Widget Marketing

November 27th, 2006 | Categories: marketing, strategy, trends, widgets

The term ’widget’ has historically been used by university business professors to describe Widgetsa generic item or product to be manufactured and/or marketed by a given company. Today, the term has been given a whole new meaning and a life of its own. As defined by Wikipedia, a widget “is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate html-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation. They are akin to plugins or extensions in desktop applications”.

Companies such as YouTube, Slide, and MyBlogLog are several examples of start-ups that have taken advantage of the concept and leveraged the traffic of other sites to drive traffic to their own properties. Many other successful examples exist and continue to appear on a daily basis. I see this as an ongoing trend.

Why is it so effective and widespread within the new web landscape?

  1. This form of viral marketing provides an extremely good ROI based on the resources available. Your ‘embedders’ become your marketing team.
  2. Widgets may take time and manpower to develop, but the deployment and embedding cost nothing.

Essentially, widgets are an extremely effective, low cost way of driving qualified traffic and creating brand exposure.

The value proposition for publishers is clear as well: added functionality for websites with no technical expertise needed.

So what are the downsides of such a tactic?

  1. The cost of bandwidth may be siginificant if the widget provides a multimedia experience, as is the case with YouTube and Slide.
  2. The placement of a widget may not always be favourable or provide the best brand presence (i.e. embedding a widget within a porno site).
  3. The level of conversion from widget-use to website traffic may be low. The same can also be said for brand exposure. In other words, if everyone is simply using your widget and exploiting the embedded experience, then this technique may not be so suitable. Website traffic and brand exposure must constantly be improving.

Nonetheless, if your model leapfrog beyond the downsides (which I consider minimal), then this strategy may very well be your Holy Grail. A fit is absolutely necessary - widgets do not work with every business model. But if this fit can be found, serious upside may be just be embedded around the corner.


  1. Widget Fever Says:

    […] From an alternative point-of-view, the pro’s of a successful widget are immense. Obviously, they are a great way to drive viral adoption among other things. Please read my post entitled Widget Marketing for further in-depth information about the advantages and disadvantages of widgets. In essence though, the widget MUST be useful. It seems rather straightforward, but many are more focused on simply creating a widget rather than making it useful and relevant. […]

  2. Web 2.0 Metaphor: Widgets and Flyers Says:

    […] After taking a look at widget marketing, widget fever, and the monetization of widgets, I have come to one conclusion: widgets are NOT a business model. They are a marketing tool. There needs to be an underlying product or service behind all of this embedding. This made me wonder, “What are widgets comparable to in the offline world? What’s a good metaphor for the world of widgets?” Then it hit me - flyers. […]

  3. Is The Widget Gold Rush Over? Says:

    […] In my mind, widgets were never a business model. They are a marketing tool that provide exposure and funnel traffic back to a parent property. This is where a business model and subsequent monetization emerge. I think companies (and VCs) are starting to realize this, and widget fever is nearing the end. […]

  4. Markintero.com » Blog Archive » Redes sociales en Internet y marketing Says:

    […] sirven de soporte publicitario para la empresa que lo desarrolla y ofrece. Se le comienza a llamar Widget Marketing. El ejemplo de Cities I’ve Visited es uno de los más exitosos. Una pequeña aplicación […]

  5. subish Says:

    you could make things more clear by giving success stories of insti. which has adopted it and have been successful in doing so.

  6. Widget Marketing | Supervivientes del Master SAP-UAB Says:

    […] (2)    http://www.mappingtheweb.com/2006/11/27/widget-marketing/ […]

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