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Cross Marketing for Viewers Made Easy

(by L. Roze, co-author A. Schiffler)

As we all know, marketing has evolved from the late trials of billboard ads to banner ads on Internet sites. It is speculated that a typical person is exposed, on average, to 3’000 different types of advertising each and everyday. Marketing gurus understand that a person is desensitized to the everyday bombardment of advertising, and thus acts accordingly to innovate and grab their attention. Most of the time, we are unaware and pass them off as nothing new, but we do have times of focus, and we do pay attention to certain things, right? Well, this is the prime real estate that marketers are always trying to reach. Today, the focus isn’t on the commercials in the previews before the movie, but the product placements during the show. The ultimate test is to find that kind of opportunity which can provide added value to the viewing audience by not alienating them from the action of viewing.

I’m not what you would call a TV addict, but during the long winter months in Canada, I do my fare share of viewing. And I, unlike most, pay close attention to the commercials and the product placements in network slots and in movies. After some digging around, I discovered this industry has some ingenious marketing ploys brought forth by the top dogs in the US media industry, which I’ve coined “Slot Shopping” (patent pending). Slot Shopping is defined as the art of making products available during or after the act of viewing: the ability to view and purchase items seen on the episode or the movie! What a concept! However, currently there are some major flaws with what they are doing, and I plan to suggest a solution that could change the way we watch AND shop.

Case Study: Fox
The Fox Broadcasting Company, established by Rupert Murdoch in 1986, has launched many actors into stardom through its television series and movies. With the current pop culture focused on consumption and collection, shows like The Simpsons and movie such as Mr. & Mrs. Smith generate lots of buzz in these sectors. So, Fox offers some merchandise on their site, like DVD’s and other paraphernalia, but it fails to take it that one step further for the extra added value.

Problem: Fox
The products in the shop are very centric to the shows and the characters. This is understandable for shows and movies that feature animation, but for the others, they seem to have missed the mark. The focus of the merchandise is strong branding it with logos of the show, characters faces and expressions, or the movie title, but the organisation and variety of products is lacklustre.

Case Study: NBC
Known for its infamous peacock logo, NBC launched its television debut in 1941. The popularity in its shows has created much attention in the media and on the street. Take for example the controversial sitcom Will & Grace, one of the hottest shows. This situation comedy is broadcasted in over 32 different countries and deals with mature content. Revered for its style On-Air, the NBC understood this and responded to viewer request by setting up a shop on their site to sell articles of clothing and home accessories seen in specific episodes. You have the option to hand pick the episode, location, or character to see the featured products that was showcased: Will & Grace returns 190 products ranging from espresso machines to boots. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is another popular show that invites many rising stars: 237 products most of which are music CDs for performing guests. They too have the opportunity to push sales through the NBC.com site concurrently with the televised appearance. What better way to watch and shop from for home, this is a revolution in home shopping. Or is it really?

Problem: NBC
The site is well made, however, it lacks a connection from the show to the site. This breakdown in communication likely leads to low sales and loss of potential revenue. The solution lies with assimilation of the show through technology such as streaming media directly on the screen.

So is Slot Shopping a dud?

With current implementation, the major problem in most cases is the lack of a recognizable connection between the shows or movies and the websites that push the products. This is understandable, because TV and the Internet are two different media types and integration is hard. Very hard! The answer might be with the current developments of Internet technology itself: P2P, streaming, on-demand video. As we know, the Internet is taking a stronghold on the viewing audience. People like a more interactive experience that allows them to be in complete control. What better way to give them this freedom of watching an episode again by offering a free streaming video service over the Internet coupled with the ability to acquire products or articles seen on their screen? What better way to shop for products sprinkled with endorsements by your favourite TV actors in the form of short clips?

The art behind this is an organized timeline that would coordinate clusters of products specifically timed during key events of a movie or show. This data, coupled with the proper presentation is a winner. A constant stream of products would be distracting and annoying, furthermore, not all movies and shows could support this technology (e.g. imagine the shopping experience during Ridley Scott’s “Alien”). But a sensible and highly interactive approach, using dynamic content technologies such as AJAX would enable the potential consumers to link themselves to the product directly while continuing to enjoy the stream, thus stimulating an impulse purchase made easy. The potential of being a click away could generate a huge potential in traffic and in sales. Clips of highlights of the show could also be offered together with the product, to demonstrate that the article or item was in fact worn by that star. Sort of a virtual value-add and endorsement of the product. Moreover, the web analytics potential could answer some very important questions regarding customer behaviour while viewing. These types of study could provide unheard of competitive advantages with the use of leading edge data mining tools.

Think about it, how cool would it have been to be able to get the exact same leather jacket and glasses as Neo in The Matrix, or order that bikini worn by Hally Berry in the James Bond movie Die Another Day – and get these show as free stream On-Demand from the Internet This stylistic dream could soon become a reality – maybe not with blockbusters like The Matrix – but certainly with more traditional network fare. There is definitely a huge potential for product sales when making television shows and movies available over the Internet.

By IC-Academy | June 14, 2006 | News & Trends

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