A company called comScore has annunced the launch of Widget Metrix, a service to track the usage of widgets (data files that can be embedded into a site's HTML code and are typically displayed in a small viewing pane on the site). Widgets are used to display customized or personalized content on a web site or blog, for example to share photos or music recommendations, or links to Amazon recommendations, ads, badges and many others. You can get them free from all kinds of sources, not least Google and Yahoo! Facebook also recently announced that it was opening doors to third-party widget developers.
Widgets, however, do increase the time it takes the reader to download a blog or website. I have a reasonably fast broadband connection, but even so I find it can take minutes or even forever for a widget-laden blog to appear on my screen. But clearly, companies are realising that tracking widgets will lead to commercial opportunities, not least on the mushrooming social network sites Facebook, MySpace, Bebo et al., though comScore is apparently the only company tracking them as a business service. It will not be alone for much longer, probably.