Two of the leading social TV apps, GetGlue and Viggle, are now one after a surprise merger announced yesterday. Viggle Inc. acquired its fellow social TV check-in and loyalty app with $25 million in cash, plus 48.3 in million shares, according to TechCrunch. For now, both apps will retain their names and brand identities.
The announcement marks the marriage of two social TV titans – GetGlue, which has previously focused on sharing and discovery, and Viggle, known for its audio recognition technology and ability to extend the rewards experience beyond just programming. Together, GetGlue and Viggle now boast 5 million users.
The merger is a clear power-move for both brands, which stand to benefit from the combined technologies and talent of each platform. This is good news for marketers, who now may be able to consolidate their social TV efforts and potentially reach a more diverse and robust network of users.
What the merger could mean for marketers
Marketers will (hopefully) be able to buy into two apps and two user bases with a single campaign. For now, there are no plans to consolidate one app into the other, but with this merger the data and sponsor opportunities might someday allow for brands to create custom campaigns to go across several apps rewarding specific behavior on an individual basis.
Data analysis from a larger user base will help develop best practices. With a more robust and diverse user base, the platforms will be able to highlight what’s working and what’s not, allowing the community to drive the evolution of the platform. This will also allow brands to create experiences that are more clearly in line with consumer behavior.
Mobile-friendly builds and an increased focus on community are critical to success. We expect both platforms to build out their mobile experiences for users. In addition, we foresee a growing emphasis on community builds, engagement and rewards. With user behavior being a key indicator on future check-ins, creating stronger communities is essential to continued growth.
Rewards will be delivered in real-time. While both apps currently reward user behavior, neither can do so instantly, like Foursquare, for example. With a more robust collection of check-ins available on GetGlue and the real-time check-in availability of Viggle, we wouldn’t be surprised to see fans rewarded more immediately in the future.
It’s much too early to assess the total impact of the merger on the platforms, but both GetGlue and Viggle say they look forward to new developments in 2013. If history is any indicator, the first large build would most likely launch in time for the winter award season and the Super Bowl, which were record-setting social TV events in 2012.
The brands before the merger
GetGlue, launched in 2007, is the most popular social TV app with 3.2 million users. The platform is best known for rewarding its user base with stickers for their social check-ins.
Over the past four years, GetGlue has released several updates and enhancements, including awards for vocal power-users (“Guru” titles), creating fully functioning communities within the network and providing marketers the opportunity to host sweepstakes.
GetGlue’s most recent update provides a customized guide for users, using past data to fuel the discovery of new entertainment properties and events. The result is ultimately a socially-powered TV guide, which presents even more opportunities for marketers – specifically within the entertainment vertical – to promote real-time viewing and offer rewards for loyalty.
Viggle launched in 2010 with a focus on driving mobile social TV actions and rewarding fans for real-time viewing. Its mission took on a growing challenge faced by entertainment marketers – time-shifted viewing.
Using audio recognition technology, Viggle allows users to check in to live programming and earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards or donations to charities (e.g. the Red Cross, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy).
Last year, Viggle launched real-time games, trivia and programs that kept users engaged with the app throughout the duration of the programming, allowing them to earn points at every step along the way. Super Bowl XLVI was a huge event for Viggle, during which it merged on-air commercial content, live-action during the game, half time show entertainment and branded sponsorships during a single viewing experience.
As a user of Viggle and GetGlue, both personally and professionally, I am looking forward to seeing the developments as they come and a more robust social TV app to utilize for brands in 2013. What do you think this merger means for other social TV apps and where do you see these two headed?