KickApps, Clearspring Help Widgets Grow Up

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teenagers.jpgADOTAS – Are widgets exiting their awkward teen years? The social app, often seen as a gimmicky fad for adolescents on social networking sites, is increasingly being seen as a viable method to get interactive ads to key demographic groups. The latest news from the sector: KickApps, a white-label widget creator has penned a distribution deal with Clearspring Technologies, a widget syndicator.

KickApps says the partnership will enable publishers to build and incorporate interactive widgets into their site, in addition to tracking how users are employing the widgets. Clearspring will promote KickApps’ new WYSIWYG Widget Studio (currently in beta) – a self-service widget-authoring environment – to Clearspring’s booming user base (47.5 million strong in April, according to comScore).

The monetization of social media apps is still considered to be a complex problem, but Michael Chin, senior VP of marketing at KickApps told ADOTAS that the partnership tackles the daunting issues of creepiness, context and relevancy often seen among social apps.

“What has been lacking is context. General social networks and applications lack context and thus have to resort to using methods like behavioral techniques, e.g. cookies, to improve relevancy,” Chin said. “These methods fall short of fulfilling the potential which social media promises, not to mention they’re creepy. Sites using KickApps are always in the context of a given topic or niche. For example, Budget Travel’s social media site is a very prime audience for brands trying to reach travel enthusiasts, as is Popular Mechanics’ social media for motorcycle enthusiasts. We’re also able to take information which people have submitted publicly about themselves, as well as their interactions with media, i.e. commenting on photos and videos, etc., and aggregate to inform more intelligent ad serving, as well as editorial programming, other applications and marketing.”

The audience for widgets is certainly there and more money is being allocated to widget advertising as well – widgets alone are poised to boost social media marketing by 70% to about $1.6 billion this year, according to eMarketer.

“Widgets have proven to be a very effective vehicle for distributing content and marketing messages in a highly viral manner,” said Alex Blum, CEO of KickApps, in a written statement. “As we’ve done with social networking, user-generated content and video players, we’re reducing the barriers to entry for publishers and Madison Ave. to begin monetizing widgets using WidgeADs. Our partnership with Clearspring brings together the core pieces that will define this new market opportunity.”

Clearspring’s advertising solutions are fully integrated with the top ad-serving systems including DoubleClick and Mediaplex. Clearspring also offers a full set of analytics and reporting tools so advertisers can monitor activity as WidgeADs traverse the Web and can manage media placements in response to each widget’s viral performance.

“As a combined offering, advertisers will have an end-to-end solution for creating, deploying, managing and monetizing their widgets,” Chin said. “All of which plug right into their site’s own social graph which is created via KickApps.”

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