Many companies, especially those in the consumer brand and Internet space, use widgets as part of their online marketing efforts. After all, those tiny, standalone apps that can be installed on any web page are inherently viral, aimed at spreading quickly across blogs, social networks and other places. A successful widget campaign can not only help get in touch with end consumers, but also saves a lot of advertising dollars and strengthens brand recognition sustainably. Even the FBI has started offering widgets to hunt down criminals.
But widgets also have one major flaw: They tend to get old fast and eventually fall off people’s pages (who, for example, wants to see dancing Christmas elves in April?). Here is where a new “content-managed widget system”, dubbed Goldenrod, comes in. Developed by Centric, an LA-based interactive agency, Goldenrod is looking to make widget marketing long-term and strategic – by giving brands dynamic control over their widgets (and apps).
The key idea is to overcome the need to redesign, re-seed and re-propagate a widget or app every time a company decides to use social media for a marketing initiative. Goldenrod users can access an online control panel to alter the look and content of their widgets or apps that are already out there. Jason Stoddard, Managing Partner at Centric, says companies can change anything from text, video, photos and audio to skins – without having to program anything.
So once the widgets are distributed on starting pages and social networks, Goldenrod can help extend their life cycles significantly, provided companies are able to come up with a good online marketing strategy for their products. Think of a chocolate maker that can run different widget campaigns during Easter and Valentine’s Day, but on the same installed base. Or a movie studio that can change already distributed apps every time a new film comes out without having end users do anything. That way, widgets can become a lot sexier (if done right) for users. And for companies, changing them comes pretty close to changing conventional websites.
Goldenrod is already available and integrates with branded widget distribution service Clearspring. The first company to use the new system is Cotton, Inc. (their “Fab Finds” widget, used to promote fashion items made of cotton, is already live at MySpace). This widget makes use of Goldenrod’s integrated contesting function, which lets people get entries for sharing the widget, and automatically chooses a random winner (the giveaway deployed in this case is a so-called “Fab Find”).