There is quite possibly no other subject in the video world as littered with broken dreams and fueled by overblown hype as that of interactive video shopping. Remember the days when marketers talked about the ability to purchase an outfit Jennifer Aniston wore in an episode of "Friends," right from the comfort of your living room, using a tap of your TV remote? That was 1998.
Yet interactive video shopping is far from dead; in fact, a quiet revolution has been brewing over the last several years that is again breathing life into the genre. This time, whether you're a retailer, a TV network, a DRTV brand, or just an ordinary marketer, you need to pay attention.
On the e-commerce side, brands are experimenting with everything from clickable links in YouTube videos to fully shoppable interactive videos like this one from Barneys New York. TV networks like A&E jumped into video shopping this year with a History shopping app that allowed purchasing via remote control, albeit with limited TV distribution. Even DRTV brands like Bosley Medical are jumping into the game with short, interactive videos crafted from traditional long-form infomercials, bringing the video shopping genre from TV to the web.
The use of interactive video shopping is a growing trend as retailers begin to act more like media companies and monetize their "audience" in-store and online. Best Buy is a good example of a retailer that leverages video shopping to both sell and entertain. TV networks and cable operators are also beginning to see the potential for an alternative revenue stream to traditional advertising in our DVR-happy society, though widespread adoption is hindered by lack of standards for interactive shopping across cable and satellite TV providers (among many other challenges).
For now, interactive video shopping is primarily expanding on the web. The ability to easily create video content, the desire to leverage content as a tool to convert, and the ability to leverage tools like Liveclicker (disclosure: I work there) make interactive shopping more accessible for brands looking to connect with audiences and shoppers in new ways.
So how can you be successful with interactive video shopping? I've compiled a quick best practices checklist to help you get started.
We are still a ways off from interactive shopping becoming universally accessible on television. Yet interactive video is growing nonetheless; both on TV and especially on the web. Time will tell if this time the revolution is for real, or whether we'll be talking about interactive TV shopping in 2020 like we were in 1998. My money is on the revolution. With the growing accessibility and reach of interactive video online, yours should be, too.
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Justin Foster is an entrepreneur specialized in e-commerce and online marketing. In addition to co-founding video commerce startup Liveclicker, Justin also founded the Video Commerce Consortium, the industry's largest trade group devoted to advancing the use of video in e-commerce. Prior to Liveclicker, Justin led the services practice for WhatCounts, an email marketing technology provider, where he was responsible for client strategy and development. He also founded the Email Marketing Roundtable, an industry group that represents over 1,500 email marketers worldwide. Justin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University with emphasis in Information Science and Entrepreneurship and a minor in Chinese from Beijing Foreign Studies University.
March 19, 2014