Widget Analytics – Measuring the widgets in the wild

Helping web analysts navigate the measurement and tracking of widgets.

Archive for April, 2008

Widget Installation Base – Entrenching your brand

Posted by widgetgirl on April 29, 2008

Distributing your content in the form of widgets is like infiltrating the internet with your brand. As widgets are grabbed and placed on web sites, their staying power is where the impact of the widget really shines. I have written about this metric before – it is core to widget analytics. The Active Placements metric is critical in measuring how well you have spread the widget and whether or not your widget installation base is active, expanding or contracting.

When a widget is grabbed and placed, we measure this with two separate metrics:

  • Grabs: the number of times that a widget was grabbed. This metric is cumulative in nature and is grouped by the source domain that spread the widget.
  • Placements Created: the number of times that a widget placement was created and viewed at least once on a domain. The criteria of “Viewed at least once” is important because someone could grab the embed code for a widget (or use the built in sharing services of a widget platform), but never actually place the widget. When this happens, we call it a grab attempt, but not a successful widget placement.

To put this into context, if I grab a widget from Facebook.com and place it on iGoogle, this would count as one Grab from Facebook and one Placement Created on iGoogle. Each of these metrics are specific to the action of spreading the widget. However, once the widget has been placed on a web site, we then need to measure how long it stays on the user’s page. Widgets can be deleted and they can also go dormant where they just aren’t viewed anymore.

Once the content has been placed, measurement of the install base is the next step for understanding if your content is sticking to where it was placed or if it is simply being placed and then churning off. The metric to analyze the install base is as follows:

  • Active Placements: The count of widget placements that have been viewed at least once during the specified time period.

Let’s imagine that we have the following scenario:

  1. A widget is grabbed 5,000 times resulting in 5,000 Placements Created.
  2. After one week we have 5,000 Active Placements for the week.
  3. During week two the widget is grabbed an additional 500 times resulting in 500 new Placements Created.
  4. After two weeks we have 4,600 Active Placements for the week.

Is this a good scenario or a bad one? It is actually not a good one from a longevity standpoint. Although having an install base of 5,500 widget placements is good, the fact that the Active Placements metric is declining while new placements continue to be created indicates that the install base is churning faster than the spreading of the widget can replace it.

There is always going to be churn to your install base – so goes the life of the widget. One needs to watch this metric and react when there is a negative trend. Refreshing the content of the widget and/or finding new web sites or locations within a site to seed the widget can help boost the stickiness of the widget and how long the widget lives on a user’s page.

iVillage has a widget that is one of the most popular on our platform. This widget has been placed over 850k times…read that…850K times. The widget has slowly made its way to the top of the Friendster Widget Gallery and has gained popularity on that particular network. The stats for the widget are available on the widget’s home page. Active Placements aren’t reported here, but I am sure that the widget creator is watching that metric and optimizing based on it’s trend 🙂

To check out this widget, you can click on the widget to visit the widget’s home page on Clearspring.com. Or simply click here.

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WAA/IAB – Collaboration on Metric Standards

Posted by widgetgirl on April 21, 2008

As many of you know, I have been working very closely with the Web Analytics Association and the IAB to help iron out the confusion to the member organizations on metric standards for web measurement. The below press release is the result of this effort – and although that it may seem like words on paper, there has been a lot of thought and effort into how this communication will work across the organizations. I have been personally involved from WAA’s side and have been appointed the “Liaison from the WAA to the IAB”. As an active member of the WAA’s Standards Committee, I can tell you that the focus is always on the practitioner and the users of these metrics – how do we make the terminology clear and consistent across the “practice of web analytics”.

To understand the differences between the WAA and the IAB, you can read my posting from several months back that also ran in the Metrics Insider email newsletter published by MediaPost.com.

This formal announcement on collaboration is an exciting effort which will be met with both enthusiasm and criticism. I welcome comments from “both sides of the aisle” on this one. I do want to hear what the questions and concerns are and will actively do my best to respond to each.

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The Web Analytics Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau Increase Collaboration on Web Metrics Standards

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwire – April 21, 2008 ) – Today the Web Analytics Association (WAA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced their intention to work more closely together to increase consistency and clarity around Web metrics standards. Both organizations have independently made strides toward the standardization of terms commonly used in the advertising and analytics fields. The purpose of the new partnership is to better communicate the goals of metrics standards to the two organizations’ respective memberships and target audiences, as well as to better convey the goals of each organization and the subtle differences that may occur among metrics standards.

