Widget platform Clearspring today announced the launch of a new ad network that will allow widget publishers to monetize their widgets with advertising. The ads will run inside widgets and come in a variety of formats. Clearspring has already inked deals with some of their largest widget publishers to run ads, including the NHL, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Films, Blockbuster, and Virgin Mobile.

For smaller widget creators or those whose widgets are strictly content-based, selling in widget advertising may be a good way to monetize widgets, especially if ads are kept unobtrusive. But many of Clearspring's largest widget publishers are using widgets as ads already. That is, widgets are mainly being used as marketing tools to promote a specific product or service (such as a movie). Will consumers really stand for advertising inside advertising?

The in widget advertising can be delivered via flash animated "peels" or "flips" (which essentially replace the widget's content with that of the ad after being triggered by a user action), or via video (pre-, mid-, or post-roll) or text. The flash animated ads aren't particularly intrusive, but all of the formats take up some widget real estate, which is at a premium given the limited size widget designers already have to work with.

In a separate, related announcement, Clearspring is hooking up with Pointroll, to offer widget distribution from within IAB standard ads. Though Pointroll is responsible for some of the most annoying ads on the web (i.e., the kind that automatically expand to cover or move content you're trying to read if you so much as slide you mouse over an ad), this announcement makes a lot of sense.

As previously mentioned, many advertisers are already using widgets are part of their marketing efforts, and allowing users to install widgets from within the other pieces of their advertising campaigns is a good idea. These "SnaggableAds," as Clearspring is calling them, put widget distribution on any page that accepts Pointroll's ad formats and lets advertisers have more control over their widget marketing campaigns. There are demos of "SnaggableAds" at this link.