Selling Thru the TV: Tivo and Amazon vs. “Bookmarking”

Selling stuff directly through the TV to the consumer is apparently the grand dream of advertisers and probably the worst nightmare for consumers. Time shifting and the ability to skip commercials is the primary reason I have and use Tivo. I understand Tivo’s desire to make themselves appealing to potential advertising customers, but I have to ask whether Tivo has changed who their target customer is — it is consumers or is it advertisers? For now, it looks as though they are shifting to advertisers in order to get their software into more houses. In the end, though, will consumers be pleased or annoyed?

I see both positive and negative sides to selling directly from TV. Certainly, it’s a pain in the butt to have to remember or write down the specifics of a product you want to further investigate after seeing it on TV. It would be nice to “bookmark” the interesting sections of a show so you could go back and catch the name or use the bookmark as a point of launch to more information on the product via the Internet. As it is now, whenever an advertiser wants to push more information at you via Tivo, an annoying blinking icon pops up on the left-top corner of the TV prompting users to push a button on their remotes to a gain access to more information. I’ve never used this feature, because nothing interesting has ever come up. It sounds like the Amazon deal will build on this functionality and when interest is expressed, the user will be redirected to purchase while the Tivo continues recording (Never mind that you were watching TV). I really don’t feel “pushing” to me or anyone else works these days. Nowadays, people “pull” — hence why people buy Tivos so they can skip the ads and watch their content anytime they want.

So let’s further explore the idea of pulling. What if there was a bookmarking feature available? Perhaps along with the video, audio, and subtitle feeds there could be a tag feed with second-to-second data such as:

  • The products that are currently on the screen
  • Info about the clothing the stars are wearing — perhaps even links to the items in an online store
  • The beauty products the stars are using
  • The music playing in the background — links to purchase a download of the music or to explore the artist more
  • Destination information about the setting of the show — for instance if the show is a Chicago crime show, then when some potion is bookmarked, the user could look into Chicago as a vacation destination.
  • If a commercial is playing, links to the product’s promotional site + info on all the stuff surrounding the commercial like music, clothing, the setting, even production credits for the commercial

All of this information would be available and the person only has to put their dipper into the stream when they want a sip. How would the customer receive their bookmarks?

  • RSS feed
  • E-mail
  • Personal portal either on the web or a viewing device like a DVR, entertaiment PC, or gaming console
  • Beamed to a mobile device

Anyhow, here’s a link to the NYTimes article about the Tivo and Amazon partnership. (You may need to register in order to access the article.)

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