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Jeremy Phillips, COO, Marketclusters

A few years ago, a widget was a little chunk of engineering – a gizmo, a grommet or a thingumibob.

Today, a widget is still a little chunk of engineering, but made of software rather than something you can hold in your hand. Widgets have invaded the web, the mobile and our desktops.  But the business models are still developing and changing rapidly.

So why is everyone talking about them, and why are widget developers receiving increasing amounts of funding?

One key element is the contextual, “spontaneous” nature of widgets – for advertising, for promoting and distributing all kinds of media across various channels, devices and social media sites (you can see one of our own StrategyEye widgets to the right of this blog!). Widgets are also a powerful vehicle for peer recommendation and viral marketing – letting the audience and community do the work for you.

In December 2007 alone, around 580 million web surfers touched upon a widget of some shape or form. With those kind of numbers, it isn’t surprising that some high-growth widget management companies are building real businesses around their services. Provider revenues may come through monetization of the distribution network, charging for usage of syndication infrastructure, and a multiplicity of experimental business models.

It’s such a hot topic that I’ll be focussing my MidemNet session on Sunday 27th entirely on widgets – talking through their evolution over the last year, the opportunities that they offer the music industry, and introducing a couple of hot companies that are leading innovation in this space to promote and sell music.

Roland Deal will describe the way that Kadoink uses widgets to join up online and mobile communities, and Gerd Leonhard will talk about the viral spread of Sonific‘s playlist-based widgets for promotion across multiple web platforms and communities.

We’ll be in the MidemNet Interactive Room at 11am on Sunday 27th. Do join us, even if you’re feeling a little bleary after a big Saturday night out in Cannes!


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