Yahoo’s March Madness widget could have tied in to the social experience

Our agency is full of sports fanatics. Every year, we draft our March Madness brackets, post them on a communal wall and try to practice sportsmanship. As the victor last year, I had a reputation to uphold. To make sure I knew exactly where I stood, I downloaded a desktop widget that keeps track of each game.

Complete with hardwood floor décor, Yahoo Sport’s Courtside widget did almost everything I wanted it to. It posted the current scores and winners of each game. Broken down into the appro­priate divisions, this widget provided users access to every active matchup and the functionality to see the scores of ear­lier games. Design features showed five or six games at one time, which broke up the information into reasonably digest­ible chunks. The interface was designed to allow users to easily switch between conferences and view upcoming games. There also was an option to add teams to a “watch list” so fans would not miss any of their favorite teams.

Some downfalls of this widget are that it could not isolate live games and had no tie-ins to brackets. Ideally, I would love to see a widget that combines a group’s bracket scores and the live scores of the tournament. This way I would be able to tell exactly when my bracket pulls away from the rest of the pack. Sporting events — especially March Madness — have mas­sive social applications. Because there are so many games played simultaneously or back to back, Yahoo would have been wise to add in functionality that included a social aspect and emphasized the timeli­ness of the tournament. This would help facilitate interaction among us working folk who cannot devote time to watching entire games during work hours, but would still like to be a part of the conver­sation. This could be accomplished by incorporating a message board or chat feature that allows members of a bracket competition to interact.

Outside of this critique, I think this widget is an excellent example of how marketers can develop applications that satisfy users’ wants. By giving users a reason to download your widget, or any other marketing vehicle, marketers can reap the benefits of an effective branding campaign and connect with users in a meaningful manner.

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