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Searching Through Widget Content

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Widgets are a very convenient way to share your favorite photos these days. Just upload your media and integrate them on your social pages, blogs or sites. Nearly 21% of the worldwide Internet audience has used them (per ComScore). Of course, the widget suppliers are quite pleased with this explosive growth.

Most of these embedded flash widgets are injected onto MySpace and now Facebook pages. But what happens when you want to actual search them? Not much.

  • Within shows: All the tagging functionality seems to be lost in translation. If you did tag items, then they won't be part of the widgets.
  • Among shows: Particular slide shows or sets of photos can be titled or labeled. If you want to find a relevant show, then that functionality isn't available.

While widget traffic booms, it's time to consider more appropriate searching mechanisms. Tagging could be ported over, although it's a temporary fix since only dedicated users spend time tagging their media. We could wait for industry progress related to image searching, yet that's not ready for prime time. Also the other video and music sharing widgets aren't addressed.

Social destinations might provide the searching horsepower instead. Based on what people are sharing, their activities might “power” searching within or among shows. This could be explicit, based on what is actively shared or consumed among friends. Or it could be implicit, based on collaborate filtering tools that connect interests too.

As part of this widget news, the WSJ reported (subscription only) that widget suppliers are effectively creating new ad inventory. Today the suppliers are not permitted to insert ads on MySpace, and are also restricted on Facebook. So these and other social sites are sitting on this growing ad opportunity -- especially if they target their members' interests through or contiguous to these widgets.

Which brings us back, full circle, to why searching through widget content matters.


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