Tuesday, January 29, 2008 

The Perfect Sponsored Widget

By Joe Marchese

 

A widget got passed around the office the other day, and productivity came to screeching halt. I will apologize in advance for linking to it here. I hope you didn’t have too busy a day planned. The widget is an interactive geography quiz built by Travel Pod. But I will let you take a look for yourself: The Traveler IQ Challenge

 

I got hooked on this travel widget for probably upwards of 20 minutes over the course of the day yesterday. Some people in the office were even able to make to the last level (they obviously paid more attention in history and geography). This is a perfect example of creating compelling content that people will choose to interact with and share, which is in line with your brand. An application dedicated to identifying places you would love to see in your lifetime, and a travel blog Web site. 

 

But here’s where everything isn’t all good for the travel blog. After 20 minutes of my complete and undivided attention being delivered to their app, I had no idea who had sponsored the widget. I had to go back and look for the purposes of this spin. Of the 15 employees in my office who got hooked on the widget, only a couple noticed that it was a Travel Pod sponsored application and I don’t believe (at least not on company time 😉 any went on to explore TravelPod itself. TravelPod’s application achieved the objective that is hardest to predict: it captured massive amounts of dedicated attention. However, it did not convert that attention into a meaningful branding or performance marketing opportunity.

 

In order to bridge from a great widget with which people will engage, to achieving marketing objectives, there are a couple of keys. First, make sure the application has every opportunity to provide social interaction. Just allowing me to get the widget is a great start; however, being able to share scores and compare with your friends, creating a custom quiz for a group of friends, is even better. (A larger map option for this widget would be great as well, but that’s not really a best practice, so we’ll move on). 

 

Second, and most importantly, make sure the widget does more than provides a great experience; it should make a clear connection between that experience and your brand value. For example, this widget could have suggested travel blogs for me to read based on the locations that I missed by more than half the globe. Obviously I know nothing about these places (Africa and South America in particular, according to my attempts) and have just been somewhat humbled by how far off I was. This is a great opportunity to introduce me to the content value of TravelPod. Assuming someone has written a blog about traveling to any of these places, a listing of those blogs next to the famous place or city I missed by thousands of kilometers would very likely have gotten me to at least explore the real purpose of TravelPod.

 

Overall, the Travel Pod widget achieves the first major goal of advertising in social media, creating compelling content that people will engage with and share. It also achieves the next level of fit by having the content aligned with the value of the brand/property. What’s your favorite example of a brand widget that achieves all of the goals? What else should be included?

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