Like most good Internet notions before it, the branded widget format may be suffering from its own success. How does a brand stand out now in libraries crowded with thousands of these single-purpose social media apps?
In steps, mediaFORGE - which built apps for Mitt Romney and PetSmart charities - is trying to solve the problem by marrying old new media distribution with new new media formats (say that five times fast). Its rich-media ad unit displays and distributes fully functional widgets. The banner ad behaves like a widget, and the widget behaves more like an ad.
Overstock.com testing showed the new IAB-compliant ad unit ran the retailer's widget that pulled in daily special product offerings. Viewers could play with the Overstock catalog in the banner just as they would in a stand-alone widget, but those who clicked through on the richer media to the site became even richer prospects."We saw conversions double the rate of traditional banners," says mediaFORGE CEO Tony Zito. The new ad unit has a residual effect other campaigns won't achieve, because the viewer can hijack the widget from the ad itself and relocate it to their social network profile or desktop. Overstock customers who did hijack the widget added another 8 percent in sales revenue to the campaign. mediaFORGE is launching similar campaigns for Nordstrom and Back Country.