“While widgets may seem very newfangled, the underlying philosophy is actually a very traditional marketing approach,” Shatz says. “The widgets are consistent with our desire to market our content as broadly as possible online.”
For Random House, the widget is primarily a tool to support the publisher’s digital Insight Service, which contains indexed (and searchable) pages from more than 12,000 of its titles. According to Shatz, the widget was designed to allow people to share book information without having to build their own user interface.
A ‘Frictionless’ Environment
“It has to do with the need for frictionless choices,” Jensen stresses. “If there’s a barrier … [users] will go elsewhere. There is just too much to choose from [on the Web].”
The NAP applies this principle to its podcasts and plans the same level of usability for video content.
“At the moment they are reading a blog or they have something else going on, if there’s an audio version, they can click on it and do the dishes while listening to it,” Jensen says. “That fits their schedule.”
Of course, it’s no secret that the Web offers boundless marketing and selling opportunities, especially if one is willing to accept a lag on profitability. For IDW, the decision to offer free content on Web sites like Wowio.com came as a result, Adams says, of “learning the lessons of what works successfully with YouTube and Facebook”: video promotion, user-generated content and partnering with providers who enjoy a significant Web presence.
“We’ve made a concerted effort to dabble in these things, even though we know in the short run it’s not going to generate revenue,” Adams says. “We are doing a lot of different things from a revenue standpoint. They are all pretty insignificant [in and of themselves], but we hope to make a profit later on.”