- Comcast's NBCUniversal today unveiled ShoppableTV, which lets viewers purchase products while watching TV shows by pointing their smartphone camera at a screen during "on-air shoppable moments." NBC, NBC Sports, Telemundo, USA Network, Bravo, E! and CNBC Prime are among the company's brands that will participate in the plan over the coming months, according to an announcement shared with sister publication Mobile Marketer.
- Smartphone users who scan the televised QR code will be directed to a marketer's website to browse the item and make a purchase. The network tested the technology on NBC's "Today" show and reported tens of thousands of smartphone scans within minutes and sales reaching six figures, per the announcement.
- NBCUniversal aims to give brands a direct-to-consumer (DTC) retail channel that reaches millions of viewers, Josh Feldman, head of marketing and advertising creative, said in a statement. "With ShoppableTV, NBCUniversal is transcending the legacy business practices of television and driving business outcomes by creating an on-air real-time commerce experience," he said.
Direct-response TV ads, infomercials and shopping channels have been around for years, but NBCUniversal aims to differentiate its ShoppableTV with a more integrated approach to DTC sales through a smartphone. Because the shopping moments will appear in commercials and during shows on the network, brands have a chance to reach consumers with a call-to-action when they're most likely to be engaged with televised content and items featured.
Earlier this year, NBCUniversal tested a similar concept through a content-and-commerce website with Golf Channel to let brands reach target audiences and drive commerce. The entertainment company has experience in TV commerce, including its past investment in home-shopping company ValueVision. The companies rebranded ValueVision's channel as ShopNBC in 2001 under a licensing agreement that lasted for more than 10 years. ValueVision later rebranded the shopping channel as ShopHQ before changing its name to Evine.
The direct-response mechanism can give marketers a better idea of how well their ads are performing based on the number of scans and sales they receive, even if the response rates end up being a fraction of the total viewing audience. A 1% response rate is common for email, social media and paid search campaigns, while online display ads generate a 0.3% response rate on average, per the ANA/DMA 2018 Response Rate Report.
NBCUniversal's plans for shoppable moments come as Walmart considers testing shoppable content on Vudu, the streaming media company it acquired in 2010. The content will not only show ads, but also will give viewers a chance to buy products seen in the shows, like paper towels or soft drinks, Bloomberg reported. Faced with a growing threat from Amazon, which streams shows to subscribers of its Amazon Prime program, Walmart plans to invest in the development of at least a half-dozen original shows in the next year. The direct investment will aims to give the company greater creative control to ensure that its programming is brand-safe and family-friendly.