Widgets Trend Marker


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TrendMarker: a brief for executives that highlights, explains, and discusses an idea, media innovation, market trend or invention that offers marketing and communications opportunities. A paper from Universal McCann. (February 2008)

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Widgets Trend Marker

  1. 1. TrendMarker A brief for executives that highlights, explains, and discusses an idea, media innovation, market trend or invention that offers marketing and communications opportunities. February 2008
  2. 2. 1 TrendMarker Widgets So what’s this widget thing all about…? Confused or bemused – never heard of one? You’re not alone. So let’s start with a definition. A widget is a piece to one where content is dispersed in useful chunks of code that users can add to their webpage, across a variety of platforms. personalised homepage, web browser, desktop, blog A secondary trend is the increasing or social network. Typically it takes on a graphical form commercialisation of widgets. Broadcasters are and will work like a mini application or program. Some packaging up content to allow users to put videos display content while others provide services or share on their pages, sports teams are producing branded data from another website. widgets with team news, websites are using it as They are usually added from a directory through a method of content distribution and advertising a simple click and add option but can also come networks are emerging that allow the creation of as pure code to be cut and pasted into the HTML widget ad formats. template of a blog, website or social network page. The most familiar types of widget are Facebook Increasingly widgets can be shared virally amongst Applications, Windows Vista Gadgets and Google friends and are also called applications, plug-ins, Gadgets. Essentially they all serve the same purpose; gadgets or embeds. allowing the distribution of content into external web Although widgets are now getting their turn in connected environments. the spotlight, the idea has been around since the Widget marketing is all about using these avenues beginning of the worldwide web. However recent of content distribution as part of your marketing mix moves to make them simpler to use, access and install to deliver against marketing and communication have started to drive mass usage. objectives. There recent prominence is indicative of an important change in the direction of the internet as it moves from being a collection of separate websites Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  3. 3. TrendMarker 2 Types of Widgets The widget is rapidly emerging as an all-encompassing term. However, there are a huge variety of types and they are available on a variety of platforms. Here is a semi-comprehensive list of the most common widgets and platforms. Desktop The latest generation of computer operating systems are web-enabled and incorporate gadgets as standard, opening up the world of widgets to hundreds of millions of computer users. Importantly they also allow users restricted by workplace admin rights to install software. • Windows Gadgets: Visual applications that can be loaded from a directory into the Windows Vista sidebar (on the desktop) and Live.com personalised homepage. • Apple Dashboard Widgets: Apple’s rival to Vista Gadgets • Yahoo Widgets: offers a directory of widgets for Windows and Apple desktops installed via a piece of Yahoo software • Google Desktop: Downloadable software that indexes your home PC for search and offers a directory of gadgets for desktop Web Browsers Increasingly web browsers also allow the incorporation of third-party programs. • Internet Explorer 7: Called add-ons, they allow widgets to be installed into the web browser • Firefox Plug-ins: Also called add-ons • Opera: supports universal widgets Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  4. 4. 3 TrendMarker Personalised Homepages/Webtops These attempt to organise a user’s web experience by placing all the content they will ever need on one page. Widgets are available from directories. • Windows Live: Microsoft’s personalised homepage with a directory of gadgets • Google Homepage: iGoogle personalised homepage with a directory of gadgets • Netvibes: A personalised homepage that also has a large widget directory. They also developed universal programming rules that allow widgets to be distributed across Windows, iGoogle, Yahoo widgets and Apple platforms. Social Networks Social networks are rapidly opening up their platforms for external developers to create applications for users to place on their profiles. • Facebook Applications: This was the first social network to open up and allow external developers to develop applications for users’ pages. It brought widgets to the masses. It has now opened up its programming standards for other sites to adopt, which would reduce the cost and broaden the reach of branded applications. • Google Open Social: An attempt by Google to standardise the world of widgets by created a common set of programming rules that social media sites can sign up to. It has attracted a huge amount of press and so far Bebo, • MySpace: An developer platform has just been Friendster, hi5, Hyves, imeem, LinkedIn, MySpace, rolled out as well as being signed up to Open Ning, orkut, Plaxo, Tianji, and XING have Social. MySpace users can also easily add web committed to sign up. It could be a positive widgets as HTML to personal profiles. move for advertisers wishing to share widgets • Friendster: Launched an application platform across many platforms but is still not up and following Facebook’s success. running at time of going to press. • Bebo: The open applications platform launched by Bebo virtually mirrors Facebook’s so applications can be cloned across the two sites. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  5. 5. TrendMarker 4 Blogging Platforms Directories of widgets allow bloggers to easily add external content to their blog. • Blogger: Google gadgets can be added to page • Typepad: Widgets can added from a directory Embeddable Web Widgets Websites are increasingly offering their content to external sites, blogs and social network pages via embeddable code that can be placed anywhere online. This has led to a proliferation of multi-media content across the internet. This code is cut and pasted into the HTML template. Some of the best examples • YouTube: Videos can be embedded into a web page with a simple piece of code that is available for every video on YouTube. Videos on external sites are responsible for a huge proportion of YouTube views and is the main reason that the internet is now flooded with video clips. • Flickr.com / Photobucket.com / Fotolog.com: All the major photo sites offer widgets that allow you to share your creations. • LastFM, Finetune and iLike.com all have widgets for sharing music. