A Faster Way to Buy Stuff
7/22/2008 4:00 PM
When I lived down South in the early 1990s I learned that instead of
saying that you were driving a friend to the store, you would carry
them there. You also said cut out the lights, mash a button, and
"fixin'" to do something, but I digress. I bring all of this up,
because a new deal between TiVo and Amazon may mean less carrying to
the store to buy stuff and more mashing of buttons on your TV
remote control, instead.
Mainstream America has never lacked options when it comes to buying
consumer goods. More than 100 years ago there was the Sears and Roebuck
catalog that enabled anyone in a remote part of the country to order just
about any household good they wanted. More recently, any number of
catalogs, websites, and even cable TV channels have made buying almost
anything as simple as picking up the phone or clicking the mouse a few
times, and entering a credit card number. The new deal between
time-shifting digital video recording pro, TiVo Inc., and e-tailer
pioneer Amazon, goes a step further.
TiVo and Amazon hope to provide consumers with the ability to purchase
physical products from Amazon.com on their TV sets, using their TiVo
remote control. With this new Product Purchase feature, television
advertisers will have the unique ability to market products sold
through Amazon.com on any broadcast or cable network, any TV show, or
via any of TiVos extensive interactive advertising features.
Imagine watching Oprah discuss her book club choice with that books
author or Jon Stewart discussing a new release on his show. Instead of
jotting down a note to buy that book at some point in the future or
even moving over to your PC to go online, you can instead use your TiVo
remote without missing a second of TV, whether youre watching a live
or recorded program.
The idea, according to TiVos director of broadband services, Evan
Young, is to provide television advertisers and consumer products
companies an alternative to the traditional linear shopping channels
that require live viewing for product merchandising and fulfillment.
If their product is seen or advertised on any TV show or network, and
sold by Amazon.com it can be merchandised to viewers through TiVo,
Young stated in a press release.
According to the announcement, consumers will also be able to use
TiVos Universal Swivel Search to explore and buy products associated
with their favorite shows, movies, actors, and directors. Upon
selecting a product users will have the option to complete the purchase
immediately or add it to their Amazon.com shopping cart for later
checkout. Shipping and tax, if applicable, will be automatically
calculated and presented to the user before final confirmation, and
purchases will be secured with a PIN associated with the users
Amazon.com account. In addition, television advertisers will be able to
merchandise specific products through TiVo advertising features such as
Interactive Tags, Gold Star Sponsorships, and Program Placement.
Ill admit that idea makes, sense in an age when time-shifting has
reduced the effectiveness of traditional television advertising and
product placement on TV shows and in movies has become ripe for satire.
The only issue that remains is the relatively small market share
enjoyed by TiVo. According to a New York Times article on the
announcement, TiVo is only in around four million plus homes. From a
national advertising perspective, this doesnt amount to much.
The future will likely involve TiVo building software that it can
license to much larger media companies. Thats when an early-majority
guy like me will start mashing buttons on my remote to buy stuff.