widgets

AOL Combines buy.at with Goowy Widgets

AOL’s integration of its services into the Platform-A advertising operation continues as it is now combining the recently acquired Goowy widget application with its buy.at affiliate network (itself acquired last year).

This is a big deal for a couple of reasons. First, this opens up affiliate marketing, in earnest, to the social web. Affiliate marketing has traditionally been restricted to the realm of static sites and blogs because of limited tracking technology and creatives. However, this widget play changes the game.

For example, Ticketmaster.com is the first buy.at advertiser to work with Platform-A in developing and distributing this new affiliate feature. The widget, called “EventEngine,” can be tailored to promote specific Ticketmaster events. All ticket purchases that originate from Ticketmaster’s widget are credited to the buy.at affiliate network publisher.

Once a publisher places a widget on their website, anyone (including the publisher) can grab that widget and place it on various locations on the Web, including social networks, desktops and blogs. The original publisher earns revenue for each sale driven by the widget.

Secondly, this makes sense for advertisers. Ticketmaster’s example with EventEngine shows that widgets can and will transform the online advertising and marketing landscape in the coming years by leveraging the best of the social web and performance marketing. In many ways, this is the type of solution that many of us have been calling for, and it is great to see an ad or affiliate network finally answering the call.

Nice work, Platform-A.

Google’s Friend Connect and Long Tail Marketing

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This is interesting. Basically, sometime tonight you’ll be able to grab a snippet of code and install it on your site/blog allowing you to combine that site with your activities in various social networks…

Google Press Center: News Announcement: “Websites that are not social networks may still want to be social — and now they can be, easily. With Google Friend Connect (see http://www.google.com/friendconnect following this evening’s Campfire One), any website owner can add a snippet of code to his or her site and get social features up and running immediately without programming — picking and choosing from built-in functionality like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.”

Here are some of the more “long tail” implications of Friend Connect:

“Google Friend Connect is about helping the ‘long tail’ of sites become more social,” said David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google. “Many sites aren’t explicitly social and don’t necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard. Fortunately, there’s an emerging wave of social standards — OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making ‘any app, any site, any friends’ a reality.”

And here are the immediate benefits possible:

Without requiring coding experience, Google Friend Connect gives site owners a way to attract and engage more people by giving visitors a way to connect with friends on their websites.

Drive traffic: people who discover interesting sites can bring their friends with them, and can opt-in to publish their activities on those sites back into their social network, attracting even more visitors.

Increase engagement: access to friends and OpenSocial applications provides more interesting content and richer social experiences.

Less work: any site can have social components without hiring a programming team or becoming a social network.

I see this as the culmination of the widget craze that swept the online world in 2007 and a way to start bringing in tangible benefits for website owners and bloggers. In other words, the more efficient back-and-forth between social networks and sites/blogs will only increase traffic and exposure for both (if the person behind them is interesting, relevant or adds something to the viewers’ lives).

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