Cingular Plays With Widgets

In the race to create contextual advertising that is equal parts relevant and inconspicuous, Cingular has partnered with the Silver Spring, MD-based Freewebs, a multimedia marketing and Web publishing company, to launch a new campaign combining ringtones, widgets, and user-generated content.

Building on the original Cingular Sounds campaign, the new initiative focuses on connecting users to their favorite music artists.

At they are invited to "rock out," taking a link to the Cingular Sounds landing page. There, they can download ringtones, rewrite song lyrics, and upload videos of themselves dancing to the featured artist's new single.

Randomly chosen videos will be hosted on the Freewebs home page each week, allowing users to vote for the most creative one.

Freewebs' reported 17 million users represent a significant audience for Cingular, but what may be more lucrative is that users are allowed to take the multimedia widgets with them.

By allowing viewers to post a video or photo widget on a non-related home page, the platform creates further opportunities for consumer interaction.

"Users can take this branded experience with them," said Freewebs Vice President of advertising, Chris Cunningham. "And yet it's not a blatant advertisement ... it becomes more like content."

Freewebs has run successful widget-based campaigns for global brands like Adidas, Sony and Reebok. By building the price of developing and maintaining widgets into an overall campaign's media spend, the company has been able to sidestep any hesitations due to the medium's newness.

As part of a package, Cingular, for example, will drive traffic to both the Freewebs site, and its own Web page, through banner ads.

"Widgets are gaining acceptance in the industry," added Cunningham, "especially as our clients find incredible success with this platform."

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