A really exciting concept I‘m hoping has legs is the notion of hosted applications on publisher websites. A couple different examples today are HeyZap and PostUp, two products that help add interactivity and incremental revenue streams to publisher pages through gaming and social features, respectively.
In the case of HeyZap, the company allows visitors of a publisher site to link to their Facebook games via Facebook Connect and play them directly on a publisher’s website, bypassing Facebook.com and thereby extending the reach of their games across the web (big plus for app developers!).
HeyZap and PostUp are just two early examples of what could be a much larger business opportunity: creating hosted environments where a widget can be dedicated to anything the publisher sees fit.
If the website is a gaming or gaming news site, it is possible the publisher can allow games to be played through the widget. If the site happens to be music-oriented, it’s possible the interactive real estate could enable a tool that allows readers to view local concerts and purchase tickets directly through the small widget. Or navigate and purchase / gift related songs via an iTunes Store widget. One could get very creative on what functionality sits within the widget!
What’s very ‘open’ about this idea is the ability for any developer to create a widget. Consider just 3 possible scenarios:
- Publisher creates and features their own App (which is hosted by a 3rd party service like an App Store)
- Publisher selects the 3rd-party Apps they will allow to be featured on their site (similar to picking Apps from an App Store). They can drive new revenue and ensure content is ‘brand-safe’ for their site
- Website visitors select the set of Apps they are most interested in interacting with (and perhaps the most likely to drive revenue for publishers)
There are a variety of possible business models associated, including: revenue-shares, CPM, subscription, and virtual exchanges.
Some reasons I believe this model has legs across the entire value chain:
- Publishers help distribute content via widgets, creating for Consumers a very connected web experience across multiple sites.
- Developers [both independent and affiliated] have another distribution environment (beyond their own URL’s and mobile Apps)
- Publishers benefit by unlocking a new revenue stream on their site, one which they have a tremendous amount of latitude to control.
- For the Service hosting the widget or application environment, they get a cut of the revenue generated for delivering the technology layer that enables App development and distribution, as well as transaction or exchange functionality.
I’m really excited about this market and believe there’s a tremendous volume of innovation this industry could herald in.