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Webmasters Use Widgets Turn Dead Space Into Web Traffic

Aug 28, 2008
Widgets are giving webmasters a simple way to generate revenue from the dead space on their web pages. By adding a small piece of code on each page the webmaster not only brings relevant targeted ads to site visitors but also generate revenue or additional traffic depending on the network providing the widget. The technology is simple and the options are growing every day.

Power in Simplicity
One of the reasons widgets have become so popular is because of their simplicity. Ron Popeil, one of the greatest television pitch men of all time, sold millions of chicken rotisserie machines on late night TV with five simple words, Set-It-And-Forget-It! Widgets work on the exact same principle. The webmaster puts a little snippet of code on the web page and the ads, games, pictures, or music is piped to the computer screen. It literally opens a little window into the web page that someone from the outside can control. The webmaster drops in the widget and the content is rotated in.

How much is that Doggy in the Window?
Have you ever wondered how the bundle of ads on the right side of your screen is always of at least general interest to you? When you are using Google it puts ads there that are related to your most recent search. That makes sense because the mad scientists at Google control which ads are sent and know the search words you just used. Because Google knows who is looking into that little window on the web page they know exactly what kind of puppy to put behind it to get you to buy. It is the ultimate in targeted marketing.

Monetizing the Window
Advertisers are all about getting their products in front of people who will buy them, and if website visitors meet that criteria they have real value. Google is willing to pay the webmaster a penny or two every time an ad in the window is clicked. It is called monetizing your web traffic. That is the good news. The bad news is that unless you have about a gazillion visitors to your website you are never going to make much money. Not only that, but if the webmaster wants to use Google Ads to drive traffic to his or her website the cost for each visitor can be very high.

Real World Examples
If a person has a website that sells e-books they can sign up with Google to place small ads for them on relevant websites. When someone clicks on one of those ad they are directed to the e-book website and a click fee is deducted from the webmasters account. At the time of this writing the keyword e-book marketing had a cost-per-click from Google of $3.06. If the keyword used was debt consolidation the cost would be $20.59 per click. Even something as obscure as wicker baskets carries a cost-per-click of $1.55. In these cases the odds seem to be stacked against the independent website owner in both directions. The space on their website is not worth much and driving traffic there is expensive.

Traffic is King
For the webmaster there is nothing more valuable than traffic. Whether you are selling chicken cooking machines or trying to get your poetry noticed you need traffic to be successful. Technology has made putting together a website pretty simple. However, driving consistent traffic to a website is much more complicated. Pay-per-click companies like Google, Yahoo, and others use an auction system for keywords because companies with deep pockets are willing to pay top dollar for traffic. Again, this system does not favor the small webmaster trying to promote his or her website.

The Entrepreneurs Step In
The key to successful entrepreneurship is identifying and filling needs, often with very simple solutions. The answer to the small webmasters dilemma was not only simple but had been around since medieval times. Cut the robber baron out of the middle and form a cooperative system where participants can support each other in realizing their goal, in this case, driving traffic to their websites. Several new firms are now doing just that by setting up cooperative type systems that serve the small webmaster and blog owner.

Building a Widget
Although there are some subtle differences between the firms that offer this type of system most include the following steps.
* Join the network (generally both free and pay options are available)
* Identify the ad categories they think would be most successful on their site
* Choose a style and size of widget or ad block that best fits their site
* Create text ads that will go in widgets on other sites
* Put the simple code generated by the system on their web pages

How the Systems Work
Just like Google AdWords these systems send targeted ads into the widgets but there is no pay-per-click system. Instead, every time a widget is viewed on the webmasters site a credit is earned to have one of the webmaster's ads shown on another site in the network. This is a self-perpetuating system because views generate credits which generate traffic which generates more views, more credits, and on and on. In addition, most systems have links on their widgets so webmasters receive recognition for referring other members to the network which is rewarded with even more advertising credits. Through what is called The Multiplier Effect, the focus on traffic will ultimately be of much greater value to the small webmaster than selling the space on their web pages.
About the Author
Peter Francis is a marketing consultant, an author, and one of the founding members of The Widgeteers advertising network. Visit The Widgeteers at http://www.thewidgeteers.com to watch a video about how belonging to a widget based advertising network can exponentially increase the traffic to your website.
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