About a week ago I had Brian Cohen from iFluence PR come in to talk about the “business previously known as PR” at one of the Free Lunch Friday’s I host at the RTV incubator. After the meeting I sent him a few of the blog posts I’d written about SetJam to see if he thought they were clear enough to be of value to other writers who were trying to cover the New TV space.
We talked about a lot of things, but the one thing that he did almost unconsciously was to immediately focus on SetJam’s relationship to Clicker. I wasn’t thrilled about this. In spite of having written a somewhat panicky post the day they launched, I prefer to think about my users rather than my competitors. Why should I define SetJam in relationship to another company?
The thing that Brian understood that I didn’t is that I didn’t really have a choice. Rarely do two companies with such similar objectives launch in a brand-new market at exactly the same time. He knew that anyone who was covering this space would need a clear way to explain how we were different. My first post on this set the David vs. Goliath story in motion, but that’s really about the difference between SetJam and Clicker the companies. What Brian was pushing me to define was difference between SetJam and Clicker the products.
I’ve come up with lot’s of ideas, but yesterday something happened that made defining the difference a lot easier–I invited 2,000 people in to check out SetJam. Wow… if you’re trying to understand how to describe your product, listen to your users! Many of the people who tried out SetJam had also tried Clicker. Much to my relief, many people wrote and told me that they liked SetJam much better–whew! There were others though, who seemed less convinced. I spent a lot of time with this second group, and in the process came to understand the real difference between SetJam and Clicker–SetJam is a tool, Clicker is a portal.
Once you understand this, everything else about our two sites makes perfect sense. Start with the users. The people who liked SetJam better were like me–they knew what they wanted to watch and just needed a tool that gave them the easiest, fastest way to watch it. The people who found SetJam lacking were coming with no real objective–they were looking for a place to hang out, a place to browse, a place to entertain them. It’s like the difference between the way my wife and I shop for clothes. I’ll go to a giant department store, spend 30 minutes, and have my entire fall wardrobe. She’ll spend the entire afternoon in SoHo and come back with a skirt.
Next look at design. The people who liked SetJam described it as “quick, clean, and SIMPLE”–just like a tool should be. The people who were looking to be entertained thought it was “plain and boring”. The clearest design indicator of the tool vs. destination difference is how we present shows. SetJam provides three simple links for each show based on the three business models around content (Free, Buy, or Subscribe). You click, and we send you to the site just like Google. Clicker tries to frame everything. They want you to feel like you’re watching it there. They want you to hang out.
Features followed the same division. One of the SetJam fans wrote, “You’re giving users what they want, not inundating them with useless features.” Yeah… exactly! Other people, however, complained that we were missing “browsing” and “categories”. I don’t have the time or desire to post comments to any site, but if you’re looking for a place to post your favorite quote from last week’s episode of “30 Rock”, Clicker’s the place to do it.
You can even see the tool vs. portal distinction in SetJam’s focus on premium content, like TV shows and Movies. Tools are about efficiency and we didn’t want to complicate SetJam with all the UGC garbage from YouTube. We spent our time filtering OUT that stuff and going deep into the premium content (SetJam currently has 10 times the number of movies and TV episodes Clicker has). Clicker went the “YouTube with a pretty face” route. They want you to be able to find anything video (the suggested searches on their homepage are terms like “Health Reform”, “Windows 7″, “Thanksgiving Recipes”, “Fort Hood”, and “Droid”).
I guess now that I understand the differences this way, I can’t really say which approach is better, but I’m really grateful to Brian for helping me define that difference. Not only does it help me explain SetJam better, but it helps me focus on what we’re great at. I like being a tool builder. I like obsessing about how to shave a quarter second off of our “Time-to-Watch” metric that defines how long it takes to actually watch your show. The simple, fast tools on the internet are what I value most, and I’m excited to build the best TV tool out there.
If you’d like to checkout our search engine for TV shows and movies, sign-up for our private preview at www.setjam.com. Although we started with search, we think it’s just the first step toward a new kind of TV that is personal, interactive, and social, and we need you to help us define the future of TV. Rest assured though–whatever we build, it will be “quick, clean, and simple”–and it will only have the stuff you tell us you NEED!