Lessons From the Acquisition of GetGlue by iTV

Sometimes when I've posted entries in the past I've made reference to the idea that I'll want to check back in on a topic at some point in the future, but it is easy to lose track. However, Social TV is a topic that remains of interest because it seems representative of how relevant that brands and commercial activity can be in the social media experience of consumers, so it is one I have kept up on. In April 2012 I posted (Will AdAge Get Bored Before GetGlue Achieves Scale?) wondering if AdAge's weekly social TV check-in chart would be sustainable, noting that they had stopped tracking social check-ins by location because there was no scale, and suggesting I could foresee the same result for the social TV check-in feature. May 2012 I followed up with some skepticism that social TV was doing anything to impact television ratings (Coming Un-"Glued"?). And then in August 2012 I again considered the scale of social TV and suggested it was a topic revisiting six months down the road. Well, it only took 15 months, but here we are..

Yesterday I saw a couple of articles written by the AdAge Media Guy talking about the acquisition of GetGlue by I.TV (i.TV Is Buying GetGlue; Here's What That Means for Social TV), and they provided some perspective on what has happened with social TV. GetGlue had raised $24MM in venture capital funding, and at the time of acquisition had approximately 4.5MM registered users, and 1.2MM active monthly users. Hardly catching fire, and calculating out to an acquisition cost of over $5 per registered user, and $20 per active user. Ouch. While the Media Guy was a big fan of social TV and GetGlue had attracted funding from a prominent group of investors, I feel validated that my skepticism was warranted. A couple of quotes from the Media Guy stood out:

"...the challenge that GetGlue, and all consumer-facing second-screen apps, face: how to gain scale."

"...what started as a niche phenomenon remained a niche phenomenon."

"...those inclined to be highly active in the social-TV space are a relatively small group."

There are some lessons here for brands as they continue to wade deeper into the social media space:

- Set expectations appropriately for which segments of your consumers will be willing to interact with you through social media, and the relative size of those segments, and invest accordingly

- Even regarding activities that involve a passion or high level of involvement, most people are going to be passive observers through digital channels; gaining scale will be difficult, and more difficult to sustain

- Trying to insert a commercial message or drive a desired behavior will continue to be a challenge without offering high perceived benefits

Posted by jkeenan on 11/08