Widget Analytics – Measuring the widgets in the wild

Helping web analysts navigate the measurement and tracking of widgets.

Archive for May, 2008

Social Media Metrics: It’s Time To Tear Down The Wall

Posted by widgetgirl on May 30, 2008

Today I published an article via MediaPost for the Metrics Insider newsletter. I write for them once per month and this is my installment for this month. You can check out the entire series of this newsletter or subscribe on their web site. Writers that you’ll see from week to week include Jim Sterne (President of te WAA), Josh Chasin of comScore, Judah Phillips of Reed Publishing and David Smith. The topics vary from week to week, but offer up some good insights as to what is going on in the metrics world. Enjoy!

“SOCIAL MEDIA METRICS” IS A huge buzz phrase lately — but does anyone REALLY know what it means? Can you define it? The social media space covers a broad set of channels: widgets, blogging, social applications, micro-blogging and more. Each one of these segments, and their associated vendors, are reporting on and introducing new metrics associated with their platform, which some Web analytics tools may or may not be able to tap into. This leaves the marketer in the Web 2.0 space struggling to determine how to integrate and correlate (and reconcile) metrics being reported across all of these media. It is time for the walls to come down and transparency to take over.

Today’s Web marketers are expanding their scope beyond the traditional channels (crazy as it may be, I am referring to display and search marketing here). Forays into creating social applications on Facebook and MySpace platforms, launching campaigns via widgets or following customers on Twitter are tactics being tested by organizations large and small. Measuring these efforts is a huge challenge when the currency hasn’t been established and the data sources are disparate and undocumented. Marketers are demanding metrics — as they should — but this results in new feeds of analytics (if available) that need to be integrated into existing dashboards and marketing analyses.

Where do you begin in evaluating what’s possible or impossible to measure? Questions to start with:

1. Is the data available? Almost every social media channel has some set of metrics being calculated somewhere. The real question is whether they are officially exposed or if a cottage industry group of developers is mining the data through a set of scraping scripts. For you ad agencies and corporate marketers, this is probably not going to fly with your “customers.”

2. How do you get hold of the data? Rudimentary ways of retrieving how many Tweets or how many installs of your app or widget are definitely available. Do a Web search on one of these phrases. and a litany of free tools and Web sites will show up in the results. However, the more sophisticated players in the space are offering their analytics via a Web-based interface or an API for their customers to retrieve the data. APIs offer the most flexibility for incorporation into existing dashboards and other systems.

3. How do I interpret this data? Answer: ask your vendor. When I refer to vendor, I do not mean your Web analytics vendor. While some of them are playing in these various spaces, your best bet is to go to the source (if there is one). Ask your widget platform vendor, your account/sales representative from the social network or blogging platform of your choice. The platforms that are evolving the fastest are starting to work together on standards, while those that have a clear monopoly in their space need to (and should) be documenting how they calculate and display their usage metrics. If you aren’t sure, I challenge you to ask them.

At the end of the day, we are in the midst of an analytics revolution for measuring social media. The metrics are being defined, some consolidation has occurred and standards will follow. The Web Analytics Association has established a Standards Committee to define terms and definitions for measuring how visitors interact with social media content, but this is just a starting point. The vendors have to be ready to “open the kimono,” if you will. Web analytics practitioners and marketers need to know how the data is collected, how it is filtered and how the metrics are calculated. Until we have transparency in the measurement model, the mother lode of marketing dollars will not follow.

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Clearspring raises $18M – widget analytics here we come

Posted by widgetgirl on May 22, 2008

Widget Analytics – here we come! Yesterday Clearspring announced a series C round of funding from NEA of $18M. Our team is very excited about this announcement as it reiterates the momentum around widgets and the growing interest and support in the space.

I am personally excited because our team is continuously working to improve and build upon our widget analytics capabilities. There is so much cool stuff we have in the pipeline and I can’t wait for us to deliver it all to our customers.

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog and sends me emails on what you are doing in the space. Our team is on the warpath to deliver you more – better insights and data so that you can make better business strategy decisions on how you deploy your widgets. Keep the communication coming!

You can read the press release here in its entirety:

McLean, Va., May 21, 2008 — Clearspring Technologies Inc., the world’s largest widget syndication and tracking service, has secured $18 million in a series C funding round that includes leading venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Novak Biddle Venture Partners and other current investors. The new round will fund expansion of Clearspring’s viral marketing network, which currently serves and tracks almost four billion widgets monthly. It will also be used to extend Clearspring’s reach into international markets and further develop its rapidly growing advertising network and vast data infrastructure and optimization services. Clearspring’s category leadership is well-established — according to comScore’s Widget Metrix report, Clearspring tallied 126 million unique widget viewers in March 2008, making it the No. 1 widget platform in the world.

“No other widget company has the breadth of relationships with content publishers, advertisers, developers and social media, as well as the full suite of widget services including syndication, in-depth analytics and easy-to-use monetization tools,” said Harry Weller, partner at NEA. “Clearspring is the leader in this space, and we look forward to working with the company as it expands its platform and extends its reach into global markets.”

Weller will join the Clearspring Board of Directors, joining, among others, Internet pioneers Steve Case, Ted Leonsis and Miles Gilburne. Case, the co-founder of America Online, Leonsis, AOL’s Vice Chairman Emeritus, who recently became Clearspring’s Chairman, and Gilburne are all credited with driving worldwide adoption of the Internet by providing tens of millions of people with their first Internet connection. Also new to the Clearspring board is Nigel Morris, co-founder of Capital One.

“We are excited about partnering with NEA. This partnership will enable us to enter the next phase of our growth and pioneer the next generation of the Social Web,” said Hooman Radfar, Clearspring co-founder and chief executive officer. “Advertisers and publishers rely on us as a channel to reach audiences on the Social Web, and this funding will enable us to extend our platform and services to continue delivering on that promise.”

