As a facebook user, I can admit that as I stroll about the network, most advertising doesn’t penetrate anything more than my peripheral. Despite its close proximity to the content on my screen, it still isn’t content. And this quick assessment of what deserves my attention is second nature, much like someone watching television and switching channels the instant a commercial sneaks onscreen. We all know how the story goes: you can lead ‘em to a banner, but you can’t make ‘em click.
Enter Facebook Applications: Little gadgets that allow users to interact in unique, entertaining ways. Advertisers are fighting tooth and nail to develop these gadgets and further involve users in their brand. However, many of these applications are producing overwhelming clutter on the site and require users to solicit these apps to their peers, causing resentment among millions. But at the core of the clutter lies the key to new age brand engagement – Widget marketing.
Widgets can be defined simply as small pieces of desktop or web content that offer functions from simple weather updates to more sophisticated and interactive applications. They have recently become a popular way for marketers to not only reach their audience but also to incorporate their brand into a user’s everyday routine. Apple and Microsoft have desktop tools that feature stock tickers, news feeds and airline schedules. Google’s fastest growing products are ‘gadgets’ for its personalized start pages, or websites that allow users to customize the displayed information.
In today’s marketing world, the widget is proving its place as an effective media strategy. Such tools have been successfully weaved into marketing plans for brands like Adidas, Cingular, Sony Pictures, V05, and AT&T Wireless, along with many others. Many sectors like financial services, automotive, and personal care are testing the widget waters, which makes one wonder just how varied the demographic for this tool is. eMarketer estimates that U.S. companies will spend $40 million this year to create, promote and distribute widgets, up from $15 million in 2007 (which was prematurely dubbed ‘The Year of the Widget’).
Not appearing to be a passing fad, widgets are used by 230 million people a day. But are widgets appropriate for every marketing strategy? Behind every brand, is there a widget waiting to happen?
Look for our next installment of The Weight of the Widget: Volume II: The Secret to a Successful Widget