Measuring Widgets by Defining Viral-ity, Reach and Engagement


I regularly am asked three questions:1. What makes a great widget? 2. What makes a widget viral? 3. How do you measure a widget?

Three buzz words come out these questions (or are tied to directly them): "reach", "viral", and "engagement". And in the end, I argue that engagement is the most critical of the three because the other two are functions arising from engagement:

en·gage: To occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons). To attract and hold fast.

If a widget is able to engage (attract and hold a viewer's attention) - it is capable of being viral (being socially spread throughout the web). And if a widget becomes viral, reach and traffic follow. The trouble with starting in the reverse order is that widgets can get tons of traffic (pageviews and uniques) without being spread or growing... but you need to understand user engagement and the widget's viral-ity to understand it's traffic. Here's how you measure those three components:

1. Reach The most basic measurement of any campaign is its reach - and widgets don’t differ significantly than a tradition online campaign:

- Widget Impressions: the number of loads a widget has received - Unique Users: how many viewers a widget amasses - Demographics: the geography of a widget’s viewers and demographics of the sites the widget sits on

2. Viral-ity Unlike traditional online ads, widgets enable rapid reach because they are customizable and sharable. Understanding the social patters on a widget is important to determining a campaign’s growth and the path with which it was viewed and shared. Subscribers are critical because they grab the widget and embed it on real estate that they deem relevant and worthy… introducing the widget to that website’s traffic and effectively kick-starting a virtuous, viral circle: - Subscriptions: number of installed widgets - Active Subscriptions: number of installs that generate viewership - Subscribers: which domains have installed your widget and the traffic each has delivered - Viral Pathing: which subscribers and installations are most effective at delivering new subscriptions

3. Engagement Widget impressions are meaningful, but an engaged viewer is far more valuable than someone who overlooks the widget as though it were merely a banner unit. A core element of understanding a widget’s efficacy is understanding its users’ interactions. The most critical aspect is determining whether widget views lead to widget sharing and/or destination traffic (such as your corporate website):

- Get Widget Interaction: How many users open the “Get Widget” menu - Widget Subscriptions: How many users open the men and actually grab the widget - In-Widget Promotions: Widgetbox, for instance, allows publishers to run ads or promotions within their widgets. You can track unit impressions, mouse hovers and click throughs - In Widget Interaction: Understand whether users arriving at your website from the widget and how it’s impacting your site’s web traffic