Probably not the correct medical analogy here, but if you want to stop the viral spread of a widget here is a how to do it.
One of our readers tipped us off to a widget for D.C. United (US soccer team). At initial look it was a nicely designed widget. There was a video player showing game highlights (we would have preferred that it was not auto play) and a scrolling news feed. Additional buttons and menu items take you to various other options and web properties like the merchandise shop or the ticketing office. Overall it was something worth getting and we tried.
Here is where the widget went south. Clicking the “copy me” button launched a new window with a registration page. The requested information consisted of a TOS agreement, email, destination URL and site description. All we wanted was to grab the widget to show off and promote U.S. soccer (MLS) and D.C. United. Why do I need to read and agree to a TOS? Why do I need to disclose where this is going or provide an email address?
Entering fake information produced valid embed code, but that would obviously be against the TOS so we entered our real info. Reading into the TOS, it seems like there is some sort of affiliate system available or network that the information could be used for. However, preliminary search didn’t reveal much information.
We understand that there are other factors at play here. Maybe it’s marketing, legal or branding. Or, maybe it’s for the affiliate program. But, whatever it is, it seems like it could have been streamlined and done differently. For example, if a fan of the team wants the widget, just let them copy it. If they want to join an affiliate program or network, then make them register. If it weren’t for the fact that we evaluate and blog about widgets, we wouldn’t have actually registered and grabbed the widget.
Of course, we wanted to see if this really meant anything. After all, it seems like a widget that would be popular. Digging around and following the powered by info lead us to Real Time Matrix and their iJ.am Vortex widget. Apparently, they introduced the Vortex widget at the July 27, 2007 TechCrunch Party and even have a TechCrunch widget on their company homepage. The TechCrunch widget is slightly different than the D.C. United widget, indicating that the iJ.am Vortex widget is a flexible system. Trying to copy the TechCrunch widget resulted in the same registration form.
One would think that the widget features and the content provided would help spread the widgets and make them popular. That’s just not the case. We haven’t heard or come across much regarding the 2 specific widgets nor the iJ.am Vortex widget. Quick searches revealed little more. Our opinion is that the registration page and process is a major problem. Obviously marketing is a complex system and we are not saying the registration page is the only issue, but it definitely does not help the viral spread of the widget.
Other non iJ.am Vortex widgets on the Real Time Matrix site do allow copies without the registration process. So, there seems to be more to this and the registration process was intentionally included for a reason. If anyone has info, feel free to drop us a note.
To see the widget, go to the D.C. United Vortex widget page or Real Time Matrix homepage for the TechCrunch version.