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SeenOn to Rain on Like.com’s Parade?

November 16, 2006

Like.com got a ton, just a ton, of attention last week when it debuted its new site that allows you to find products like those you may have seen in photos of celebrities or other people in magazines, news photos, etc. (See Like.com CEO Munjal Shah’s blog for a sample of the coverage the site got from blogging’s A-List.) It’s a cool idea—see something that a star is wearing and find items that match it it, such as shoes similar to those that you just saw Kate Moss wearing, etc.

To prove that good ideas seem to bubble up at the same time, I saw a Fast Company blog post about SeenOn, which doesn’t show you products that are “like” those you’ve seen on TV, in movies, etc., but instead you get the actual products you did see. It launched today.

From Fast Company:

Through partnerships with ABC Entertainment, NBC Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, CBS Paramount Television, E!, and Martha Stewart Omnimedia, SeenOn connects consumers with products seen on TV.

For example, if one evening you see one of the ladies from Wisteria Lane wearing something you admire you can read about it on the site. From the SeenON blog:

If you caught last night’s episode of Desperate Housewives then surely you didn’t miss Gabrielle in her undies. The revealing set was from the “Fifi” line of notoriously sexy lingerie house, Agent Provocateur.

Designers and stylists from programs such as “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives” will provide SeenON with information about the wardrobes, housewares, and sets shown on their programs. Users can search for products by show, movie, actor, or product type. The site directs users to websites where they can purchase the products mentioned. In addition, the site will offer shop-able video content that the company is calling Shopisodes.

I have seen almost no coverage of SeenOn, probably because Like.com has more of the “Web 2.0” cachet and also because its founder has plenty of contacts in the blogosphere. In this case, it’s the outsider offering “like” products that gets the attention, while the insiders that can offer the real thing are largely ignored.

Is SeenOn a good or bad thing for Like.com? It’s hard to say. On the surface, SeenOn seems to have the advantage. It’s backed by the heavy hitters that actually make the shows that people want to buy the goods from. And it’s the real thing, not an approximation of what the actors are wearing on a TV episode or in a movie. If you are a viewer that just luuuuvs what you saw Eva Longoria wearing on Desperate Housewives, you are likely to go to this site and buy it up.

So, does this cook Like.com’s goose?

No, but it does make their job a bit harder.

I should start by saying that Like.com is offering something more sophisticated than SeenOn, even though it’s not guaranteeing that it can show you the exact product you might see Paris Hilton wearing. Because Like.com gives you the option to see similar products and then do some tweaking to find something that fits your needs a little better. So, if you dig a certain style of shoes you saw Halle Berry wearing but you know you’d never wear a heel that high, you can do a little adjusting on Like.com’s sliding scale and get shoes that keep the style but get rid of the things you don’t quite like, or maybe add something you do like. This is the promise at least; whether Like can deliver on this is in question.

If I understand correctly, Like.com is also planning to eventually let you give it a picture and it will use some kind of smart technology to figure out what products are similar to what’s in the picture. In that case, you could take some paparazzi shot of Jennifer Aniston and find some handbags close to that which she used to beat the photographer over the head with. (Right now Like is only offering its own pictures and letting you home in on the products it has pre-selected.) This will be very cool, provided again that Like.com can deliver on its promise.

The other part of the equation is whether having SeenOn on the scene will actually call more attention to Like.com. It’s often said that competition can actually raise the profile of all the competitors instead of hurting any of them. For example, in the future, journalists could easily write things like “with the proliferation of dress-like-the-stars sites like Seen On and Like.com, it’s becoming harder and harder for divas to stand out from the crowd.” See what’s going on there? It’s as if the competition created a trend, where if there’s only a single player it’s harder to say whether it really signifies anything and whether it’s worth writing about. So, from this perspective, Like.com could benefit from being lumped in with a site that has the backing of major entertainment heavyweights.

Or not. But it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world. 

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2 comments

  1. Adam,

    I tend to agree with you. Seenon will help Like.com and vis a versa but with one difference… I don’t think most people want to find the actual item the star was wearing since 99% of folks just don’t want to spend that much money for a handbag or a shoe. The stuff the stars wear on these shows is really expensive and usually given to them / the studio for free by luxury manufacturers.

    I think Like still has a long ways to go in terms of getting more accurate, but I think the interest we got last week was because it found similar items not the exact items and hence (due to most of the similar items being cheaper) brought the style of the stars down to earth for the rest of us.

    One other note – last week we were on 40 different TV shows around the country. However I only interviewed or pitched one. The rest liked the idea on their own and ran the story from our press-release / b-roll. It was their perception of the fact that millions of people would find like interesting not our promotion alone that drove this pr (at least for the TV folks).

    I love the last part of your analysis btw – you are dead on – it is rare that a new category is created and only one company is there. If there is no one else don’t it there probably isn’t money in it…;-)

    Munjal Shah
    CEO Riya (like.com)


  2. Munjal,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I actually was going to make the point you do about SeenOn offering the exact clothing which would undoubtedly be horribly expensive, except that when I visited the site much of it was not horribly expensive. A lot of it was stuff from mainstream retailers versus being $1000 shoes and such. That’s not to say your point isn’t valid—SeenOn may be forcing itself to show fewer items because so many of the items are extremely expensive and they wouldn’t want to list too many of those or risk losing the customer that wants the look but at a reasonable price.

    Like.com is a great idea and I’m looking forward to see where you take it. Thanks again for stopping by.

    Adam



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