Widget Analytics – Measuring the widgets in the wild

Helping web analysts navigate the measurement and tracking of widgets.

Posts Tagged ‘widget’

The widget-mobile. Allowing your distributed content to travel freely.

Posted by widgetgirl on December 31, 2007

I went out to lunch with a friend the other day and once again I got the question of “what does your company do again??”. “We have a widget serving platform” was my response. Come again?

So what is a widget serving platform? Really, it is a vehicle to allow your content to leap off of your site and traverse the Internet without parental guidance. Think of a car, plane, train, etc. Each one of these vehicles serves a purpose – they get you from point “A” to point “B”. The vehicle itself is just that, it does not care who the passengers are, it is there to provide a service. Widget platforms, and Clearspring’s specifically, serves that exact same purpose. We provide the vehicle, you provide the passenger.

Monkey Car

The basic steps of “wrapping” your widget (think of “loading your car”) are as follows:

  1. Create an account on Clearspring.com (this takes literally less than 30 seconds).
  2. Select “Add Widget”.
  3. Select your widget type (flash, js, image, RSS, web site).
  4. Enter the parameters about your widget – source URL and widget name.
  5. Click on “Save new widget”
  6. Publish your widget by either “grabbing the embed code” to place it on a specific web site – OR – use one of our sharing tools to publish it directly to a social network or widget gallery.

Here is a technical description of the above: Provide the widget serving platform with the source URL path of your widget and we’ll provide you with our widget code that will request your specific widget when it loads on the page. As visitors want to “grab” your widget for themselves, our platform (the flash container that is wrapping your widget) will provide the “bridges” for the widget to travel to MySpace, Facebook, iGoogle, Netvibes, etc. The “bridges” and the ability to track where your widget is traveling is what the widget serving platform brings to the table. A one or two click process to push the widget from one page to another is the vehicle itself. Going back to the “automobile” example, the car has an engine, ability to travel through rain, snow and sleet. The widget container has the ability to drive from MySpace to Facebook, Facebook to iGoogle and so forth.

These are the steps you need to take in order to successfully load a widget onto a widget serving platform. The main thing to note here is that the platform doesn’t host your content, you do. So you have control over updating the content, deleting it, modifying it – you are in control of what your visitors see.

Is it easy to publish a widget, yes! The difficult part is designing a widget and determining what the content will be. I wrote a post a few weeks ago that outlines the steps for a successful widget strategy. Anyone can build a widget, just as anyone can build a web site. Content is still king – and the creation of content that is engaging and compelling to the user is critical in launching it for viral promotion.

Happy New Year!

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Measuring interactivity within a widget

Posted by widgetgirl on October 29, 2007

Today marks an exciting product release from Clearspring! The team’s been working the past few months to roll out interaction analytics – specifically, the ability to measure how visitors are interacting with a widget. The metrics that we have put together break down as follows:

  • Clicks – The number of times a widget was clicked.
  • Clicked Views – The number of views where a widget was clicked.
  • Click Rate – Total clicks divided by total views.
  • CPCV (Clicks per clicked view) – Clicks divided by clicked views.
  • Time Spent – The average time spent per widget view as defined by the time that the page loads till the visitor navigates away from the page that the widget is on or closes their browser.
  • Interaction Time – The average time spent per widget view as defined by the aggregate amount of time that a user interacted with a widget.

Clicks – this metric is pretty straight forward, the number of times that a widget was clicked. The clicks that we are including are user initiated clicks on the widget. What we are not including are the clicks to share the widget. A visitor can click on the share services menu and expend a few clicks to share their widget into any one of the social networks (or even to just get the embed code). The clicks that we are including are those clicks where the visitor is interacting with the widget. A great example of this is the new Bee Movie (registration required for this widget). The widget allows you to “Bathe”, “Feed”, “Sleep” your bee. Each time you click on these buttons and interact with the widget, the visitor is generating a click.

Boo on WordPress for not allowing the insertion of widgets! So here is a screen shot of the Bee Movie widget – but you can click on the link above and grab the widget directly from Paramount’s site.

Bee Movie

Clicked Views – this metric is a derivative of clicks and views, the number of views where a widget was clicked. I think this is a great metric to measure if visitors are even drawn to your widget. It assumes that you want a visitor to click on your widget and/or that someone has tried to share your widget.

Click Rate – similar to clicked views, this metric is displayed as a percentage rate and gives the analyst a benchmark of the percentage of views where someone clicks on the widget.

CPCV (clicks per clicked view) – I love this metric. If you have a highly interactive widget where visitors can either play a game or interact heavily with your widget (like the Bee Movie for example), this metric will help you measure the engagement level of your widget. If your widget is merely a video or a vehicle for getting visitors back to your website, then clicked views or click rate will probably suffice.

Time Spent – measuring how long someone spends viewing your widget is not the easiest metric to tackle. If you think about it, page view duration in standard web analytics is really derived by the difference between the time stamp of two pages that have been viewed. In the case of a widget view, a visitor is not required to refresh the page….hence how does one calculate this. The team here had to weigh how “chatty” to make your widget in alerting that it is still alive on the page with two goals:

  1. Maintain user experience by not reaching out to the server every time a visitors touches the widget.
  2. Provide the most precise measurement of time spent available amongst the widget provider-sphere.

The end result, a default setting of 30 second “pings” back to our server that can decay incrementally over time if a visitor is not interacting. However, in the event that a visitor interacts with the widget, all clicks, events and an update on the time spent metric is sent within 5 seconds. We provide the Widget Creator the capability to turn this setting up or down depending on the type of widget that they have. There is more documentation on the Clearspring site as to how this works, but the point is that measuring the difference between two time stamps like traditional web analytics is not applicable here. One could easily overwhelm the amount of requests back to the server for analytics and degrade user performance.

Interaction Time – thank you web analytics village for helping me get my hands around this metric. The interaction metric measures the precise amount of time that a visitor interacted with the widget. So if they moused over the widget for 10 seconds at the beginning of their widget view and then moused over it again for 25 seconds five minutes later, the total interaction time would be 35 seconds.

Other cool stuff to check out this week:

Fox.com has launched a very cool 24 widget! I am a huge fan of the show was and was so psyched to see this widget on the Clearspring platform. What is interesting about their deployment is that Fox is using Clearspring’s new Launchpad platform. The new product we’ve deployed allows you to seed the widget sharing menu adjacent to your widget or just add a button to your page that invokes an expandable or pop-up menu to share your widget. Very cool stuff!

24 Trailer Widget

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