Run Free, Little Widget

Yahoo has thrown open its mobile widget development platform. Yahoo Blueprint has been around for nearly a year as a tool for making widgets for the Yahoo Go mobile application. In September, the company updated the app to let developers build standalone widgets for Java, Windows and Symbian devices. (It’s hinted that it’s talking to Apple about enabling the iPhone.)

Blueprint widgets can include advertisements served by ad networks — and Yahoo has made it very easy to sign up for its own ads, which it has delivered for more than a year. Free-ranging mobile widgets could open up new ad inventory for Yahoo, especially important since it’s thrown in the towel on SEM. It plans to begin running search ads from Google in October, unless the deal gets an anti-trust slapdown from the Feds.

There’s opportunity for agencies, too. If Blueprint delivers on its write-once, run-on-any-mobile-device promise, it could radically simplify the process of creating and distributing mobile advertising. Not only would creatives be freed from the hassle of testing their ads on thousands of handsets, the widget format would let them create advertiser-specific mini-apps that can be downloaded, or passed along virally. 

An agency kid with Java chops could build a client’s widget in a few days, post it to Yahoo Go, Widgetbox and Plusmo, then sit back and let it work. But media agencies won’t necessarily be cut out of the loop. The ones with social media strategists can identify the best blogs and niche sites to create buzz.
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