May 14, 2008

Widgets; ads or properties?

I was talking with someone today about B2C marketing and was quoting three great rules: 1 - Ethically drive as much traffic as possible to your property 2 - With great product and experience, make your property as sticky as possible 3 - Monetize in a palatable manner You can have the best idea in the world, but it is all about your "Zero to a sticky Million" speed... We were talking about using widgets as attractants to bring traffic to their site. The question I've been wrestling with after talking with folks and helping a few startups use this strategy is: Are widgets little versions of your main property that pull traffic or are they separate properties that you have to apply the three rules to? There are companies that exist to create widgets. The widgets are the property(ies) that the rules apply to. As a startup with limited resources and time, you know where to focus your energy. If you only have a web site, you have a similar focus. If you have a web site and widgets, do you lose focus? Widgets require much energy, and not only from the development team. They also require significant UI work. Do they try and mirror the UI of their host environment (e.g. Facebook), or do they mimic your site? What is the boiled down essence of the widget that makes it sticky? If it is too sticky, does traffic flow from the widget to your main property? While widgets can hugely extend your initial reach, do they drive sustained traffic to your property? There seems to be a difficult balance in putting enough energy into widget(s) to let them drive traffic to your main property, but not so much energy that they in essence become a compressed version of your property that can't deliver the value proposition you had hoped to deliver by moving the user to your main site. What do you think? Are widgets in essence interactive ads for your site, windows into your main property placed at high traffic intersections on the net, or unique properties that offer new and novel experiences associated with your value proposition placed at those high traffic intersections?
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