Google’s new widget advertising is just like a, just like a, just like a mini-mall

The New York Times calls it advertising in mini-sites. However, instead of “mini-site,” “widget” is our buzzword of choice — not to be confused with (or, rather, to be confused with) badges, flare or any of another dozen words related to content chunklets you can run on an Ajaxy home page or display on your website, blog or personal-identity social-networky place. (See more in the “sidenote” below.)


“Widgets are a dream for marketers,” Mr. Ioffe said. “They allow them to extend their brand off of their individual sites and allow their brands to live as long as consumers want them to live.”

At last weeks “Conversational Marketing Summit,” someone from a large media planning service described a program in which her client (an athletic shoe company) offered “free” animated items like “spinning shoes” for people to add to their Facebook and MySpace pages. She described the 20-million + views these logo’d items had generated as “free” impressions, as in, the marketer did not pay for any of the page-views these items generated after the “consumer” copied the code and pasted it on their own site.

What you have with today’s announcement from Google is the first step in giving Google (and others) the ability to “monetize” the flare as it flows along the “conversation.”

Obviously, a “dream for marketers.” And, from a few savvy marketers who understand how to create widgets that do something more that “advertise,” it may even work for users, as well.

Sidenote: For clarification purposes, here’s how I use the different buzzwords: “Widgets” go on personal pages (like iGoogle) and Konfabulator and the Apple Dashboard. “Flare” and “Badges” are similar but appear along the side (or in the middle) of people’s websites (see Fred Wilson — who loves flare). For the record, everyday, I hear and see people referring to all of those terms interchangeably. I like such embedded content — several of them power the right-hand column of my blog — and, more importantly, different sections of websites my company has developed or manage. However, I usually try to strip out as much of the graphics as possible so the content blends into this site. I think when you start adding too much “flare,” your site starts looking just like a mini-mall.