With the launch of OpenSocial, Google officially began an era of widgets, which was something quite unique to Facebook till recently. Widgets or applications can now be created by users/developers and are available on a platform that allows developers to port their applications more easily from one social network to another.
With sites like Orkut, Friendster, hi5, LinkedIn, Ning, Salesforce.com, Engage.com, Hyves, Bebo, imeem, Oracle, Plaxo, Six Apart, Tianji, Viadeo, XING and even MySpace coming under Google’s OpenSocial API umbrella, developers have never had it so good. Most applications are usually designed to have some connection with the brand itself. Already, brands like XBox, Red Bull, Trip Advisor and The New York Times have their applications on Facebook.
Indian companies have been quick to latch on to the potential in this space. Inspired by foreign software vendor firms like Flixter, iLike, RockYou and Slide (all these develop applications for Facebook and now for Google too), a lot of Indian companies are also looking at the segment. Already brands like Zapak and nautanki.tv have created a presence on Facebook.
Zapak has developed a multiplayer widget for Facebook, which allows two users to connect and play using their social network. This will soon be extended to Orkut and Bigadda.com too. Nautanki.tv’s facebook application goes a step ahead with a monetisation plan (once the application reaches a critical mass). The application will allow users to earn points and rewards for watching the content on the nautanki.tv feeds via their Facebook.com profile pages.
OgilvyOne, Quasar Media (now acquired by WPP), WebChutney and Games2win are some of the companies in India that are actively looking at this segment to put Indian brands on them. “Widgets are the flavour of the season,” exclaims Rahul Nanda, COO, WebChutney. Nanda has every reason to feel exuberant. “These are freely available but specialised services and one can get away with outrageous prices.
The platform itself is a fad that might last another year or two but, as long as it is there, it makes sense for advertisers to be around too,” he explains. The company is working with clients from the ticketing, telecom and travel space to create their applications on the Google platform.
Prasanth Mohanachandran, Executive Director, Digital Services, OgilvyOne Worldwide, expects FMCG and financial services companies to go for such experimental marketing since their splurge on the internet is higher than that of the others. OgilvyOne expects to roll out widgets for clients in the confectionery, food and technology areas by the first quarter of next year. The company has also rolled out ‘Widgets on mobile’ in Singapore for clients such as Diageo (where the application is Johnnie Walker Digital PA) and Amex.
The India roll-out of the mobile applications is expected early next year and they will work on any phone that supports flashlight (an application that enables you to download games/applications). Games2win has taken a slightly different route. In what Alok Kejriwal, CEO, Games2Win, calls a ‘pull approach’, the company wants to launch the widgets on its own and once it gets some traction, sell it off to the highest bidder. “We want to get brands excited about the proprietary widgets because of the visibility and usability that we generate for them.”