Liz Maritz

World Wide Widgets

Internet trends are constantly changing, from chat rooms to podcasts to social networking websites. Still, most internet trends seem to fizzle out as quickly as they arrive. One of the biggest trends today is the widget, and based on its recent growth, it looks like it is here to stay. The widget, or gadget as it is often referred, is a small application that provides information from websites for internet users. Popular widgets include weather, Google maps and specialized RSS feeds.  

Widgets allow internet users to find information quicker, but they are also valuable tools for internet marketing. Almost every widget comes from a website and has internet advertising value for that website. When users put a website’s widget on their website, facebook, or MySpace profile, they are providing free advertising for the creator of the widget. In order to be truly valuable as an internet marketing tool, it is important that the widget is valuable for the user. After all, why would a user add a widget to their website if it is not valuable? Of course, the problem then becomes developing a widget that is both useful for users and effective for internet marketing purposes. 


1. Fun 

Widgets can be used for many different purposes, and one of them is recreation. There are plenty of widgets that provide fun little games, interactive entertainment information and countdowns. While smaller websites are far more likely to add these widgets than larger websites, a widget on several small websites can go a long way for your internet marketing campaign. 

2. Target the Little People 

Just as valuable as other websites adding your widget is users adding widgets to social networking websites. Think about it – one person on facebook or MySpace with 100 friends has the potential to spread your widget, and as a result your marketing message, to all of those “friends”. Even if only one percent of those friends add the widget, the spread of the widget is still rapid considering how many friends most truly active users have on these social networking websites. While getting one person with only 100 contacts may not seem like a big deal, it has the potential to create a huge stir if your widget is useful. 

3. Monetary Value  E-commerce websites often use widgets to spread the word on their current deals and also provide coupons for their products. If users have incentive to use the widget (such as coupons and exclusive offers only available on the widget), there is a much better chance that they will use the widget. As a result, this creates greater opportunity for you to spread the word via internet marketing.

4. Provide Content 

When running an informational website, it is often difficult to generate enough content. Widgets provide the opportunity to add content without doing anything. Different widgets allow you to go well beyond RSS feeds, with more aesthetically pleasing and well-formatted content than RSS feeds are capable of providing. 

Yahoo! has a widget directory as well as a program that helps you create widgets. As long as you are able to create a useful widget with a prominent internet marketing aspect built in, you have nothing to lose by trying it out.

Seth Trachtman is a Web Marketing Account Manager for The Net Impact Web Design St. Louis

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