Widget Statistics Revival 2.0

Nov 6, 2008

Our (my) intention was to produce these reports and blog posts on a semi-frequent basis. It turns out that working in a startup means that your priorities shift quickly. This report sadly became a victim of these shifts, and hasn’t had the attention it deserves. So I am making a concerted effort to publish these more frequently than once every 9 months.

I took some time this go around to clean up our widget classification quality and relevance. As business models change, and web products morph, it can be difficult to accurately classify every service with a widget. If you have have any feedback regarding the way I classify a widget, let me know in the comments. I would also be interested to hear if there are specific widget verticals that we aren’t reporting on that you would like to see.


Overall Popularity

Below are the top 50 widget providers by domain, ordered by the percentage of blogs which contain at least one widget from the provider. Google is the obvious leader here. The top 20 hasn’t changed much in the last 9 months, which shows Google’s strength in the ad and analytics space.

Popularity by Vertical


Below are the rankings of widgets within some of the top verticals. Note that each pie graph represents the percentage widget distribution among all widget objects from the vertical. Different this time around is our inclusion of comments widgets. We previously showed trackbacks here, but I felt that comments and commenting widgets are more relevant in the blog market and have a higher install penetration than they did 9 months ago.

Analytics

Advertising

Comments

Search

Woohoo – Check out Lijit !!!! To be fair, we are number one in the graph now due to the reclassification of the snap.com widget. We previously considered them a search widget, but their primary tool does website previews and doesn’t relate to the search vertical in my opinion.

Video

Our survey is primarily focused on widgets that are permanent fixtures on a blog, not those that are embedded in posts. Our crawler makes a note of widgets found in front-page posts, and these are primarily video widgets.Here is a graph of relative popularity of video widgets in blog posts. You’ll notice there are a lot more video providers in the list. It’s good to see some of the smaller guys grabbing some of the market share.

Methodology

Our definition of “widget” is

any regularly-occurring functionality on a blog powered by an external service, voluntarily installed by the blog owner, and powered by Flash or Javascript.

  • “Functionality” includes analytics widgets. These add functionality for the blogger but are invisible to visitors.
  • “Regularly occurring” excludes widgets embedded in posts, such as YouTube and Dailymotion videos. (We do collect statistics on these, however. The final chart of this post shows the results.) Widgets that occur on all posts, such as the “Digg This” widget, are included.
  • “Voluntarily” excludes widgets automatically added by the blog hosting platform. We are only interested in widgets that bloggers make an effort to install.
  • Image-based badges, such as FeedBurner subscriber counts, are not counted. HTML forms, such as the original Google search boxes, are also not counted.

Our crawl is “centered” on blogs with our Lijit widget. Our crawler then expands outwards by following blogrolls. This will give a bias to the overall results.

UPDATE:
Number of blogs examined: 184,431
Blogs with widget of any sort: 146,636
Total number of widget installations found:1,222,155
Survey period: 9/26/2007 – 11/06/2008

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  • While Andy points out some areas these numbers could be improved I like the graphical representations as an easy fast way to see who's winning the widget wars.

    Thanks for at-a-glance resource.

    ALexander

  • Tony: Thanks for the feedback on the pie charts. I agree that they don't represent the data in the best possible way. I am open to any suggestions on better methods of visualizing that data.

    Andy:
    Thanks for the incredibly thorough analysis.
    You are correct that the network effect does add a bias to the numbers. We try to be up front about this and indicate that the stats are based on a subset of sites/blogs we have crawled(which also explains the Blogher Ads number).
    We focus this report on flash, and javascript widgets because we feel that their existence on a site is a sign of publisher intent to install. We do our best to indicate which widgets are native to a publishing platform(the platform category),and separate these out where we can.

    Feel free to contact us if you have any other questions at info at lijit dot com.

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  • I suppose the numbers all come down to the definition of what a blog and a search widget are...
    Forcing the definition to only include javascript and flash makes it extremely biased, because the standard Google search box, with branding outside the text area, doesn't use javascript.
    Thus an extremely high percentage of Google search boxes are ruled out of the equation.
    I believe Technorati's search is also just plain HTML.

    Blogger, Myspace and a number of other platforms have Google search by default.

    I believe Wordpress.com allows the use of a Google search now, though they default to a database query.

    On some of the stats you need to identify whether the inclusion of the code is a choice by the blog owner.

    Analytics? You will get Google Analytics on every Blogger and Wordpress.com blog, because it is used by the blog host.

    You might also have some extreme bias in blog selection. An obvious example is on the advertising.

    Blogherads themselves claim only 2200 blogs in their network, yet somehow they have a 4% market share.

    The quantcast stats seem extreme, again must be a decision by the host for their own purposes.

    I happen to know the real numbers for Blogcatalog, because I work with them on a few things.
    It is nice to see them supposedly having more "widgets" than Google has "search widgets (coop)" but I know in my gut that Google search is on countless millions of sites, not just blogs, and Blogcatalog's penetation is significantly less.

    From what I understand your stats are based upon blogrolls, possibly the blogrolls of the people who have installed Lijit, plus one additional degree of seperation?

    That would explain the high Blogher numbers, and Blogrolling numbers, because Blgher members typically have long blogrolls of other members, and it would only take a few to use Lijit to have a significant impact.

    Network effects have nasty effects on stats, especially when your pool of data is only 0.1% of the total (at a guess)

    As they say, "lies, damn lies, and statistics" - interesting stats, but without detailed analysis of what they actually represent, I don't think stats are actually useful...

    What you are currently showing is probably about as accurate as Alexa data is currently - I currently don't have a lot of faith in Alexa.

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  • Hey guys- Love the stats, though pie charts are a decidedly awful way to display this data.

    Anti-piechart rant here: http://blog.rescuetime.com/200...

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  • Fantastic report guys - it's a pleasure working with you and growing this ecosystem together.

    I've reposted some of the stats here http://blog.js-kit.com/?p=15

  • Thanks for the great feedback and clarification Jay. The classification side of this data hasn't had a facelift in a while, so your feedback is invaluable.

    The next report iteration will definitely account for your suggestions. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Daniel,

    We are very happy to keep seeing Snap Shots ranked as one of the 10 most popular web widget overall. It is true that Snap Shots is not a "Search" widget. Snap Shots serve users even better than a search engine. They bring the content to the user in the right place and time, and eliminate the need to switch focus to a parallel search process.

    My suggestion to you - start a new category called "Semantic Widgets" and track the popularity of services like Snap Shots, Yahoo Shortcuts, AdaptiveBlue SmartLinks, Apture, Lingospot, Zemanta, and the others I have forgotten. You might also want to include blog ranking services who also highlight related content such as Outbrain & Spotback.

    I would also like to correct you and say that Snap Shots provide more than previews. There are 13 types of Snap Shots and not just previews, including RSS, Wikipedia, Video, Audio, Photo, Product, Map, Stock, Movie, Profile, WorldOfWarcraft, and the latest one we released - the CrunchBase Shot.

    Keep on the good work. Your widgets statistics are great!

    ---
    Jay Meydad
    Vice President, Products & Operations
    Snap.com

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