TiVo, Amazon Put a Little ‘Buy Buy’ in the ‘Boop Boop’

The company that pioneered the concept of skipping past television commercials is now introducing a new kind of TV-based advertising. TiVo has joined forces with Amazon to create an interactive system that will let viewers buy products featured on TV shows — right from their remotes. TiVo Product Purchase will present options on the screen and give users the opportunity to order without interrupting the program.

Think of it this way: If you’re watching “Oprah” and her guest is an author, the book he wrote might pop up on-screen. You could then click a button on your remote to place an order through Amazon without having to stop the show. “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” and “The Colbert Report” are among the programs already on board.

New Twist on an Old Idea

The idea of interactive advertising on television isn’t new, though it has yet to see any mainstream success. The difference with this model and past creations, though, is the idea of being able to place a purchase without any content interruption — something that has not previously been achieved. That difference could prove to be quite significant.

“On the one hand, history says that the audience’s expectation of television-based messaging does not place interaction with advertising very highly — it just doesn’t,” Tom Collinger, associate dean and department chair of Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, told the E-Commerce Times.

“This presents a potential capability that is far less intrusive than what traditional direct response television, or infomercials, have required in the past — which is to say I’m moving off of the primary reason I’m here: to be entertained. If it’s as frictionless as one-click ordering on Amazon is, it has intuitively a much greater chance [of succeeding],” he explained.

The key, Collinger asserted, is that “frictionless” approach. Without it, the model won’t offer anything new.

“If the ability to acquire continues to need more explanation, demonstration and salesmanship, then we start to fall into the same framework that currently represents direct response television — just I’m using a remote control rather than my phone,” he noted.

Breaking Down the Wall

The shift represents an industry-wide attempt at trying to break down the wall, so to speak, and interact directly with television audiences in the same way those audiences interact with the Internet.

“The issue is to somehow constantly provide a level of engagement,” Neal Burns, professor and Center for Brand Research director at the University of Texas at Austin, told the E-Commerce Times. “I think what TiVo and Amazon have done is provide the kind of engagement that can lead to an interesting way of monetizing technology,” he said.

The Product Purchase technology, Burns believes, could bridge the gap between broadcasting and the more dynamic online world.

“Giving me the ability to deliver only those things in which I’m interested in is the promise of the Internet — and the difference between NBC and the kind of world that you and I really live in, function in and purchase in. We’ve learned to ignore all the other stuff,” he pointed out.

Technology Test

The true test will be seeing how far the TiVo-Amazon model can reach — and how much influence it could actually have on potential purchasers.

“I would say this technology is ideal for being able to buy what I already know I want,” Collinger theorized. “I don’t need to be sold it — I already know. When I’m watching an Oprah show and she’s talking about a book, they’re doing everything to sell me. All I have to do is decide I want to buy it — and if I can literally do so with one click, terrific,” he said.

In the end, it all comes down to adaptation and finding ways to bring modern concepts into existing technologies. Amazon and TiVo, Burns suspects, may have achieved that.

“The level of engagement that takes place now is so different and periodic,” Burns said. “I would expect that they’re going to be successful.”

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