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Measuring The Widget Economy

This atomization of Web pages, the new distributed Web, complicates the process of measuring and monetizing. And that's where comScore aims to help.

The Web is coming apart and comScore intends to track the fallout.

The Internet metrics firm on Wednesday launched comScore Widget Metrix, a service to track widget use across Web sites.

"The recent explosion of user-generated content has helped create a worldwide marketplace for widgets," said Linda Boland Abraham, EVP at comScore, in a statement. "comScore is excited to be providing measurement for this developing content medium."

Widgets, known as Gadgets in the parlance of Microsoft and Google, are small software programs that can be added to Web pages. Widely employed to decorate and enhance MySpace and Facebook profiles, they're similar to Apple's Dashboard widgets or Yahoo widgets except that Web widgets require a Web page to function.

Widgets have proliferated as social networking sites and personalized portals like iGoogle and Netvibes have become more popular. Internet users have embraced the ability to create individualized Web pages out of modules of content, calling into question the old model of pages published by a single source. A Web page today may very well consist of content piped in from a dozen or more widgets.

This atomization of Web pages, the new distributed Web, complicates the process of measuring and monetizing. And that's where comScore aims to help.

In April, Slide, the maker of popular slide show and guest book widgets, was the top widget provider, with some 117 million unique viewers, according to comScore. That comes to about 13.8 percent of the worldwide Internet audience. To put that into context, BBC sites counted just over 46 million unique viewers from around the world that month.

No wonder Slide CEO Max Levchin said he was glad to have comScore validate "the enormous reach of the widget economy."

That reach is likely to increase if and when comScore expands its definition of widget, which currently includes only embedded Flash (.swf) objects.

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