The WAA and the IAB have historically had different goals for metrics standardization. The WAA’s mission is to foster the growth and evolution of the Web analytics industry by encouraging that the name and definition of each metric is consistent across vendors. This reduces confusion for analytics professionals who are comparing vendors and integrating data from different providers.

The IAB is focused on increasing the reliability, consistency and transparency of the metrics used for buying and selling interactive advertising. The IAB’s Measurement Guidelines include specific technical processes that ensure the validity of interactive advertising currency.

While both the IAB and the WAA work toward standardization of metrics, due to the different missions they have, members of both organizations will benefit from increased communication.

“The partnership and transparency between the WAA and the IAB will ultimately help to abate confusion, which is exactly why we both advocate standards in the first place,” said Jim Sterne, founding chairman of the WAA. “While it is inevitable there will be differences in the methods we use and the standards we endorse, we each know about those differences and are able to educate our members before the public announcement is made.”

“We are very pleased to collaborate with the WAA,” said Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the IAB. “While our missions are different we share the goal of building the interactive marketplace.”

About the IAB:

Founded in 1996, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (www.iab.net) represents over 375 leading interactive companies that actively engage in and support the sale of interactive advertising. IAB members are responsible for selling over 86% of online advertising in the United States. On behalf of its members, the IAB is dedicated to the continuing growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend. The IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices, fields interactive effectiveness research, and educates marketers, agencies, and media companies, as well as the wider business community, about the value of interactive advertising.

About the Web Analytics Association

The Web Analytics Association is a not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to promoting the understanding of web analytics through education, advocacy, standards, research and technology. Founded by web analytics industry leaders, the mission of the association is to unite and foster the interests of practitioners, vendors, consultants and educators who use, sell, install, implement, consult, teach or train in the field of web analytics. For more information, or to become a member, please visit http://www.webanalyticsassociation.org.

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Widget Grab Rates – the good, the bad and the ugly

Posted by widgetgirl on April 15, 2008

Widget grab rates, the percentage of views where a widget is grabbed and shared to another web site, is a highly watched metric for many publishers and advertisers. Watching this metric vary from widget to widget is an interesting phenomena. Akin to asking the question, “how do I improve my conversion rate?”, we hear the same question as it applies to widgets – “how do I improve my grab rate?”

Rockin’ grab rates, like conversion rates, break down to a simple set of strategies:

  1. Good content – are people even going to want to grab your widget? You can’t start measuring success or failure without a little self reflection. If the content stinks, it doesn’t really matter what your brand is or what you are trying to sell or promote. The widget needs to be entertaining, interactive and have a shelf life beyond one view.
  2. “The button” – visitors need to know that your widget is “grabbable”. I can’t tell you how many widgets I have seen where you have no idea that it is a widget. The “Grab” or “Share” button is not large enough or does not contain a call-to-action. Icons don’t work – customer need to be alerted to the fact that you can grab the widget.
  3. Get them at “Hello” – Just showing the visitor the “Grab” button is not enough. You need to do it as early in their exposure to the widget as possible. I have seen a few widgets where the sharing mechanism isn’t even displayed until 15 to 30 seconds into viewing the widget. We love our visitors, but you need to SPELL-IT-OUT-FOR-THEM. Short of having a blinking sign that says “grab me” as a pre-roll to your video, game or interactive Flash file, be sure you don’t hide the button until they have “experienced your brand”.
  4. Strategic Seeding – put the widget somewhere that visitors will find it. On your own web site, that means above the fold, on a page that visitors will associate the content with the widget, or even in its own web site section where you promote all of your widgets. Don’t hide your widget – just as you don’t hide your “buy now” or “sign up here” buttons on your site, widgets deserve the same amount of promotion depending on your goals for distribution and virality.

Widgets are like mini-web sites. They reflect your brand and reach audiences that may not normally be exposed to your brand or content. Given their sticking power and ability to travel, you need to optimize this channel just like any other marketing or distribution effort. Think of sharing as a conversion funnel, just as you may think of your own web site. Tuning and optimization are critical to achieving your goals because flinging your widget into the wild will not guarantee its success!

Madonna Widget

Check out one of the newer widgets on the Clearspring platform – the Madonna widget!  I am a big Madonna fan (no comments, please) and love the fact that you can watch an entire music video in this widget.  Check it out!

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