At yesterday’s AOP forum on widgets, plenty of examples were given as to how these applications are used by content providers, but few answers were given on their impact in terms of audience numbers.
Brand controller at ITV consumer, Richard Waterworth, explained the channel’s creation of Facebook applications to promote ITV2 show ‘The Secret Diary of a Call Girl’, but admitted when questioned that quantifying the contribution these kind of widgets make to audience growth is not yet possible.
“It’s absolutely still true that the power of cross-promotion from ITV on air eclipses all this other activity… the way that Facebook works and these widgets work are not comparable in terms of numbers, but what it’s about is building momentum in certain points of a campaign,” he said.
But with metrics for widgets in their infancy it is unclear when or how these applications could become real audience drivers for news websites rather than just flashy marketing toys.
According to Ivan Pope, founder of Snipperoo, sites including news sites looking to widgetise will have to accept that it is a give and take process:
“In order to aggregate you have to disaggregate something… you have to blow up all your content into small fragments and widgetise everything you’ve got and make it available for people to reaggregate into their own view.
“The era of websites which are controlled by a central entity is coming to an end… people want to be in control of where they exist.”
Such widgetisation of content would be a concern for news providers wanting to track where their content ends up and where their audience comes from. This could cause problems for news sites developing widgets for the mobile web, as David Ashbrook, senior research engineer for Vodafone’s devices team, explains in the clip below:[audio:http://www.journalism.co.uk/sounds/davidashcroft.mp3]
To iron out these problems more deals are needed between content providers and with mobile networks – events that could lead to, as Snipperoo’s Pope suggests, the fragmentation of the internet and websites as we know it.