The internet paradigm seems to be changing again with the online audience moving away form hitherto established browsing patterns to spend more and more tie on social media sites such as Facebook, Orkut, MySpace and the likes. Furthermore, rather than visit numerous individual sites for their many information or entertainment needs, they are using technology to design single point destinations that provides all that they want in a single window. This has meant less browsing around and thereby less exposure to conventional banner ads, forcing online marketers to sit up and look for alternate means to reach out to an online audience that is almost totally desensitised to conventional online ad formats.
Given this scenario, Widgets may well prove to be a godsend. For those of you not familiar with widgets, these are nothing but HTML code GUI applications that delivers tailor made information, graphics, games, video & audio, quizzes, productivity tools and other non-static content to web pages (Orkut, Facebook, MySpace etc), desktops, and even mobile phones. The can be customized and distribute free of cost.
Widgets are a Serious Marketing Opportunity and brands can use them strategically to form direct relationships with customer. Best of all, they are like free advertising as they get your content/message onto peoples webpages and desktops at just the cost of the efforts invested in design and content. Their viral nature also means that a properly executed widget can reach the massive massive number of social networking audience. Simply put, Widgets pull rather than push and that’s sweet music to a marketer’s ear.
Widgets are not for advertising brands alone. Some even argue that they are worth more to websites. For a site owner, it means leveraging the sites existing content to acquire new customers at a minimal cost while also widening the website’s reach to all corners of the web. Reducing the dependence on SEO, every widget served acts as a back link to your site.
Notwithstanding their enormous potential, there remain sceptics who feel the today’s Internet users are just too desensitized to background noise and peripheral distractions on web pages for branded widgets to register. Then there is also the possibility of widgets being used for fraudulent purposes like what happened with the Facebook ‘Secret Crush’ widget which did nothing but install adware.
No matter what, the fact remains that widgets are cheap and easy to design and if executed properly, they can turn into refrigerator magnets, ever present on your target audience’s computer screen.
Some Basic Best Practices
Ensure Utility and Usability – The first and last rule in designing a widget is ensuring that they have utilitarian value. There is no reason anyone would want them if they don’t fulfil a need or serve a purpose. Design and ease of use are equally critical.
Extend Branding, But Subtly – Discretely apply branding to widgets to highlight your brand or message. That said, be very subtle about it as it may turn off potential users.
Promote and Distribute – You must seed your widget to ensure their widest possible adoption. Promotion and distribution are absolutely vital.
Draw Traffic to Your Site – Try and draw users to a site website where in you can increase engagement. For websites owners, this means getting the user to repeatedly visit your site.
Track and Nurture – Use analytics to monitor your widget’s progress. This could also prove insightful.
A Few Examples
Cinecurry Audio Widget – Broadcasts the latest Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada chartbusters
Cinecurry Movie Review Widget – Allows users to listen to audio reviews of the latest Hindi movie releases
The bottom-line: The best widgets contain compelling content, are easy to use, and satisfy a clearly defined and identified consumer need.