Clearspring provides the platform and services connecting widget advertisers and publishers to the evolving Social Web. The company has served more than 33 billion widget views since launching its platform in 2007. Clearspring’s platform enables publishers, developers and advertisers to distribute, track and monetize content as widgets to more than 80 social networks, blogs, start pages, and bookmarking sites — including Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Blogger, iGoogle, and Windows Vista.

“Clearspring is definitely hitting on all cylinders. A growing list of world-class customers, incredible growth in the usage of its syndication services, and a significant investment from a firm with NEA’s reputation provide validation that we’re leading the charge into the next evolution of the Web,” said Leonsis. “We’re thrilled that Harry Weller and Nigel Morris have joined the board. Harry brings a proven history of guiding early stage companies to success, and Nigel, who while at Capital One unlocked the market value of their data, brings experience that will help us leverage our vast amount of data to deliver the best end-user experience and the most efficient advertising network on the Social Web.”

Marketers who have used Clearspring’s widget network include mass market consumer brands such as Aquafina, Honda, Snapple, Snickers, Sprint and Virgin Mobile. Other customers include movie and entertainment companies like Blockbuster, Disney, Fox Broadcasting, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures, major sports leagues like the NBA, NFL and NHL, major advertising agencies including 360i, Digitas, JWT, Mediacom, MindShare and Universal McCann, and world renowned media firms such as ESPN, National Geographic, NBC Universal, Newsweek, Time-Warner and Washingtonpost.com. Also, top international recording artists including Linkin Park, Madonna, Radiohead and U2 have successfully launched promotions using Clearspring widgets.

Other news links you should also check out are:

CNET

Mashable

DMWMedia

VentureBeat

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Widgets, Social Applications and RSS Feeds

Posted by widgetgirl on May 16, 2008

After my presentation at SportsMarketing 2.0 last week (Passion, Can you measure it?), I jumped in a cab and high-tailed it from the AT&T ball park back to the Palace Hotel for my panel at 5:00pm. Topic: Widgets, Social Applications and RSS Feeds – what are they and how to measure them. The panel was moderated by my good friend Robbin Steiff of Lunametrics. My co-panelists included John Marshall of Market Motive and Ori Soen of Musestorm.

I kicked it off with a slide presentation of “what is a widget?” Honestly, based on the number of conversations that I have had here at E-metrics, I probably could have paused there for 20 minutes. But this was the Advanced Track and Jim Sterne had given strict orders to bring our “A” game and hit the audience hard with a lot of content. My presentation broke down as follows:

What is a widget?

  • Wikipedia definition: “A web widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate HTML-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation.
  • Simply put – it is a mini web page. And moving beyond the “web” definition, widgets can run on desktops and also on mobile devices.

What do widgets look like?

  • In this slide I walk through several screen shots of various widgets that have run on the Clearspring platform. There are still so many people that do not understand what a widget is. Really, it is just a piece of content that can easily move from one page to another. But a lot of the widgets that we see on our platform are creative applications that promote big brands or provide usability such as games and resource widgets.

What makes a widget sharable?

  1. Visitor clicks on widget to initiate sharing process.
  2. Visitor selects destination site or grabs the embed code
  3. Clearspring widget sharing tools seamlessly allow the user to add the widget to their start page, blog or social networking profile page.

Widgets are changing the game

  • Old – messaging to users was passive in the past. The advertiser had to ‘interrupt’ the visitor to get their attention. Through display advertising and messaging, the engagement was a onte-time experience.
  • Now – publishers and advertisers can interact with their customers and prospects like never before. Users are self-identifying by grabbing widgets and placing them on their pages. This user initiated interaction not only endorses the brand through affiliation, but also establishes a channel in which to communicate and message with the customer.

Killer reach through audience extension

  • Each of us knows that there is only so much traffic you can drive to your site. Audience can be built through branding, display advertising, SEM and email. Extending your audience off-domain (those visitors who are interacting with your content off of your primary domain) is a huge opportunity that is both exciting and a bit scary.
  • Check out the graph below. This is representative of what can happen when you let your content go viral off of your domain. The gray shaded area represents on-domain traffic while the blue represents off-domain traffic. The reach in views to your content off-domain is unlimited. I am not saying that building audience on-domain isn’t possible. What I am saying is that allowing your content to travel through the viral channels (enabled by technology) is a much more efficient way of building audience.

Widget Analytics

  • Widget Analytics has the traditional metrics that we associate with web analytics – Unique Visitors, View, Clicks, Average Time Spent and Custom Events.
  • What’s new? I’ll be brief here as you can read my other posts on Grabs, Placements and Active Placements.
  • What’s missing: Sessions (you can read my post on that one).

Widget-Watch: What is next on the widget analytics horizon? Or just widgets for that matter.

  • Standards – as many or you know, the Web Analytics Association formed a Social Media Standards committee specifically to address Social Media metric standards. Our focus is on setting definitions on metrics that may be used to measure various aspects of social media. This includes widgets, blogs, bookmarks, social networks, downloadable media, streaming media and mobile.
  • Integration with web analytics vendors – WA vendors can help you deduplicate your on and off domain audience so you can direct measure your reach. However, WA vendors can’t establish the spread patterns that only the widget analytics tools can measure. There is overlap in the space – but there are distinct questions that only each tool can measure.
  • Monetization models – how do you monetize your off domain content? Clearspring has several models to do so and more will emerge over the coming years. In-widget advertising is evolving and will be an exciting space to watch throughout 2008.

Overall it was a fun panel and I received a lot of follow up email and comments from many of you. If you were there in the audience and took away something meaningful that you are applying to your business, let me know. I would love to hear from you!

TGIF

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