releases widgets: a lesson in the value of content and brand, the real estate site run by Scripps Networks (of HGTV and Food Network fame) has just released a very nice set of widgets that enable publishers – Realtors, for example – to embed Frontdoor/HGTV content within their websites or blogs [disclosure: 1000WATT Consulting has provided services for in the past.]

Frontdoor has stayed largely under the radar within the real estate industry. And they seem to be fine with that. After all, when you can promote your website to 90 million households through HGTV on a regular basis, getting love from people like me is really not that exciting.

They’ve slowly but consistently improved the site over the past 18 months. First city guides. Then a rather prescient implementation of Facebook Connect. And, now, a distributed content play.

A content and brand lesson

Widgets as a distribution channel are nothing new. Trulia and Zillow both came out with their own property and market data widgets years ago.

Frontdoor’s announcement is really notable for two reasons:

First, the content delivered through the widgets is unique and compelling. It’s more than listings. More than median price charts. It’s a slice of the sometimes instructive, sometimes fatuous, but always well-done content HGTV has used to gather the attention of millions of American consumers.

Second, each widget is strongly marked by the HGTV brand. Normally, slipping your brand onto a widget is a little dicey. People love to add free stuff to their website, but don’t like to give too much credit to the source.

But if you’re HGTV, people want your brand on their website.

My point: the relationship between content and brand is symbiotic. Content can help you build a brand and that brand, in turn, can help drive distribution of content. This is critically important in an age when, as John Battelle argues, “all brands are publishers.”

Content is King; “curation” is absurd.

One of the big debates going on right now about the future of the web is between content and “curation.”

There are those who think the investment in, and creation of, quality content – whether that be data, text, video or other media – is still a viable strategy.

Others think crafting quality content is the quaint practice of journalists, artists and others who labor under the delusion that people care about the integrity of their work and the institutions in which they create it. What’s really important is “curation” – a pretentious word that basically means “organizing stuff on the web.” Did you know you can “Curate” tweets? Or that a whole category of apps is being developed that will enable you to preside as the “curator” of things like Gowalla check-ins?

I guess you can tell where I come down on this. One could “curate” the empty beer cans in a frat house; I could “curate” my toenail clippings. But what of it? The content’s the thing.

Real estate content revisited

So, back to real estate: what Frontdoor is doing amid this debate is to continue to bet that quality content matters. They’re way ahead of most, and certainly you and I don’t have the brand mojo of HGTV. But I would encourage you to think beyond the tweets, the Likes and the charts just about everyone else has and ponder what your own brand of compelling content might be.

There are plenty of examples in real estate:

The Corcoran Report” helped build a brand and the brand, once built, drove the further distribution of the content.

The great real estate writer Bob Bruss meticulously crafted real estate newsletters for over thirty years. It built his brand. And his brand got him in over 200 newspapers.

And while it pales in comparison, content has been central to the development of our brand here at 1000WATT (Speaking of which, if you haven’t done so already, you really should sign up for Spotlight, our new email newsletter.)

It’s got to be good. It takes a lot of work. And quality doesn’t magically attract an audience. But content – and those who create it – will always be Kings.