Gigya Widget Ads to Challenge Google, Clearspring

Startup launches a network devoted to widget-based advertising, the emerging mode to serve ads on social networks.

Gigya Jan. 14 launched a widget distribution network to help advertisers deliver ads to social network users, joining a fray first joined by Google and Clearspring.

With the Gigya Widget Advertising & Distribution Network, the startup is making the same bet Google wagered with its Gadget Ads, and the same leap of faith Clearspring made with its Widget Ad Network in 2007-that bringing social site users interactive ads is a smart, noninvasive way to market products and services.

Showing the ads in widgets, mini-applications that pop up on Web sites, is an alternative to showing them as banner ads, which tend to get ignored on social network sites. Advertisers believe using widgets to market their products will get more people to view and interact with the advertisement.

Ben Pashman, vice president of sales and business development at Gigya, said that while Google's widgets are designed to run ads on its own content network and Clearspring drops the ads into the widgets and hopes they get clicked on, the widgets Gigya distributes are the ads.

So why corral a whole ad network to do this? Pashman said that though advertisers can create a widget to promote their products and services, there are no reliable options for managing it and making sure that it's installed by its targets throughout the course of a campaign.

Click here to read more about Clearspring's online widget system.

Gigya's widget ad network is designed to remedy that situation, providing a dependable platform through which advertisers can funnel their ads to social media consumers.

Pashman said Gigya's service is attractive because the company charges only when someone actively chooses a branded widget by installing it on their profile page, blog or desktop. At that point, the network works like any other ad network, with Gigya and the content publisher getting cuts of the click-throughs.

JupiterResearch analyst Barry Parr told eWEEK Jan. 11 that Gigya's widget network addresses a problem in the industry, which is that many companies are building widgets but have no way to get them into users' hands. Today, most users get widgets from their friends.