How GoGoGab is aiming to change social TV interactions with celebrities and brands

By Natan Edelsburg 

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 4.06.16 PMThe social TV startup world is in flux. Many platforms have come and gone as Twitter, Facebook, reddit, Pinterest and Tumblr solidified their ownership over the social TV conversations. One area that’s still pretty social media primitive is the most popular way that celebrities interact with each other during television, an area that Twitter values as extremely important too. GoGoGab is a new platform, in beta, that helps you “chat with your favorite stars live.” You can sign up for their beta here. We interviewed CEO and Founder Richard Janes about how the platform fits into social TV.

GoGoGab has already created successful “Gabs” around  Pretty Little Liars and Army Wives and are now beginning to work brands into the mix. They’ve already won a Sammy Award for their work with Pretty Little Liars and are hoping to make a big impact on social TV in the coming year.

Lost Remote: How does the platform fit into the social TV ecosystem?
Richard Janes: We are 100% talent led and 100% platform agnostic so we encourage the conversation on the most relevant social channels versus creating a walled garden around content which most of our competitors do. Other social TV offerings are focused on viewers chatting with each other (instead of the celebrity) and via program related ‘experiences’. For us, the closest thing to our offering is DVD commentary — except with higher value content and real-time access to the stars. The curtain is pulled back. The conversation can expand beyond the show. GoGoGab makes TV live again.

LR: How can TV networks and brands use the platform?
Janes: We don’t officially partner with the TV networks, but they naturally get a huge benefit from the work that we are doing. Having said that, forward-thinking networks like ABC Family have embraced us and, in many cases, integrated lower third messaging on the TV show letting the viewers know that the cast members we are working with are chatting online. This only goes to increase the participation in the ‘gabs’ which drives more social media impressions around the show which drives tune-in. A win for everyone.

With brands, that’s where it gets exciting. For years, brands have been trying to make their TV advertising more effective. Most recently, Twitter Amplify (a product that compliments GoGoGab very well) has done a great job at helping TV advertisers increase the effectiveness of their traditional spend by promoting branded tweets to second screen audiences. We go one step further by enabling brands to sponsor entire online conversations around shows — this is deep, customized, organic content from the stars themselves, which is worth so much more than advertisements from brand handles. Now the brand isn’t limited to a 30 second spot but can have prime placement, for the duration of the broadcast, around the online chatter. The recall rate for the brand is massive.

LR: What TV networks have you worked with and how?
Janes: Again, the key with what we do is that the TV networks are not our clients but we both get residual benefits from each other. We will always reach out to the networks’ social teams to discuss what we are doing; for instance letting them know the narrative the actor will be using for the duration of the broadcast, and to see if there is anything from their side that they would like the actor to embrace or tease. Some networks respond better than others and, in truth, I think the main reason for this is a lack of manpower on networks’ social teams. By and large they all have great, intelligent social leads, but they just don’t have enough hours in the day to cover all their programming with Class A second screen experiences. But to answer your question, GoGoGab has produced events around shows on many major networks already, from ABC and Fox to cable networks like ABC Family, Bravo, Lifetime, and MTV.