January 24, 2012
Watch ’n’ buy: The race is on to conquer TV commerce
The words “As seen on TV” are getting a second life thanks to the second screen. eBay, for one, is looking to forge deeper relationships with television networks in a bid to make the most of the fact that 86% of tablet and mobile phone owners use their gadgets while watching the tube. Currently, users of eBay’s iPad app can specify which channel they’re viewing to see relevant retail items—a hockey jersey for those watching a Blackhawks game, an Entourage box set for viewers of the HBO reruns.
While these offerings feel a little stale, the potential is more inspiring. eBay hopes to sync devices automatically with shows and to offer viewers a chance to buy wardrobe, set décor and other items featured in new broadcasts. The concept offers marketers unprecedented product placement opportunities, with multitasking viewers able to make impulse purchases based on beauty shots of sponsoring products. (But as always, ham-fisted attempts and invasive bugs are likely to provoke viewer ire, and a word from Liz Lemon.)
eBay is not the first to dream this dream. TiVo introduced a product purchase option in 2008, and HSN has offered a “purchase by remote” option since 2005. But the opportunities are expanding as more viewers divide their attention between the TV and their mobile gadgets. TV Wallet joined the gold rush late last year with a shopping widget for the History Channel; viewers can browse products via picture-in-picture technology, though the company is also aiming for mobile users. And Shopkick announced a deal with The CW Television Network in 2011. In one form or another, TV commerce looks set to come to a couch near you this year.
Image credit: tvwallet.com