Tag: Widgets

Iterasi gets more social with RSS feeds, widgets, and public pages

[Editor: Full disclosure, Iterasi is a client of mine, but I was not involved in this announcement.]

http://www.iterasi.net/user/siliconflorist?format=widgetN1Vancouver-based Iterasi, the service that allows you to create your own personal Wayback Machine, took a huge step forward in making its network of users more social, today, when they announced three major additions to their offering: public pages, RSS feeds, and widgets.

Josh Lowensohn at Webware broke the news:

Web page archiving tool Iterasi is getting a small but important update Tuesday morning. Users can now share their stream of archived pages with others as an RSS feed, letting anyone view their saved items either directly in their browser or in a feed-capturing tool like Google Reader or desktop e-mail clients.

In my opinion, these seemingly innocuous changes actually mark a decided change in Iterasi’s stance. With these features, Iterasi moves from being an interesting personal service toward becoming a valuable social service. And by embracing features that allow me to distribute my saved pages to a much, much wider audience, they gain the benefit of more people encountering their service.

I have found a great deal of value in being able to save pages for myself. But now that I have the option of sharing pages with folks? It opens a whole new realm of use for me. Like a more typical social bookmarking service.

Fringe benefits abound. With RSS feeds and widgets, Iterasi just increased its exposure exponentially. I’ve added the widget to this post and I’ll likely add it to the blog (once the Mac version is out and I can use the service regularly.) And, I’m adding the RSS feed to my lifestreaming services, like FriendFeed and Strands.

What’s more, by launching public pages, Iterasi has the potential to rapidly increase its online footprint for search engines and the like—like any other public-facing social network service.

Now, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. As with any new feature on a BETA product, there are some rough spots and some nice-to-haves that didn’t make the cut. There are some areas over which I would like to have control, like skinning the widget and dealing with the publishing function.

But as I’ve mentioned, I see this release as less about “features” and more about “vision.” It’s clear to me that Iterasi is taking a much more social stance. And that’s a very good thing.

To test drive the product, visit Iterasi. To see the public page in action or to get the widget code, please visit the Silicon Florist page on Iterasi.

Portland widget startups on the cusp of something big

Portland is well-known as an creative town. Especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. It’s hard to avoid the moniker with a powerhouse like Wieden+Kennedy in town.

But, anyone who lives here realizes that it’s not just W+K. There are marketing and advertising agencies and boutiques of every size dotting the Portland corporate landscape.

Within that environment, it’s not surprising that marketing and advertising wend their way through the culture of the city. Lately, however, I’ve begun to see this marketing influence popping up in a rather unexpected—but extremely interesting—space: Portland’s Web startups. Specifically those startups that focus on widget development.

It seems that the heretofore lowly widget is taking on the role of something more than a cute small-footprint app. It’s beginning to appear that it may be more than just a way to serve up some content, remotely. Today, in fact, it’s becoming clear that the widget is starting to take on a very important role in the world of marketing communications as one of the most tangible means of interacting with customers.

And two Portland startups on the leading front of widget development have the potential to capitalize that trend.

Earlier this week, Portland-based SplashCast revealed that the company’s Facebook widgets for popular recording artists were outperforming traditional online advertisements. Well, that might be an understatement. SplashCast pegs that performance at “75 times better than the clickthrough rate of traditional banner ads.

Now, to put that in context, SplashCast is seeing about 3% clickthrough rates on those Facebook apps. And that 3% is 75 times better than banner ads are performing.

But, the dismal downfall of banner ads as a format is not the focus, here. The point is that banner ads are an accepted and prevalent format for advertising that don’t hold a candle to the performance of widgets.

Later in the week, SplashCast continued to tout this finding by beginning to describe their apps, not as widgets, but rather “social advertising”:

SplashCasting represents a new form of online marketing called social advertisements – tools marketers use to reach the growing demographic of social network site users.

Social advertising. I might have left it at that, had not another Portland-based widget-building startup taken a tangential and complementary position on the issue.

That startup is StepChange (conspiracy theorists may begin churning on the “companies named with a capital ‘s’ and capital ‘c'” theories, forthwith), a small consultancy that both develops widgets for a number of customers and has some widget-based side projects in the offing, as well.

StepChange is beginning to notice a similar trend. And StepChange’s insight only lends credence to the position that SplashCast is taking on the world of widgets:

While we’ve done some basic Flash/Feed widgets, most of our design and development work has been on Social Media Apps that function more like true “applications” – with our clients requiring a relatively high degree of administration, content management, targeting reporting and integration.

I think these kind of ‘super-widgets-turned-applications’ need a better name, so I’m going to start calling them Distributed Marketing Applications.

In my opinion, the position that StepChange and SplashCast are taking is one that makes absolute—if not completely obvious—sense: social media marketing should be, well, social.

Social media is about interactivity. And feedback. And conversations.

Traditional online advertising—with its dancing gifs and whack-a-mole come-ons—just isn’t cutting it anymore. Traditional advertising is not, for lack of a better term, “interactive.” It’s one way. It’s broadcast.

And those who are deeply engaged in social media are hesitant to consume—if not completely avoid—those grating and annoying advertising formats, leftover remnants from last century’s dotcom failures.

Today’s Web consumers are wanting more. And they’re wanting something with which they can interact.

Widgets—and by extension Portland’s widget developers—offer that interaction for users. They offer something more than broadcast. They offer the potential for communications that are far more interactive.

To put it quite plainly, widgets offer us a form of marketing communications that we, as those being marketed to, “can actually do something with.” And if Portland’s widget developers can crack that code for the untold billions interested in interacting with us as customers, then they stand to have marketing and advertising executives beating a path to their door.

StepChange’s Kevin Tate makes a bet:

I’m also willing to bet that, as more and more companies look to extend their existing sites and services into Social Media, we’re going to see a significant market need for these types of platforms.

I’m beginning to agree with him. And I’m excited to see Portland continue to serve its role as a creative town. And, as a leader in marketing and advertising for what could truly be the next generation of ads.

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