Develop a widget strategy to expand your reach

By Steve Outing

As a strategy to grow your news website, developing and deploying smartly designed widgets is an important one. This year you’ll see me write and hear me talk a lot about widgets and the overall concept of spreading your content far and wide online. News publishers by now should have deep-sixed the old notion that their content is sacred and should be restricted to viewing only on their websites. They must get used to the idea that their content can be just about anywhere — and that’s a good thing.

And it’s no longer just about getting people to click through to your website (although that obviously still is a good thing). You need to let people view your content wherever they may be. If they’re hanging out on Facebook, let them watch your video or read your story there. Are they seeing your content that’s been placed on an obscure blog? Let them view it there. Don’t force them to click through to your site, but accept the viewing session on that remote site. If they want to click through to see more from you, they will; there’s no need to force it. (Make sure your widget makes it obvious how to get to more content on your site.)

Here’s a widget from ESPN’s WidgetCenter that demonstrates the possibilities:

There is one important thing missing: advertising. While there’s not a lot of room on a widget like this, you could still put an advertiser’s small logo on it, and charge for those (remote) impressions. I expect we’ll start to see ads implemented into news organizations’ web widgets soon enough.

Of course, there is a downside to widget advertising. Your widget, and thus the advertiser’s message, could show up on “unsavory” websites. No advertiser wants that. So write a terms of service that allows you to restrict where your widget shows up — and monitor it, shutting down uses by websites that violate your TOS.

Here’s are a few more widgets from ESPN.com:

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!