PayPal partners with MySpace to deliver fundraising widgets for a handful of charities, non-profits and political candidates. The fundraising widget is pretty typical for what it is. There is an interesting drag and zoom interface for viewing supporters. However, once there is a more than a few supporters it’s no longer all that useful. We would have liked to see a more functional way to browse the list even if it’s not as cool. The partnership with MySpace comes along with unrestricted access from Flash. With allowscriptaccess and allownetworking, the PayPal widget has external links enabled from the widget.
While it’s not advertised, you can take the embed code provided and paste it anywhere. Once the widget is outside MySpace, it is actually aware of that and changes from “Add this to your Profile” to “Add this to your Page.” This allows PayPal and MySpace to customize the way users interact with the widget and copy the widget. The flow presented to users viewing the widget on myspace.com is different than that of users viewing the same widget embeded on another site.
PayPal gains users of their service as contributions and funds are provided via their service. The is definitely a smart play for PayPal and gives them access and exposure to MySpace users. They also benefit from the power of social recommendation and the good will of charitable giving. Let’s not forget that they left the back door open for the widget to go viral outside of MySpace.
As social networks continue to open up their platform and allow access to their social graph, it will be interesting to see how companies take advantage of this. Due to possible security concerns and other policies, it will mostly only be large legitimate companies who will gain the trust of the social networks and be allowed unrestricted Flash embeds. Imagine a widget that goes beyond the one we just described, a widget that is aware of its embed location, interacts and presents different features to users with specific information from the available social graph.
We will continue to see widgets evolve to be intelligent full featured applications.