News’s TV experiment

May 5, 2015 12:29 PM

A fifth of U.S. households are expected this year to have at least one web-enabled TV that accesses the Internet at least once a month; by 2018, 31% of U.S. households will, eMarketer Inc. projects.

Some online retailers are experimenting to see whether they can entice consumers to interact with them through these Internet-connected TVs. Inc., No. 31 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, is layering interactive elements into its TV commercials, says John Paul Knab, the web-only e-retailer’s vice president of marketing.

While exclusively sells online, it has long considered TV an important marketing channel. It has run Overstock TV ads for more than a dozen years, featuring a range of celebrities and messages. “Our goal is to engage with our customers via all touch points,” Knab says. “Today, the average household spends five-plus hours a day watching TV. If we can make the viewing experience of our ads better for consumers, then we’ve won.”

Research makes it clear that consumers do shop online while watching TV, just not through their TV sets. 44% of tablet users say they shop online on their tablets while watching television, with 14% saying they will buy a product or service they see advertised on TV, according to media measurement firm Nielsen’s 2014 Digital Consumer Report. Meanwhile 24% of smartphone users say they shop online on their phones while watching TV, with 7% saying they will buy what they see advertised. first tested TV’s power to spur commerce in October 2014, with its “Overstocktober” sales campaign. The ad ran for four weeks and any time a viewer saw the ad on a TV with a live Internet connection, he saw a message to “shop’s deals now on TV or on mobile.” Using the TV remote, the viewer could press enter to launch Delivery Agent Inc.’s ShopTV app (if the app is available on the viewer’s TV or set-top box), or enter his phone number on the screen to receive a text message with a link directing him to Overstock’s mobile home page. Delivery Agent sells the TV commerce technology and services that made the interactivity possible. The vendor’s ShopTV app is available on some models of Samsung, Sony and LG web-enabled TVs and on Roku streaming media devices. would not release hard numbers on how the campaign performed, but Knab says gathered some useful data, and the e-retailer has since run three additional interactive TV ad campaigns. It is considering running more interactive ads in the second half of this year.

The data generated by the TV effort “allows us to optimize our buying and creative,” Knab says. “We can track consumer engagement rates by network, by state and by day part. Until now, these metrics were only available through digital ad campaigns.” Thanks to TV commerce, “our television impressions have become more valuable—our media is working harder for us,” Knab says.

Not every e-retailer is keen on TV commerce’s prospects. Read more about it in the article “A tepid reception for TV shopping” in the May 2015 issue of Internet Retailer magazine, out May 1. 




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