Google CPG blog - News and Notes from Google"s CPG Vertical

Gadgets hit the ground running...and roaring?

Friday, July 06, 2007

We've talked a lot about gadgets (also known as widgets) on this blog -- how easy it is to create them, their diverse appeal and incarnations, and the upside for marketers. As gadgets gain traction online, we're starting to learn more about how they are used and perceived by users. So far, we're hearing great things. Recently, the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) cited a study of 1,200 kids ages 9-17 and 1,000 parents regarding the use of advertising on their social networking pages. Although there was some resistance to social networks putting ads on their personal pages, young people had a different view of ad units with an incentive or fun appeal. Coupons, giveaways, games, and videos were all cited as valuable features of interactive ads, and the study found that 20% of teens added content provided by a marketer to their personalized pages in the last month. When there's something useful or interesting in an ad's content offerings, the ad itself is viewed very differently from a traditional ad, in that it's helpful, fun, and engaging, and so users spend more time with it. Imagine, a user not only viewing your ad, but playing around with it, and possibly downloading it for later. That's a gadget.

Gadgets have an advantage over banners and other rich media offerings in their flexible formats - the sky's the limit, almost, in what you can do; think of it as a mini-website you can push out to the web. As a marketer, you drive awareness, engagement, and site traffic all through a single ad module. With a unique ability to update a gadget frequently (up to several times a day), your content stays fresh and engaging. (Check out our original post for details.)

As comScore is now measuring the reach and impact of widgets online, we can expect to see advertisers do more in this area. A current example the WSJ story cites is a promotion by New Line Cinema for their new film, "The Golden Compass." New Line designed a site where people can create a virtual "daemon," an animal spirit, that can be downloaded and shared to their personal homepages, blogs, social networking sites, and with friends. So far, at least 200,000 people have created daemons and four million people have interacted with them online, according to New Line Cinema. I decided to give it a try - turns out my daemon is Nithreus, the tiger, who is "modest, assertive, outgoing, competitive, and responsible". Sounds about right. By the way, the movie doesn't come out until December.

As was noted in the newspaper report, engagement does not necessarily mean conversion. The product itself has to be good. But at a time when it's increasingly difficult to get in front of the consumer, let alone engage with him or her, the numbers are promising for marketers using Gadgets/widgets to communicate their campaign message or offering. If you've got a great site, chances are, you can design a great gadget - and why not? There's more about Google Gadgets here - or if you're itching to create them, start here.