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Why are marketers not tying mobile commerce into TV campaigns?

December 31, 2012

Mobile has proved itself to be television’s new best friend for marketers. However, not many broadcasters and advertisers are incorporating commerce into their initiatives, which could be a missed opportunity for new forms of revenue.

According to experts, some marketers are just now nailing the basics of marrying television and mobile. In order to stay ahead of the curve though, broadcasters and advertisers will need to think outside the box in 2013 with initiatives that let consumers shop from their handsets.

“While these capabilities have been around for a few years, it’s really still the early days of television commerce,” said Sloane Kelley, interactive strategy director at BFG, Hilton Head, SC.

“There’s a bit of a Wild West scenario unfolding where technologies and payment systems are competing and aligning with different TV network,” she said. “For many marketers, the waters are still a little murky.”

Shop on mobile
Consumers undoubtedly multitask while watching TV nowadays.

In fact, a study earlier this year from GfK MRI iPanel found that 63 percent of tablet owners use their device while they watch TV.

Twenty-eight percent of dual-screen TV viewers in the study said that they used their tablet to look up additional information about a product advertised. Twelve percent of consumers bought an advertised product while watching TV (see story).

To capitalize on this opportunity, some networks such as NBCUniversal and Fox have recently tested mobile commerce to let consumers shop from their mobile devices while watching TV.

Fox recently teamed up with American Express on an initiative to let consumers shop related products from the network’s “New Girl” show (see story).

According to Ms. Sloane, TV is no longer a one-way push with content. As consumers interact and share content while watching TV, marketers need to think of ways to connect with consumers in real-time.

“Connecting commerce to TV will grow and become more mainstream in 2013,” Ms. Sloane said.

“Technology and payment platforms will continue to duke it out but there won’t be a clear winner in 2013,” she said.

“Most importantly, savvy broadcasters and brands will recognize that we’re living in an age of connectivity. It’s not about a passive ad or content. It’s not even about passive shopping anymore. It’s an age of interconnectedness. And it’s up to the consumer to choose where and how to participate.”

Mobile brand-building
Alex Iskold, founder/CEO of GetGlue, New York says that there are three different types of commerce that marketers are using with TV.

The first is letting consumers buy products related to a show’s advertising, which is the crux of what social TV is trying to accomplish.

Other marketers are using commerce to let users buy products that are inside a TV show. The third type of model promotes related products on the second screen. Per the executive, neither of these models makes sense, partly because of scale.

Scale is still a major problem in the second-screen industry. For instance, if only 50,000 people check-in to a show via a mobile app out of the ten million consumers that are watching, it diminishes the impact on sales for advertisers.

Instead, word of mouth plays a big role in getting users to tune-in, which can drive traditional ad impressions and ultimately presumed sales.

Commerce and TV is likely to be nascent in 2013, per Mr. Iskold. However, the recent announcement around Twitter and Nielsen teaming up on a new rating measurement could influence ad buys and the impact for commerce.

“In case consumers see a product they like, they will research it – transacting is another matter,” Mr. Iskold said.

“You are not going to buy a Ford on your mobile device, but you might buy Windex, so this is where optimizing and targeting ads and contextualizing them is important,” he said.

“I continue to believe that brands should invest much more into brand awareness on mobile than into transactions, at least in the context of the second screen.”

Value proposition
Although consumers are multitasking while watching TV, giving them a strong value proposition to use their devices in tandem with TV is tough, according to David Jones, executive vice president of marketing at Shazam, London.

“It takes a compelling value proposition to shift TV viewers from passive TV watching into taking action – overcoming the inertia of leaning back and doing nothing,” Mr. Jones said.

“Then, you have to make it easy from start to finish to complete a purchase, which means using technology where you can to get consumers quickly to the right place, and an overall design philosophy to minimize clicks and taps of all types, especially the filling in of fields and forms on a mobile device – this is the friction,” he said.

“This sounds easy, but is actually quite difficult, especially the final step of paying for something. And, finally, driving impact at scale requires getting the above two pieces right for the just over half of TV viewers who have a smartphone or tablet of some sort – so it has to be a broad-based solution that most can do easily.”

When it comes to commerce specifically, meta data is what is holding the industry back, per Mr. Jones. This means that all information about a TV show including the location, products and services that are featured in a show are kept in one place that consumers can access.

Although there are plenty of barriers for marketers to deal with, there are some results that consumers are willing to buy from their TV sets.

For example, Shazam claims that one clothing retailer that worked with the company saw that 27 percent of consumers who tagged a TV commercial shopped from the tag.

Bank on analytics
Personalization and relevancy is key to all parts of mobile marketing, and is especially important while purchase intent is high when consumers are watching commercials.

Therefore, analytics play a big role in how marketers target content to consumers.

“If advertisers can capitalize on the sophisticated analytics collected on TV viewers’ activity and preferences through connected devices, advertising companies will have better information, which leads to more dynamic, personal ads and direct interaction with consumers,” said Alvir Navin, cofounder/vice president of Flingo, San Francisco.

The divide between marketers using third-party and companion apps is also likely to be a problem for second-screen viewing in the future.

In order for marketers to fully sync up their mobile and TV experience, the experience needs to be as seamless as possible with a universal platform.

“I think that 2013 will be the year that integrated synchronised second-screen commerce will really start to take off,” said Anthony Rose, cofounder/chief technology officer at Zeebox, New York.

“This will be the year where products such as Zeebox deliver the technology platform – automated content recognition, automated TV ad detection, integration with third-party ad platforms, social presence, voting and polling – and audience scale to tempt a sizeable number of brands, merchants and content creators to create integrated tcommerce experiences.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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