The Couch Potato’s Dream Come True

29 01 2012

They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. I’ll counter that irony is a dessert best served with chocolate syrup.

Who would have thought that it could pay to be a TV-surfing couch potato? But thanks to the new Viggle app, it’s now possible for the laziest among us to be king among the slackers.

Viggle is the brain child of former American Idol exec Robert Sillerman. The idea is that viewers should be rewarded for watching what they like to watch. And to that end, Viggle rewards viewers with points, and for every 7500 points earned, they receive a $5 gift card from among several partner retailers, restaurants and coffee shops.

Of course, if your inner bum expects to get rich off this scheme, think again. You only get 2 points for each minute watched, which, after some math gymnastics, means you’re getting paid a whopping 8 cents an hour to sit on your duff.

Here’s how it works: If you already have Shazam (music) or IntoNow (TV) on your phone, you are already familiar with the listening and matching technology. After initializing your Viggle account (inputing ZIP Code and TV provider), all you have to do is tap when you’re watching…and then tap each time you change channels.

Remote control-hogging males may have a problem here. This is beginning to sound a little bit like work.

The market researcher in me, though, is fascinated at what this portends. So, like a good marketer, I quickly downloaded this app and took it for a test drive.

New users get 1500 points just for signing up. More points can be earned for watching featured shows, for recruiting new users, for posting to your social media page, and for watching partner video ads. The app is also littered with other static display ads, which shows these guys have thought long and hard about their rev model.

So I flipped over to Phineas & Ferb, a kids show with enough double entendres to keep parents happy. Someone I know got me hooked on this show. But Viggle choked right out of the gate, thinking I was watching The Chuggingtons instead. They owe me 2 cents.

But then I flipped over to The Weather Channel, and it not only correctly identified the station, but also the segment (Weekend Now). Bingo! All I have to do remember to tap my app every time I watch TV, and I will drowning in free SBUX lattes.

Coming on the heels of Google and Facebook’s recent announcements of data merging and more finely targeted ads (if you don’t believe me, just head to YouTube while leaving your Gmail open…you will be amazed), Viggle is a marketing researcher’s fantasy. Sure, we have long been willing participants in other people’s research (count how many loyalty cards you have in your purse or wallet). And many among us have been more than happy to help television researcher A.C. Nielsen by filling out viewing log books for a couple of bucks. But Viggle completely raises the bar.

No one can complain about companies and their knowledge of us, for we so happily share everything we do. We post our comings and goings to Facebook. We tell Safeway, Albertson’s and Kroger about our family and its grocery preferences. And now, for a few pennies, we give broadcasters a seat in our living room.

OK, I’ll say it. We have become information whores.

At the same time, I have two words to say to Sillerman: Sheer genius! By bribing people with lattes and cheap gift cards in exchange for their viewing information, he has scored a coup. This information is priceless to marketers, and we have become assembly line workers in the sweatshop of data mining.

I sincerely doubt I will use this app more than a few times (my marketing curiosity is piqued, so I must chase this rabbit for a few minutes at least). I would like to think that I am worth a little more than 8 cents an hour on the sofa.

Dr “Changing Channels Now…” Gerlich

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