The overriding theme at yesterday’s Widgety Goodness conference was: if you produce enough, some are bound to stick.
Widgets were described both as ‘chaff’ by speaker Steve Bowbrick and as existing in an ‘innovate and dump’ industry by Nooked CEO Fergus Burns.
This idea was echoed by speaker Matt Trewhella, an engineer with Google, who said that of 20,000 widgets produced under Google Gadgets, half the total traffic for these is produced by only 150 applications.
Success stories of individual widgets used to promote specific events or products dominated rather than evidence of long-term benefits to site traffic.
“There’s tremendous reach, but unlike Google, high investment can’t guarantee that reach. Success is highly elusive,” the situation was explained by Chris Cunningham, vice president of ad sales at website designers Freewebs.
While compared to a marketing campaign, widgets are relatively inexpensive to produce, yesterday’s speeches suggested that online publishers should be wary about jumping on the widget bandwagon until more is known about the long-term advantages.
Predictions for widgets in 2008:
– widgets will be aware of other widgets you’re using and be able to interact with each other;
– more personalised widgets – though some warnings about how this made lead to overfamiliar advertising were also issued;
– developments in widgets for mobile – though the speakers were still scratching their heads over who would lead the way in this market.
For more thoughts on the event Steve Bowbrick has re-produced his speech, there’s a useful round-up by Roger Warner on the marketing side of the conference.