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  6. 6. 5 TrendMarker Mobile Widgets This is a massive growth area for widgets and clearly as the Internet becomes more central to the mobile experience, so will the widget. Widget applications can be downloaded, or widget platforms can be installed that allow you select a series of mini applications to have on your phone. • Widsets: Nokia backed widget platform that once installed allows you to pick from 1600 applications. Over a million downloads shows the potential. • iPhone: Whatever you think it, its done much to improve the mobile internet experience. Add its early adopter user profile and you have the perfect ingredients for mobile widgets to become hugely popular. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  7. 7. TrendMarker 6 Why widgets are so important Five key trends explain why widgets and widget marketing are going to be increasingly important in online communications. Platformisation: Social networks, personalised homepages and search engines are becoming platforms for external content. Essentially they are becoming the way that consumers organise their internet experience, which means incorporating communication, search, external content and even retail into a single page. This means that web usage will be increasing concentrated into fewer platforms and campaign microsites and branded websites will find it harder to drive significant traffic. The need to exist inside these platforms will become paramount. In-connected: Gone are the days of siloed websites. Thanks to web 2.0 and social media, everything is connected. All sites are making their content available for publishing elsewhere, whether via RSS feeds, email updates or widgets. Widgets are a great way to package and keep control of the content published elsewhere. Open Protocol: Web platforms are increasingly opening up their application programme protocols (APIs), providing external developers with the means to create standardised applications and there is a move towards unified single standards for widget applications. Recent examples include Google Open Social, a set of common programming rules that sites can opt into, Facebook’s and Bebo’s open platform initiatives to allow application developed on their sites to be used elsewhere and Netvibes Universal Widget API, which creates standard set of programming rules for sharing applications across Windows, Apple Macs, Yahoo widgets and iGoogle. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  8. 8. 7 TrendMarker Internet Everywhere: The internet is seeping into all areas of our computing experience. This means that widgets will become available everywhere including via operating systems and in software packages such as Excel and PowerPoint. Windows Vista has many features that rely on information and data from the internet, for example, while widgets are central to customising your desktop. At the same time, web-based applications are increasingly taking on desktop rivals. For example Google Apps offers spreadsheets, word processor and presentation applications inside the web browser. In the future software will be web-based and accessible anywhere. The line between webtop and desktop will disappear. Everybody is a content generator: Whether they realise it or not, everybody is now a content producer. Consumers expect brands to do the same and are receptive to branded content and services as long as they provide them something of genuine value. This creates a climate where branded content is more acceptable than it has ever been, particularly if it keeps access free. These five trends will make widgets a key channel for advertisers and brands to distribute their message and content. Getting consumers to integrate your branded widget into their desktop, social network, blog or personal home page is a way of driving engagement and building a relationship. As a bonus widgets are cheap to produce, can be distributed at low cost and they put you in the most relevant environment to your target audience. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  9. 9. TrendMarker 8 The keys to producing a successful widget: It’s about reputation not driving direct sales Good widgets drive engagement and create positive brand associations by sitting in consumers’ personal online space and delivering a benefit. They will not replace advertising that drives high reach and sales. Avoid the gimmicks Many gadgets, particularly on social networks, can be gimmicky. Think vampire, pirate and my snowman applications on Facebook. This kind of gimmickry isn’t doing anyone any favours. Shallow content Less is more in widgets. There is only so much space to fill with content. Subtle branding Widgets are opt in and exist in consumers’ personal space – subtlety is the key to consumer acceptance. Remember distribution Work with widget specialists to distribute via their directories, add to your site, talk about it in advertisements and work with the platforms to gain prominent positions. Incorporate with other communications Widgets work best in association with other marketing communications, either to activate your communications idea or can be used as “news” to talk about in advertising. UPS adopted this strategy to launch its parcel tracking widget (see case study below). It’s about doing not showing The future of marketing communications is about acting the behaviour you want your brand to be associated with not just talking about it. Widgets allow you to project your image not just talk about it. The possibilities The only limit is your imagination. Essentially if you can do it on a webpage you can turn it into a widget. A quick browse of any of the major widget directories will give you a quick idea of what exists and all directories allow you to sort by popularity to see what works. As with other social media developments it is massively competitive. There are widgets from amateurs, micropublishers, existing big media companies and brands – everybody is producing content and it’s very competitive. