I read a really comprehensive blog about widgets today. I agree that they are massively useful tools for brands to advertise in a cost effective way that is unprecendented in the advertising world.
However I think in order to do this affectively, brands (and agencies creating them) need to fully consider these issues:
1. Scaleability – there are only so many mini-apps, are we really going to want loads of desk top clutter?
2. Durability – is it going to be a one hit wonder (and is that part of it’s USP as a widget?), a form of geniuinely engaging entertainment or my preference for engaging consumers with the brad; a lasting app, which gives a truely useful function e.g. Nike + or the learndirect motivation widget we created at Collective.
3. Usefulness – similarly, there are really entertaining widgets, but I have a slight fear of these. I think they allow for a the creative agency to get a little lost in their ‘creative playtime’. Snicker’s Mr.T widget we did at Collective was massively entertaining and viral (dresses you up as Mr.T) – but it was also unique when it was created. There is going to be only so much space in the market for the same mechanic.
My personal preference is for widgets to to be really lasting mini-applications e.g UPS – parcel tracker. I think in this way the consumer and their needs is put more at the heart of the concept and will ultimately provide more lasting value for the brand. Probably from the use of a digital Planner, who has provided this consumer insight.
Another interesting comment raised is the cost of installing a widget. The put it at $5 per install. This is not what my experience of widgets has been.
The cost of distribution can be high if it is adserved. But in the case of a Clearspring widget we did at Collective for learndirect*, the technology was free and download also free as it was hosted on the learndirect website.
In this instance the widget was less about entertainment and actually provided a functional app for users – motivating learners on their learning journey. Clearspring said they might be changing this model in the future, but for now it has represented a massively cost effective way of communicating with customers and in learndirects case, providing a truly useful widget for motivating learners.