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By Popular Demand...

Fri, 13 Jul 2007 12:38:00 -0100

The opening video from WidgetCon '07, starring Freewebs VP of Ad Sales Chris Cunningham. 
A most excellent acting debut...but is anyone really surprised that a sales guy can act?   ;-)

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Also on YouTube:

Hot Shots

Thu, 12 Jul 2007 10:31:00 -0100

WidgetCon '07 in Pictures


What We Learned

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 18:05:00 -0100

It's all about the people: people-powered media, conversational marketing, engagement marketing, active marketing, open engagement, virality...whichever phrase you pick, it comes down to people being engaged with content and one another.  At Freewebs, I call it 'social publishing.'

The rising popularity of widgets means advertisers and marketers need to let go.  They will, in essence, lose control as that control shifts to the user.  They can create a widget, but then they need to set it free.

Both Chris Jones and Steve Rubel talk about widget marketing as natural evolution.  From the agora in ancient Greece, where people discussed, debated and traded to the seemingly chaotic digital space of today. Both utilize the core elements that have always and will always drive people: money, power and vanity.  Widgets are just the latest expression of social interaction.

There are still questions to be answered, or at least discussed.  What happens when the campaign ends?  How do we determine standards for widget tracking?  What metrics are most appropriate and accurate?  How do you pitch widgets to risk-averse clients?  What makes a widget viral?

The correct pronunciation of Adidas is ah-dee-dahs.

It takes a village to raise a WidgetCon.   ;-)

Thanks to everyone for a great day!

from blogging central,
andrea, jeff  and the whole Freewebs team

Closing Remarks

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 17:47:00 -0100

Haroon Mokhtarzada, CEO of Freewebs, takes the stage to thank everyone for attending, for their interest and active participation.  He talks about how Freewebs started, saying it’s always first and foremost been about giving the user a compelling, valuable and worthwhile experience, and that remains true as we think about widgets.  Freewebs, as a media company, will have ads…so how do we make that a good experience for users?  How can we include ads that provide value, rather than an intrusion?   Widgets can solve that problem, by turning advertising into engaging and, above all, useful content. 

Whether widgets are found through searching, serendipitous wandering or actively pulled in, widgets put the control in the hands of the users.

Haroon then demos (for the first time in public) the brand new almost-in-beta Freewebs Page Editor.  I think we all held our breath as he tried to access the beta server….always risky...and, phew! he did.  We all watched as he created a page for his daughter’s upcoming first birthday, adding a picture and a widget countdown clock in the blink of an eye.  Okay, I’m not so objective here but it was pretty sweet and smooth, especially since it’s not even in alpha yet.  The point is, Freewebs is evolving just as widget marketing is evolving. We' re all trying new things in an open and vibrant space in an effort to make technology that is easy, useful and fun.

In the final moments of our very first WidgetCon, Haroon recognizes the challenges ahead but says they are in no way insurmountable. 

It’s a fascinating space, Haroon says, and we can test and learn our way through it. He  suggests we continue the conversation started today, working together to find answers to the questions and collectively figure out the path to make widgets successful for all.

The Third Panel

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 17:40:00 -0100

Analyst Roundtable: Widgets in the Web Ecosystem – Obstacles and Opportunities
The last panel is moderated by Tom Ryan, Entrepreneur in Residence at Bessemer Ventures.   In this final panel (the home stretch for you sports metaphor fans), we hear from folks from Gartner, Jupiter Research, Forrester Research and Novak Biddle Venture Partners.

(image) Widgets incorporate three key marketing components: viral marketing, search marketing and media buying.  An active discussion follows about metrics, and the reliability of widget numbers.  At this point, we’re talking about fairly controlled widgets.  When consumers start creating more mash-ups, then we could really enter the realm of widget chaos.   The ease of adding widgets will accelerate adoption, but all agree that widgets do work now -- they allow for advanced self-expression.  There's also room for various types of widgets (advertising, transaction, etc.).   Phil from Novak Biddle said the quick growth and adoption of widgets has been both unexpected and amazing.   

Of course, standards will be key. A lack of mutually agreed upon standards is making advertisers nervous and this is a challenge that will need to be overcome.

Audience question: where is DRM and IP in this envoironment?

Phil: A destination property has value, the ability to make strong distribution happen is a value. People will pay for the ability to distribute a widget. Managing placement is also a critical value. DRM protection however is a concern. Widgets are not yet secure enough.

Audience question: When concentrating on user-generated content and virality, how will we track down the mavens and connectors of the world?

 Phil: This will be critical. You’ll be looking for people who are actively involved in creating, websites, widgets, etc. People who are involved.

The panelists agree - a lot of money will be spent on this. Finding people who are engaged and likely to be in the know.

Is there the possibility of a pay-per-post model, where people make money to promote particular widgets?  Appeal to the active mavens, the panelists suggest, those who are most engaged and work with them as a distribution platform.

Is there the need for a Google AdSense for widgets?  Authenticity needs to be preserved, but everyone engaged in the conversation, feeling like there might be an opportunity there. 

The marketers aren’t sure what they want or need to measure, and figuring out the metrics and mechanism is not trivial.  But the panel agrees that while widget marketing is in the early days, it is happening and it is the right time.