How Video Widgets Fit Into Marketing Plans

What would you do for a widget?

As marketers, we should all love to nail the execution of widgets because they are portable advertisements that users can take with them wherever they go. By grabbing a widget, users identify themselves as brand fans, and armed with your content they can share it with their peers. We all want brand ambassadors, and widgets, with their compact and transportable format, have potential to spread across multiple on- and offline formats. The platforms can include — but are definitely not limited to — social networking profiles, blogs, desktops, and Web pages.

Overall, there are two main types of widgets: those that are custom-made and those created by a video site and including a feed to content somewhere else online.

Video widgets are currently being utilized by aggregators like YouTube, media Web sites, television networks, and advertisers to help disseminate video messages to the online masses.

One group making the most of widgets is the news outlets. Reuters, CNN, CNBC, and Forbes all have widgets available for download that showcase video news updates. What makes these forums so effective is that users don’t have to leave their desktops or portals to access news snippets. And if they want more content, they can easily link to the company’s Web page. This can give marketers another outlet to drive traffic with and to create brand interaction outside of a search engine or media placements. In a February “BusinessWeek” article, Peter Yared explains it as “instead of simply trying to build brand awareness, [with widgets] marketers now have the ability to reach out to customers with useful features to enhance their personalized [Web experience].”

EMarketer notes that since Facebook opened up to third-party applications more than 15,000 widgets have been created, and it predicts that marketers will spend $40 million in 2008 on widget production, up from $15 million in 2007. While these statistics are for widgets in general, they serve for a good model of how much potential can still be tapped into for this format. While $40 million only represents 2.5 percent of all online spending, marketers still seem to be hesitant to add this to their advertising arsenal.

Metrics for Success

Measuring a video widget campaign’s effectiveness has proved challenging for the industry. Framing metrics around video widgets could be inconsistent given their transportable nature, but by using unique key performance indicators (KPIs), advertisers can have a pretty good idea of how their widgets are being used. The number of grabs, placements, and widget activity are all logical ways to gauge how well a widget is performing. Craft your metrics so they relate to what you consider a success. If you would consider an increase in out-of-domain referral links a victory, then use that as a benchmark for the campaign.

Marketing Implementations

One option marketers have with widget marketing is to sponsor or partner with an outlet that has video content to distribute. This can be especially effective if used in conjunction with an overlay or in-stream advertisement within the widget. Using this approach, marketers can reduce the broadcaster’s cost burden and provide an additional outlet for their brand. Otherwise, marketers would need to ante up the resources to create a widget themselves. A problem here is developing content worthy of grabbing. As with any viral campaign, it needs to be something interesting enough to warrant being passed on, and there is always a risk of putting resources into a widget and it falling short of expectations.

When using video in a widget, adhere to best practices. Don’t assume that the widget’s flashiness will attract users. Widget developer Clearspring‘s list of widget best practices include:

  • Clearly note that the widget is interactive and includes video.
  • Place the actual widget, not a screenshot, where users can grab it.
  • Publish your widgets on as many forums as possible to encourage downloads.

Also try to make it more of an application and less an advertisement. Of course, have an advertising or branding message present, but provide a benefit to users.

Meet Andreas at ClickZ Specifics: Online Video Advertising on July 22, at Millennium Broadway in New York City.

Related reading