AOL Buys Widget Tech Firm to Boost App Ads and Analytics

AOL acquired widget technology company Goowy Media with plans to deploy widgets that feature programming, content, applications, and ads. Special widget-based ads will permeate AOL’s ad network, and allow users to take the message to other sites.

San Diego, Calif.-based Goowy Media is a widget creation company; its offerings include a tool to track and report where widgets appear, and how Web users interact with these small applications. Metrics such as which widgets get picked up by users from a particular social network, and how long users remain engaged with a particular widget are reported by the tool.

Goowy’s assets also include yourminis, a gallery where visitors can discover and implement widgets. AOL began working with Goowy when developing myAOL last summer. Many of Goowy’s portfolio of widgets were implemented for the portal’s custom start page.

For AOL’s myAOL application, widgets include feeds to top news headlines, calendars, weather forecasts, and videos aggregated from AOL Video.

Plans include Goowy facilitating widget creation, syndication, and reporting. The new addition to AOL’s products division is also charged with creating widgets with a dynamic ad unit with the ability to serve real-time content and rich media-enabled applications.

As part of the products division, Goowy will work closely with Platform A as the widget ad offering becomes available. The group will be responsible for sales of widget ads. “It’ll be another tool that Platform A will be able to use as part of its toolbox or arsenal of ad solutions,” said David Liu, SVP of social media, messaging, and homepages at AOL. “It offers different types of characteristics for ad buyers.” AOL’s Flash chat property Userplane, was also mentioned by Liu as a potential unit for selling ad inventory, and providing working with Goowy.

Widget ads are still in the works, but will provide AOL a way to extend the portal’s reach across social networking sites, third-party Web sites, and blogs. “We can turn widgets into ads themselves, and by distributing those widgets as ads, with the viral nature, those ads can be spread across to many sites and move beyond where the initial ad was placed,” Liu said. “You have more flexibility to do that with a widget than just a regular banner ad.”

The seven-person team at Goowy entertained other offers before accepting AOL’s bid. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. AOL plans to allow Goowy to remain in its San Diego offices for the near term. “We want them to continue to work independently,” Liu said.

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