The first desktop wallpaper, as used on the Xe...
The first desktop wallpaper, as used on the Xerox Star in 1975. -Image via Wikipedia

Community toolbars have been around for years helping online publishers build engagement with their fans and online community. The power of this tool has helped build Conduit, the leader in this space, into what some say is a billion dollar company. Engagement is a powerful tool.

For many years more, desktop wallpapers were the path to customization and personalization for the personal computer – from family photos to wonderful waterfalls – we’ve either seen or tried them. They are easy to install and change. There is no way to interact with the wallpaper, they exist simply for the visual enhancement they offer. The only real downside? Wallpapers spend the majority of time covered by the applications running on the computer. You get to enjoy that beautiful graphic when you start up and shut down your computer – hello and goodbye.

So, what’s it like to take two great ideas and merge them into one. It’s like asking the question, can you get two great tastes to taste great together?

Your Web Site on a Custom Community Toolbar

Conduit Platform gives all web publishers, regardless of size, the ability to create and publish a branded, customized Community Toolbar. Anything you can put on a website can also be deployed on a Community Toolbar including: applications, content, gadgets, feeds, social media tools, personal account data, games, services, links, and more.

With over 230 million publishers taking advantage of the Conduit platform, there’s no shortage of people that see the value of extending their web presence to the platform with the most Internet engagement – the Internet browser. There’s great upside to putting your content in the browser and creating a persistent presence whenever a user is online.

While toolbars are still core to their offering, Conduit has extended their approach of simplifying the build process of technical marketing tools and branching into the very hot category of mobile and browser apps.


Your Favorite Image on Your Computer

Your computer monitor is an elaborate picture frame. Picking the image is probably the hardest part of deciding how to customize your computer desktop. On my computer, I can literally right click on any image and “Set as Desktop Background.” It can be a bit overwhelming if you think about it. Every image you encounter is an option for you.

That’s where sites like Desktop Nexus come in. Between the site and their very active communities, they curate the visual selection for you. Landing on the web site gives you an immediate view into “Recently Popular Wallpapers – By Member Votes” so you can grasp what people like. They also offer Galleries, tags, sorting, creators and just about any other navigation method you may prefer. Really well done. And they’re well on their way to meeting their goal of the household brand-name to answer the endless demand for computer wallpapers.

Desktop Nexus provides a medium for members to share their desktop creations with the world. For designers, it’s a great showcase for their work and opportunity build their following. You’ll even find some designers using a site like this to cross-promote their work on other services. Like this 2012 Seasons wallpaper with links to browser theme options.

Toolbar + Wallpaper = Browser Theme

Whether you’re looking for the latest Chrome browser theme from Kelly Clarkson, the Firefox theme for BCS National Champion contender Alabama Crimson Tide, or an Internet Explorer theme featuring a favorite coupon and deals site like Presto Savings – Brand Thunder has been the place for online marketers to turn. What each one of these offers is a combination of community toolbar and desktop wallpaper.

While a browser theme can’t match the visual real estate of the desktop wallpaper, it is assured exposure whenever consumers are online – often hours a day. So no matter how many hours someone is spending on Facebook, they can be spending every minute of it in an experience you designed.

As for toolbars, there’s little in terms of functionality advantages that one product has over the other. Community toolbars and interactive browser themes each have the highly desired presence when someone is online, and enjoy the benefit of a persistent communication channel to the end user – and hence the ability to engage those users.

Following the lead Conduit established for its toolbars, Brand Thunder launched BT:Engage and put the power of creating interactive browser themes into the hands of any online publisher. Now any web site, online community or individual can build their own custom browser theme by simply uploading any images they want into BT:Engage and then dragging and dropping them into the theme. It’s just as simple to add buttons and content feeds.

When you combine the two great ideas of community toolbars and desktop wallpapers – you get interactive browser themes, the Reese’s cup of the Internet.

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