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And that is what entertainment check-in network GetGlue did — by offering real and virtual incentives for consuming media online.
GetGlue, founded in 2009 by New York City entrepreneur Alex Iskold, has pioneered the media check-in space, piggybacking on the Foursquare phenomenon with more than one million users earning stickers and discounts as they watch, read and listen.
Sites like Foursquare and Gowalla have come a long way offering virtual “badges” to complement the social utility of knowing who’s doing what, but GetGlue one-ups them by also sending out freebies like limited edition stickers, DVDs and online discounts.
This is made possible by partnerships between GetGlue and major networks, publishers and studios, including HBO, MTV, ESPN, FOX, Sony and dozens of other partners.
Iskold explained: “If you’re a fan of the TV show Glee, earning an official reward from FOX is far more meaningful than earning a generic, unofficial reward. Rewards can be either digital status symbols that signify achievements (such as watching every episode of Glee this season) or a real-world special (such as a free set of the show’s season on DVD).”
It’s a good deal for GetGlue members, and in exchange the company gets a comprehensive set of data about their media consumption habits that it can sell to media companies and advertisers.
“Consider the current state of entertainment analytics: a tiny amount of sampled data impacts how 100′s of millions of dollars are spent by entertainment companies and brands. There’s a very real, very large opportunity here if you can provide meaningful insights at scale,” Iskold said.
Foursquare, which has amassed more than 10-million users since its launch in 2009, has begun to home in on offering recommendations, launching a feature called “Explore” earlier this year.
GetGlue is ahead of the curve, factoring in data about users’ likes and check-ins to suggest new shows, books and movies from the very beginning. Of course, no conversation about web check-ins is complete without mobile apps. The company’s all over it, with apps for iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry fueling more than four million check-ins per month.
So far, it’s fair to say that GetGlue is a home for die-hard fans, but those are precisely the evangelists that media companies love to bond with. That’s changing, however. Just as FOX added a “#Glee” hashtag to the screen in April to encourage the Twitter conversation, we’re likely to see GetGlue promotions popping up if the network continues at its current growth rate.
Iskold, who first founded GetGlue’s parent company AdaptiveBlue in 2007, has raised just over US$12-million in venture capital. As both a developer and technology analyst himself, Iskold has a reputation for forecasting industry trends and building applications to harness them.
GetGlue cleanly takes the best that Foursquare and Gowalla offer and shifts the focus from locations like bars, restaurants and stadiums to entertainment products like shows, books and movies. In other words, it expands the definition of checking in. We no longer actually have to be going somewhere, just engaging with something.
But for those who passionately love television, for example, watching the premiere of True Blood can be like going somewhere. So for the purposes of check-in services, it doesn’t matter if we are actually moving around, as long as we are paying attention.
The genius, though, is that the free stuff arriving at one’s doorstep helps simulate the perks of going to an event. The stickers or the free DVDs are like the souvenir t-shirt from last night’s rock concert.
And as GetGlue grows, it will cross the threshold from catering to folks who schedule their lives around media products to including those who just want to get a little something extra out of being couch potatoes for a while.