Targeted Advertisements (Without Spying)

Widgets vs ApparatusesPeople hate ads. And yet, marketing is part of life. If done correctly, people will love you. Apple is a perfect example. Steve Jobs and the gang made computers cool and sexy. Photics is selling widgets. Is there a thing further from cool and sexy? As the app updates progress, Widgets and Apparatuses are starting to look a lot better. It is actually getting cool and sexy. The new app icons are clean and pretty. The functionality is powerful. That means the next step is marketing.

When this project was first started, I was kinda winging it. The original plan was to write A Book About Hype. Seeing Apple straight-up murder the Dashboard was a shock. The signs were obviously there, but it was still a surprise to me. The Widgets app was started as a scramble to restore the missing functionality. It was a sudden change of direction for this website. Almost two years later, and after some pretty rough updates, there’s finally an opportunity to think more strategically.

One of the more glaring errors with the current progress is marketing. The app needs better promotion. There are some funny and smart ideas for commercials, but the app probably needs a little more work before an aggressive ad campaign can start. What about right now? What about today?! Is there something else that can be done? Realizing that marketing needs more attention, but also realizing that it is too soon to run expensive commercials, why not just promote the app here? doesn’t run third-party ads, but what about first-party? 🥳🎉

There’s room in the sidebar for promoting Photics apps and books. That used to be the norm. And while the web traffic is not as high as it used to be in the gaming days, this website still sees hundreds of thousands of visits a year. Imagine a dozen hockey arenas, filled to capacity, but there isn’t a single ad shown along the boards — no car insurance ads, no donut promos, no corporate sponsors.

That’s essentially what I was doing. Thousands of people would visit this website, get the information they were looking for, and then they would leave. That’s OK. I like that my friendly articles are helping people and I certainly don’t want this site to be riddled with spammy muck. Yet, promoting Photics apps and books seems appropriate. If someone is interested in this site, perhaps they would be interested in featured projects too?

A big issue in marketing is eliminating steps. Each time a potential customer has to click through webpage or fill out a form, that’s where they could be lost. That was the challenge with Widgets vs Apparatuses advertisements. If the website visitor is using a Mac, they should see the “Widgets” promo. If the website visitors is using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, they should see the “Apparatuses” promo. doesn’t track visitors. During normal visits, you shouldn’t even get a cookie. (LocalStorage is used to save game settings, but that data is not sent back to Fortunately, it’s not necessary to track a user to deliver the appropriate advertisement.

var p = navigator.platform.toLowerCase();
if (p.indexOf("mac") >= 0) {
document.getElementById("widgets-app-link").href = "";
document.getElementById("widgets-app-icon").src = "/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/widgets-icon.svg";

It’s a fairly simplistic technique. By using JavaScript, the “navigator.platform” value is detected. If that value contains “mac”, then the image and link are changed to “Widgets”. By default, the “Apparatuses” app is shown. This happens locally and without infringing on the visitor’s privacy.  This also eliminates a dreaded unnecessary step. The appropriate ad is shown on the appropriate platform.

This technique can be expanded even further, perhaps even with platform based animation and interactivity. I’ve been thinking about creating a free Hype template to better explain the idea. However, I’m not sure that I want to further reveal this idea to the world. It could be used to create some terribly annoying advertisements.

That’s why I’m pleased with this technique. The app advertisement was designed to be less annoying. Instead of having to explain the difference — that Widgets is for macOS and Apparatuses is for iOS — it’s handled automatically.