NBC launches e-commerce concept optimized for a multi-screen generation

NBC rolled out a new advertising system that hawks products during TV shows using QR codes that viewers scan to access landing pages on their smartphones.

November 4, 2019

NBCUniversal has been slipping high-tech advertisements into some shows. This system is in its infancy, but execs are excited by the results so far. Critics, however, say it’s a bad reboot nobody asked for.

Wait, is this ‘Roseanne’?

No, it’s called ShoppableTV. QR codes pop up during certain shows — usually unscripted programming like sporting events and talk shows. Viewers use their phones to scan the code, which pulls up an e-commerce site.

So far ShoppableTV has been used to hawk Lumi keyboards during “Songland,” Lacoste’s Novak Djokovic Collection during the French Open tennis tournament, the cycling app Zwift during the Tour de France bike race, and select Walmart merchandise during the “Today” show. 

So where does the reboot come in?

Marketers have been trying to tap into TV’s potential for direct sales since at least 1944, when Macy’s introduced Macy’s Teleshopping. The concept has since re-emerged several times — and it’s always tanked. Analysts say the reason is simple: People just want to veg out when they tune in.

But NBC thinks now is the time to make it work. Modern consumers have an “all-screen” mentality — they crave a cohesive experience between multiple devices. Many already interact with shoppable posts on Instagram and Facebook. And NBC boasts its conversion rate — the number of website visitors who make a purchase — is 30% higher than that of traditional e-commerce sites.

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