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A Faster Way to Buy Stuff

TiVo and Amazon hope to provide consumers with the ability to purchase physical products from on their TV sets, using their TiVo remote control.

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 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 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 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 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 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.