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T-Commerce Might Lessen DVR Impact

28 Nov, 2012 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – The new deal between American Express and Fox Broadcasting that’s taking television commerce to another level is garnering opinions left and right.

As part of the deal, for example, viewers watching the comedy “New Girl” can purchase products such as a watch worn by a character or a salt-and-pepper set seen on a table via the “Fox Now” iPad app. AmEx is giving cardholders an opportunity to get a $35 credit if they use a card linked with a Facebook account to buy one of the “New Girl” items.

AmEx has a similar T-commerce program with NBCUniversal using the zeebox second-screen application, which involves Bravo’s “Life After Top Chef,” E!’s “Fashion Police” and Style’s “Tia & Tamera.” NBCU’s Daily Candy "curates the show-inspired products."

AmEx also has a yearlong interactive TV initiative going, where a viewer may be prompted during an ad to click through to a dedicated VOD-type hub with videos, games and offers. The AMEX Channel will be available in 50 million homes served by cable, satellite and telco TV providers and those with LG and Samsung smart TVs. Interactive TV facilitator BrightLine and American Express agency Mindshare have worked on development.

The way David Goetzl, a reporter with MediaPost, sees it, the potential for extensive television commerce has come at an opportune time for networks. He says that with the drop in inventory thanks to DVR-enabled ad skipping, T-commerce offers an opportunity to charge a premium for product placement.

“It’s one thing for a marketer to weave a brand into a show (presumably a DVR-proof tactic). It’s another if a viewer has an easy and inviting opportunity to purchase it instantly,” he writes. “Networks now have the chance to cut deals offering an advertiser that full package.”

Goetzl writes that there are many kinds of companion and social-TV viewing opportunities via iPads and smartphones sprouting up that offer a virtual store. “But the prospect of large-scale T-commerce might be less attributable to technological advances and more to a mass behavioral change: people watching TV with a mobile device in hand,” he adds.

For networks, Goetzl says T-commerce doesn't just offer the chance to charge a retailer for slotting a product in a drama that's really for purchase with some keystrokes in real-time, but to also bill a credit card company attached to the payment method. However, revenues from product placement and related T-commerce will likely never replace any dollars lost from commercial zapping, but this thing called E-commerce seemed to work out OK.

Doug Garnett, CEO of Atomic Direct, a DR agency in Portland, Ore. says the fundamental premise of the argument is flawed.

“Consumer impact of television ads has increased with the advent of the DVR,” said Garnett, a member of the Response Advisory Board. “But there are far too many careers being made by saying the opposite – so apparently the ad industry enjoys lying to itself in order to take away powerful advertising and give clients inadequate options as a result.”

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