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  10. 10. 9 TrendMarker Here are some examples we like: Gap Model Maker Application Gap created an application on Bebo, supported by a personal page that allows you add your picture and create a virtual model and try out its latest range. Red Bull Roshambull Red Bull’s Facebook version of scissor paper stone. Simple, fairly pointless but it also has more than 200,000 users Daft Punk Promo Widget The widget is effectively a mini-website covering all things Daft Punk to promote their new album Alive. It lets you listen and buy. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  11. 11. TrendMarker 10 NBC Universal The US broadcasting giant has gone widget crazy. There are more than 60 available on Netvibes alone, covering everything from ‘Saturday Night Live’ videos to Horoscopes widgets. Purina Pet Weather Widget Widgets can work in any category – this one proves it. It’s simple, doesn’t do too much and is genuinely useful it its small way. Sara Lee Happy News Tracker Sara Lee reinforced its Joy of Eating campaign by sponsoring Happynews.com’s desktop news tracker. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  12. 12. 11 TrendMarker Honda Acura RDX Traffic Widget It sits on your desktop and keeps you updated about potential hold-ups on the journey home. Useful and highly relevant for an automotive brand. The Nike Challenge widget Nike launched Nike + with Apple to track your running performance by linking your iPod and trainers. It lets you rank your performance against friends with the widget providing an ongoing update. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  13. 13. TrendMarker 12 CASE STUDY IN DEPTH: UPS Widget Personal assistants and dispatch managers are intrigue personal assistants and dispatch managers, facing their computer screens throughout most inform them about UPS worldwide express services of their working days. This is a largely unclaimed and ultimately drive them to a microsite where they territory by advertisers providing UPS with an could download the widget. exclusive platform to develop a relationship with their audience. A desktop widget was a unique The campaign carved out a unique niche for opportunity to answer tangible needs as well as UPS in the industry creating a significant amount ensuring UPS can stay top of mind on a daily of buzz in consumer and professional media. basis. The widget was brought to life via an The microsite attracted more than 500,000 out of home, print and online campaign visits, 14,000 widgets were downloaded directing consumers to a microsite and the traffic of UPS.com increased by explaining UPS’ services where the more than 50% during the campaign widget could be downloaded. period. Most importantly the widget helped create an emotional bond The campaign positioned the in a category where suppliers are widget as the hero. It helped break traditional chosen on rational criteria inertia in our audience’s shipping habits such as cost, coverage and reliability. by making their job easier and more fun. The widget positioned UPS as a partner The role of the various executions were to rather than a supplier. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  14. 14. 13 TrendMarker CASE STUDY IN DEPTH: Windows Mobile Travellers Toolkit We developed a gadget for Windows Mobile, exclusive to Vista Sidebar and Live.com gadget platforms. The aim was to communicate the benefits of being able to customise your media experience. This in turn would promote the Windows Mobile platform. The gadget was designed to be a helpful tool for business travellers, a key audience for Windows Mobile. It worked by pulling valuable city specific information into one place, including weather forecasts, local news, a local city guide, local search and a Wi-Fi hotspot locator. The gadget was promoted to the target audience online, via Live search keywords, the gadget directory and articles on technology, widget and gadget websites. The gadget proved extremely successful with over 40,000 downloads in the first two months of launch and it continues to be downloaded. We tracked it closely to compare it to buying a traditional banner campaign and proved that it can work extremely well both in terms of cost efficiency and driving engagement. The cost of getting someone to install the gadget worked out the same as getting someone to click through to the product home page via a banner. However users spent 4 times more time with the gadget than they did on the product homepage, so it performed very well in driving engagement. It also had positive feedback from users, with research indicating that consumers enjoyed the experience and welcomed it as a new style of marketing. Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  15. 15. TrendMarker 14 The Future What we see today is just the tip of the iceberg. In the short term, the internet is becoming a collection of platforms that are undermining the role of the traditional website. This is important because it impacts the way content and commercial messaging can be distributed. Content will exist in bite-sized chunks that can be found everywhere and distributed anywhere, by consumers and professionals. This is why the widget is so important; they work across platforms but allow you to maintain control over how that content or service is viewed. It will be a major channel for distributing messages and content both commercial and non commercial. Looking further forward it won’t be long before everything will be internet connected. Web-enabled fridges, television sets, cars and, of course, mobile phones will all be commonplace. The potential for widget distribution is only just opening up. Imagine a branded mapping application in the car or a cooking widget on the household fridge. As the web creeps into all aspects of our lives, widgets will become more mainstream and mass market in usage. The widget will become an essential part of any communications mix. Essential Links • Google Open Social: - learn more about Googles attempt to standardise the widget market • Netvibes: – Massive widget platform • Wikipedia: - good definition • Widgetbox: - Massive widget directory • Widsets: – Mobile widget platform • Windows Vista Sidebar: – personalise your desktop Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann
  16. 16. TrendMarker Copyright ® 2008 Universal McCann