Widget network Clearspring has launched a new service allowing marketers to learn more about social networking activity around branded applications via public interactions such as comments, news feeds, sharing and notifications.
Previously, Clearspring widgets tracked only direct usage metrics such as installs, click-throughs, time spent and the number of visitors. The new ConnectedAds program -- initially focused on MySpace and Facebook -- tracks a wider range of social activity tied to widgets to help marketers better gauge the effectiveness of social media campaigns.
Using ConnectedAds, for example, a movie studio promoting a new release can now measure whether a movie trailer widget that someone installed on their Facebook page appeared in other users' news feeds and how many friend comments it generated.
Furthermore, ConnectedAds tracks user interactions not just within MySpace and Facebook, but between those sites and the 80 other social networks across which Clearspring distributes widgets. A movie studio would thus also be able to see whether it was shared with followers on Twitter or added to a user's Delicious bookmarks.
"This will let advertisers know what the conversation with, and around, this advertising-based content is,'" said Clearspring CEO Hooman Radfar. "We're really trying to go toward automating word-of-mouth advertising across the emerging social landscape."
He noted that the Facebook redesign in particular -- placing greater emphasis on sharing content, increasing the frequency of status updates, and opening up the news feed to brands -- calls for upgraded analytics around apps. "It's really about getting into that feed and tracking metrics properly so advertisers have some assurance their efforts are working," he said.
Radfar said the ConnectedAds program would carry an additional charge beyond its standard widget development, distribution and tracking services, but declined to provide details.
McLean, Va.-based Clearspring says its widget network has 470 million unique users worldwide and reaches 43% of the global Web audience. It works with large publishers including NBC Universal, Time Warner and MTV networks and advertisers including Clearasil, Sprint and Honda.
Despite the economic downturn, Radfar said Clearspring's business has continued to grow quarterly. "We're hitting our (financial) numbers so we feel fairly comfortable," he said. The company made an undisclosed number of layoffs at the end of last year.