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Team USA Olympics Widget Strategy with AddThis

February 4th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Team USA has been promoting their athletes and the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with a couple of widgets. With the games just 8 days away, we thought we should take a closer look at the widgets.

The widgets themselves are pretty straight forward. The 2 widgets are essentially the same widget in 2 sizes. Both widgets are 300 pixels wide with one being a standard IAB 300×250 pixels. In each widget you get video and athlete content along side a twitter feed. The twitter feed is a nice touch as it gives the widget fresh content more quickly and engages the visitors in the conversation.

As standard practice, you can share this widget and this is where the widget gets interesting for us. Now that Clearspring has announce the end of their Launchpad platform in favor of the AddThis product, a few key items have surfaced as a result of the transition to the AddThis sharing platform.

Built-in gadget, app and embed sharing are now gone as they are not currently supported by AddThis. Google gadgets has been replaced with Google Bookmarks, apps were replaced with stream/feed posts and embeds are now up to the widget coders to support on their own. These changes are not necessarily bad, but they were nice features within Launchpad (not to mention a slew of other features but we’ll save that for another post).

So far so good, even with the loss of the Google Gadgets and Facebook/MySpace Apps.

However, we believe there’s one big flaw in the way the AddThis is utilized within this widget. This is not a flaw in the AddThis platform, it is a integration issue. If you take a closer look at the sharing links, you will notice that the widget is passing the following links and sending users to them.



This makes sense as these pages display the widgets for visitors to view and grab if they like. But, it greatly under values the widget.

There really should be a page on the main teamusa.org site which hosts these widget pages. By doing that and sharing those pages, you will drive traffic to the main site rather than a stub page. You gain 2 benefits here.

  1. Driving traffic to teamusa.org is significantly more valuable than teamusawidget.org. Teamusa.org is the site you want everyone to link to and talk about.
  2. Teamusawidget.org is relatively a dead-end.
    • Yes, if the content in the widget is interesting, users may click through to the main site.
    • However, if the page is on the main site, you give the user access to everything on the site through header navigation, footer navigation and supporting content on page. If the widget interests them, they can grab it or click through. If the widget is not not interesting, you have now also given them a vast amount of content and navigation to go explore, increasing the likelihood of user engagement

The URL value is already being set and passed to AddThis within the widget code. Changing that value is trivial. The work would be in building out the widget page on the main Team USA site, which we imagine is also a simple task.

Lastly, since they are already controlling the embed code being used, they should consider adding a HTML link in the embed code. That way they can add SEO value to widgets being embedded on other sites. Some people may remove it, but given the subject matter and cut/paste there will be enough people who leave the code as-is to be of value to the linked site.

  1. February 5th, 2010 at 08:12 | #1

    Hi, it’s Justin from Clearspring. Thanks so much for your support and use of AddThis sharing platform.

    Just wanted to clarify… with widget support within AddThis, we still very much support sharing to iGoogle. (http://addthis.com/help/embedded-content#destinations) For whatever reason, this publisher decided to use Google Bookmarks instead.

    A little background on Facebook apps… the over arching trend throughout social networks has been to really focus on the news feeds. That’s where people are looking to see what’s going on in the life of their collective network versus going to people’s profiles. Thus, the news feed is what performs best in terms of getting content shared and re-shared the most.

    For any developers that are going through the widget development process and looking to integrate AddThis, we’ve put together some example implementations and posted the corresponding code. Hopefully, this will make the development process easier for everyone. – http://addthis.com/help/flash-examples

    We also have a tech support forum dedicated to this topic.

    If anyone has any thoughts, questions or concerns, drop a note on the forum. We have an amazing support team. Also, feel free to e-mail me personally – justin@clearspring.com.

  2. February 5th, 2010 at 09:28 | #2

    Hi Justin,

    Thanks for the clarification in regard to Flash support by the various destinations and AddThis. That definitely looks interesting.

    As with new feed posts, we fully agree that in those environments the feeds are the best place for engagement and spread.

    We had no part in the development of this widget, so we do not know what thought process went into it. Unfortunately, the widget is not Flash and therefor could not take advantage of the items you pointed out.

    Regardless of whether it is iFrame or Flash, the biggest miss we saw (which has nothing to do with AddThis) is the dead-end site that they were driving users to.

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