Widgets are different forms of tools made available on website or on a user’s desktop. They are relatively new concept associated with Web 2.0. They either provide some functionality, like a calculator, or they provide real-time information, for example on news or weather.

Site owners can encourage partners to place them on their sites and this will help educate people about your brand, possibly generating backlinks for SEO purposes and also engaging with a brand when they’re not on the brand owner’s site. Widgets offer partner sites the opportunity to add value to their visitors through the gadget functionality or content, or to add their brand through association with you (co-branding).

Widgets are often placed in the left or right sidebar, or in the body of an article. They are relatively easy for site owners to implement, usually a couple of lines of Javascript, but this does depend on the content management system.

The main types of widgets are:

  • Web widgets – used for a long time as part of affiliate marketing, but they are getting more sophisticated by enabling searches on site, real-time price updates or even streaming video.
  • Google gadgets – different content can be incorporated into personalised Google ‘iGoogle’ homepage.
    Desktop and operating system gadgets – Microsoft Windows and Apple operating systems provide dashboard gadgets which make it easier to subscribe to information updates.
  • Social sharing widgets – these encourage site visitors to share content they like, effectively voting on it. Share buttons provided by the networks or aggregators like AddThis.com or ShareThis.com are now essential part of many sites to assist in ‘viral amplification’.
  • Facebook applications – Facebook have created an API known as the Facebook platform (application programming interface) to enable developers to create small interactive programs that site owners can add to their sites to personalise them. Charitable site Just Giving has branded app with several hundred users.

Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2012. Digital marketing: strategy, implementation and practice (Vol. 5). Harlow: Pearson.

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