As opt-in distribution networks popular among young consumers, widgets are on the rise, according to the analysts and agency types who gathered Wednesday in New York for the first WidgetCon. “This space is just showing some incredible month-over-month growth,” said Linda Boland Abraham, executive vice president, comScore. “If I were a widget maker, I’d be touting the young demographic that widgets are reaching.” In North America, more than 81 million consumers–or a full 40.3% of all online consumers–were exposed to Web widgets in April, according to a widget tracking service recently launched by comScore. For now, its Widget Metrix service only tracks widgets–mainly photo and video-streaming players–that can be embedded on Web pages like blogs and social networking pages, rather than desktop widgets. (Notably, it is not tracking YouTube’s video players.)
Joanna Pena-Bickley adds: “The widget is facilitating the evolution through giving us a mechanism for portable content, commerce, community and transactions in consumers lives.”
Daniela Capistrano says: “I do not believe that widgets will completely replace websites as some might believe, but I do believe they will change the way that all content is published, promoted, and shared.”
Jeremy Pepper thought that “NYC is about monetization. San Francisco is about community. Or, NY is about style and SF is about substance – either would work. And, at this conference, no one seems to care about the community. I came to this on my vacation, so just stayed for the two key panels – and walked away with the realization that while advertising and marketing (the majority of the people at the conference) are in deep in widgets, they are the last people that should be touching this space. Why? They don’t communicate – they push content, and don’t seem to care about community. ”
What it means: Widget(s) have enormous potential as a content/brand/business model distribution vehicle. When working on their design, make sure you think about the user value you’re offering. Think feature, not advertising, and let it go. If you build a large network of widget users but you’re not monetizing in the short term, don’t worry about it. It’s a great problem to have!