A few weeks ago, in our 2014 roundup, we discussed some of our biggest platform enhancements from last year, like video reviews and the House Party mobile app.
If anything, 2015 looks to be a busier year than the last. We’ve got several major updates coming down the pike, one of which — House Party Hub — we shared details on last month.
But amid all the excitement of new products and important milestones, it’s nice to pause sometimes and look back at where we’ve come from. I did that this week, using the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to see what the very first iteration of House Party’s website looked like.
First, as a point of comparison, here is what the site looks like today:
And here’s the Internet Archive’s earliest record of houseparty.com, from November 25, 2005:
It may not look like much, but everyone has to start somewhere. (I won’t even try to defend that Photoshop job in the top banner, though.) You can click around and explore the rest of the site here.
In some ways, November 2005 feels like a lifetime ago. As they were preparing for what 2006 would bring, marketers were bracing for the “proliferation of the mobile internet” (although the first iPhone was still almost two years away) and wondering how RSS adoption might affect email marketing. (Google Reader had just launched that October.) Facebook had recently opened its doors to high school students — it would be another year before everyone could join — and the very first tweet wouldn’t be sent for four more months.
This view of the House Party site certainly highlights some real differences in our own company, too; the tagline, for instance — “A World Premiere In Your Own Home” — is a reminder that our early focus was on films and TV shows, before we broadened our scope to food, toys, books and anything else that people might enjoy trying and talking about.
And the site obviously lacks any hint of some of the features that would come to define the House Party experience: our mobile app, to connect with brands and other fans anywhere; links to our own social communities, which have blossomed to include over 1,000,000 members; and social-sharing tools that extend the fun to friends and followers. For these reasons, and more, a campaign today drives six times as many impressions as it would have only five years ago.
But in general, House Party’s core DNA has remained the same over the past 10 years. As you can see from that original homepage, the basic building blocks were there from the start: brand advocates could explore and sign up for campaigns that interested them; the best among them would be chosen as hosts; and they could then use the site’s tools to plan their parties, post photos and other UGC, and spread the word. The ways in which participants share their enthusiasm may have changed — in 2005, it was all about blogs and forums; “pinterest” and “instagram” were just nonsense words — but our fundamental belief in the power of consumer advocacy hasn’t wavered.
The good news, for marketers and consumers alike, is that this belief has been widely adopted and validated over the past decade. When we were starting out, the idea of actively harnessing and driving word of mouth was a bit of a novel one; today, brands big and small view earned media as a crucial pillar in their marketing plans.
And that’s why developments like House Party Hub and our mobile app are so important. As more people recognize what we’ve known all along, we’re committed to staying ahead of the pack and pushing forward the industry that we helped create. If you ask us, this party’s just getting started.