SXSWi darling unveils "Featured Groups" for marketers in its initial monetization step.
The "digital couch potato" has become a target demo in recent years, as online marketers have aimed to engage TV viewers as they also interact with their laptops and smartphones. Enter South by Southwest Interactive darling GroupMe, which today announced TV marketers MTV and Oxygen Media as launch partners for its group-texting platform for brands called "Featured Groups."
Speaking with ClickZ, Jared Hecht, co-founder for GroupMe, said MTV plans on running a contest for its show, "America's Best Dance Crew," where groups of friends on the mobile platform will be entered into a contest. Each week, Hecht explained, a winning group will be announced and rewarded by having a cast member from the show join that group to discuss episodes.
"MTV will actually have the ability to send push notifications throughout the course of a week, whether they choose to send one a day or one every three days," he said. "Some of the notifications can be a link to photos; some of them can be a link to exclusive backstage footage from an episode."
GroupMe is wasting little time attempting to capitalize on the buzz the group-texting platform generated at SXSWi earlier this month. Rock band Bon Jovi and music/arts festivals Bonnaroo and Coachella are additional launch partners. During the band's tour later this year, Bon Jovi will give GroupMe users a chance to win backstage passes and upgraded seats.
When asked if "Featured Groups" were paid opportunities or free for brands, Hecht said he "couldn't discuss financial terms" of the deals.
Partners will appear as "suggested conversation topics" and are expected to, at times, leverage celebrities on the platform. For instance, it seems plausible that Bon Jovi star Jon Bon Jovi will at some point chime in to groups being organized on GroupMe for the band.
Shared viewing experiences - whether at live events such as rock concerts or at home watching on TV - appear to be at the heart of the New York-based company's product. Hecht described how GroupMe users typically interact with their friends while watching TV.
"These are people who are not necessarily watching the shows on the same couch, but they are talking to each other all of the time," he said. "They talk during the week, after an episode, before an episode. And they use GroupMe as a back channel to talk about the show…It's a really cool way for the brand to offer great and relevant messaging around the show that consumers actually want."
The co-founder wouldn't disclose GroupMe's user numbers but said his company was processing 2 million text messages per day. The GroupMe app can be used on both smartphones and regular cellphones. Hecht explained where his 10-month-old firm fits into the digital landscape.
"We have Twitter, which pushes me to the world. We have Facebook, which is me and my 500 friends. But what we didn't have was a platform that was more reminiscent of a real-life network - with people that I actually talk to on a daily basis," he said. "From day one, we knew there was a marketing and brand layer there. We had seen how brands have flocked to [other digital] broadcast platforms. They are all over Twitter, and they know what they are doing there. They are all over Facebook, and they know what they are doing there. But now we are giving them the opportunity to tap into real-life conversation among people who communicate with each other on a daily basis. And they share some type of commonality and like to participate in specific content together."
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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