site. SEO benefit!
- The cost of bandwidth may be significant if the widget provides a multimedia experience, as is the case with YouTube and Slide.
- The placement of a widget may not always be favorable or provide the best brand presence (i.e. embedding a widget within a porno site/blog).
- The level of conversion from widget-use to website traffic may be low.
Nonetheless, if your model leapfrog beyond the downsides (which I consider minimal), then this strategy may very well be your Holy Grail. A fit is absolutely necessary – widgets do not work with every business model. But if this fit can be found, serious upside may be just be embedded around the corner.