ITV acquired Friends Reunited in 2005 for £120m. In an embarrassing turn of fortune, the broadcaster has just arranged a quick sale of the social network with Scottish publisher DC Thompson to free itself from the loss-making brand.
Friends Reunited was a strong player in social media four years ago, rated the eighth most visited website in the UK. But the social network has been unable to compete with rising social media stars Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. According to Hitwise, Friends Reunited has now dropped to 14th on a list of the UK’s favourite social networks.
Last year, ITV made a final attempt to salvage Friends Reunited’s fortunes. The corporation dropped the subscription charge to try and draw new users to the service, putting Friends Reunited on an advertising revenue model. ITV also spent £8m on a new Friends Reunited advertising campaign to stimulate interest in the site but the move proved unsuccessful. Much to ITV’s chagrin, rivals Facebook and Myspace continued to grow apace despite no marketing.
Interestingly, Brand Republic reports that the new owner, DC Thompson, is scrapping Friends Reunited as a social networking site. It will instead rebrand the site as a genealogy portal to compliment DC Thompson’s existing genealogy business portfolio, including findmypast.com.
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