Friday Sep 14, 2012 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz
The growing popularity of content curation has led to a slew of mobile apps. Cambridge-based MediaFriends Inc. (which launched HeyWire, a free group messaging service, in 2010) gives content curation a new a twist with Bandwagon, a “digital watercooler” app that launched in iOS this week.
According to MediaFriends' CEO Meredith Flynn-Ripley, “we’re taking content curation but wrapping it with group messaging and putting in delivery notifications, going well beyond using typical APIs.” Bandwagon users create “wagons” around topics such as humor, sports, cooking, or technology (some bandwagons even get as specific as Rihanna or Romney 2012), adding streams such as Instagram hashtags, Facebook fan pages, or Twitter feeds. They can also set notifications and privately share that content with friends.
Flynn-Ripley says part of the appeal is in filtering and selectively sharing content. “I have a competitive tracking wagon that’s tracking different technologies I want to keep an eye on,” she adds. “I’ve invited the rest of the management team into that wagon. I also have a dog bandwagon that I’ve created that I share with a couple of my friends who love dogs.”
MediaFriends released Bandwagon’s Android app as BNDWGN in June, but the iPhone version includes a few new features. “Besides adding vowels to our brand name, you can now pause a particular bandwagon,” Flynn-Ripley says. “That is in addition to our already pretty interesting notification spinner, which lets you say ‘I want to receive alerts from content on this interval.’”
MediaFriends’ first app HeyWire is now profitable, serving over a billion ad impressions a month, according to Flynn-Ripley, who adds that “you can also pay to remove the advertising and do some in-app purchases like themes and ringtones.” Rather than monetizing Bandwagon through mobile ads, Flynn-Ripley plans to focus on big data, in-app sponsorships, and search advertising.
“We’re now enabling private conversations around brand content,” she explains. “It’s very hard for brands to understand how people are reacting to their content, so we’re providing brands with interesting statistics around which of their social media and marketing postings are generating the most conversation.” She adds that the company is in discussions with some major brands and hopes to announce partnerships later this fall.