Are Widgets the Future of E-tail?

    September 20, 2007

All of a sudden, widgets are getting very hot. I discussed Lemonade Stand last week, which is essentially a widget that attempts to combine affiliate marketing with Web 2.0.

This week, Amazon launched a set of widgets that attempt to do the same thing. They allow affiliates to display Amazon products in a colorful, more appealing way.

I have a gut feeling that widgets will eventually be very useful for e-tailers, but we have a ways to go to get there. I just don’t believe that these Amazon widgets are going to help affiliates. In fact, I predict that clickthrough rates on them will be worse than text ads and probably identical to the clickthrough rates on graphics ads. I think that site visitors are simply going to ignore them just as they do banner ads.

Desktop widgets may end up being more effective than website widgets. It is undeniable that if you can entice your customers to download your widget to their computer, you have an advantage that most internet retailers will never have. Ebay is experimenting in this area, and I can see why customers would want Ebay widgets on their desktop. However, I am not sure how niche retailers will be able to compete for valuable and limited desktop space.