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The Food Channel's Trends and Recipes widgets are part of a growing marketing trend. U.S. companies are expected to spend $40 million on Web widget development this year.
The Food Channel's Trends and Recipes widgets are part of a growing marketing trend. U.S. companies are expected to spend $40 million on Web widget development this year.

Noble's Food Channel launches Web widgets

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The Food Channel has some new additions to its marketing menu.

Web widgets - modules of content or advertising that can be added to Web sites and blogs - are the latest tool added to

The newly launched Trends widget provides food trend content, researched by Food channel staff, to the widget via RSS technology, said The Food Channel Editor-in-Chief Kay Logsdon.

While Web widgets "as a technology are becoming very pervasive for regular Web users, food widgets, I think, are pretty new," Logsdon added.

One part Noble; one part FohBoh

The Trends widget was initially developed for cross-promotion in a strategic partnership between The Food Channel LLC, an offshoot of Springfield advertising agency Noble Communications, and FohBoh, the San Francisco social networking site of restaurateurs, billed as the voice of the restaurant industry.

On Sept. 3, the two sites announced their agreement to share marketing, promotional and content ideas to connect the views of consumers and the food-service trade.

FohBoh - an acronym for "front of house, back of house" - specializes in providing a forum for restaurateurs, while The Food Channel specializes in trends and recipes. Each wanted some kind of representation on the other's site to cross promote, and voila, the Trends widget was born.

While FohBoh users can click on The Food Channel's widget for food trend headlines, a FohBoh widget on The Food Channel feeds out daily commentary and some of the best quotes from FohBoh blogs.

"By working together, we can consistently deliver the voice of both the food industry and the consumer," said Bob Noble, publisher and CEO of The Food Channel, in a press release announcing the strategic agreement.

"Part of the mission of the Food Channel is to help people wisely reduce the number of choices they have to make so that day-to-day living is more manageable," Noble added. "In a world where a search for 'chicken salad' gives you 2.7 million options, we all need as much help as we can get."

FohBoh CEO Michael Atkinson added, "This partnership strengthens the ability of both sites to bring new information to our users. It makes it easy to hear what both the consumer and the food industry want and to discover what they know," he said in the release.

The Food Channel's Trends widget is not exclusive to FohBoh but is free to anyone who wants to add it to their site, Logsdon said.

The information and Food Channel brand lend credibility to the host sites, while every click on the Trends information drives traffic to the Food Channel.

"It's all about traffic; it's all about numbers, and our goal is to make as many people aware of our site as possible," Logsdon added.

Build a better widget

Web widgets in general are getting a lot of attention from the marketing industry, with U.S. companies projected to spend $40 million on Web widget development in 2008, up from $15 million in 2007, according to

The Food Channel also is rolling out a Recipes widget, offering recipes tested in The Food Channel kitchens.

The Food Channel site, the brainchild of Noble Communications founder BobNoble, launched under its own limited liability company in January.

The interactive, consumer-focused site differs from many food sites in that it stands alone.

"So much of the Web market for food sites out there is based on either TV or magazine," Logsdon said. "The Web sites are the support for TV or magazine."

The Food Channel, on the other hand, is pure new media. "We're an interactive site that brings you the latest trends, news and recipes without the old media connection," she added.

Development of the Food Channel's Web widgets and other innovations is handled by in-house staff who also work on other projects, so Logsdon said she couldn't put a price tag on Web widget development. However, she noted that the work on the first widget has laid a foundation that will make future development faster and easier.

The next step for The Food Channel is video. Logsdon said that trials are under way for short videos, such as how-to clips.

"We're balancing that," she said. "We're trying to figure out how much of this are we publishing, how much of this are wecreating? But without a doubt, we do see the future in direct Internet TV. You'll see more of that on The Food Channel in months to come."

In the meantime, while it is too early to measure the impact of its Web widgets on Food Channel traffic, the site has grown steadily in the last nine months.

Logsdon cautions that there has been no formal launch of the site, which is in Beta release, and parts of it are still being developed. The Food Channel is getting 120,000 to 130,000 unique visitors and more than half a million page views per month.

"We'd like to be 10 times that. And we will (be)," Logsdon said.[[In-content Ad]]


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