“We’re hell bent on owning every stage of the purchase funnel,” Josh Feldman, who heads up marketing and advertising for NBCU, said. NBCU owns Bravo, E!, Oxygen, SyFy and Telemundo, among a few others, and is also set to launch its own streaming platform, Peacock, in April.
For its seventh individual execution of shoppable TV, NBC is partnering with dpHue, the hair-care brand, for an upcoming spot on Kristin Cavallari’s E! reality show “Very Cavallari.” Like earlier iterations of the shopping aspect, at a certain point in the show, a QR code will come up in a bar at the bottom of the screen and viewers can simply hold up their phone’s camera to be redirected to dpHue’s site, enabling them to make a quick purchase. It may not be the stuff of a shopping dream, but according to NBC, people are using it.
When it first tested the technology several months ago, just for research purposes and not with a brand partner, Feldman said the response was so much more than expected that there weren’t enough servers being used and “we crashed a little.”
The company would not disclose any measure of revenue generated from people using the codes — first shown this summer during the French Open and subsequently popping up on “Today” and the Tour de France, among other broadcasts — but it did say brands are seeing a conversion rate 30 percent higher on average than the typical rate for e-commerce. That rate is estimated to be typically around 2 percent, so NBCU’s conversion rate for shoppable TV spots is likely around 28 percent.
That conversion rate translates directly into dollars for NBCU, as the one constant in all of the shoppable TV deals with brands is its taking a percentage of total cart purchase. Feldman said the cut is akin to those of companies participating in affiliate marketing. Affiliate deals do range — typically a site hosting an affiliate link will take between 10 and 20 percent of a purchase. NBCU also has a 30-day cookie window in all of its shoppable TV deals, meaning it gets a cut of any purchases that happen for a brand over a month, as long as they’re linked to the shoppable spot that aired.
“What I love about all of the different executions we’ve done is that all of them are really different, they’re in a variety of programming,” Feldman said. “We’re getting a ton of learnings, but the key thing is we have very happy clients. They see the value in what we’re doing.”
As for Cavallari, who will open an upcoming episode of her show telling viewers to have their phones handy if they want to shop when the time comes, she sees it as a boost to the show overall.
“It’s a great way for me to connect with my fans and personally show how to use this product that I love so much,” Cavallari said.
On the brand front, Feldman said partners are not only seeing increased conversion, but things like increased search happening around the time of a shoppable spot, which some can even link to in-store purchases.
And he said there has been no blowback from any viewers irritated at the idea that they’re now being openly marketed to inside NBCU programming, instead of only during commercial breaks. Feldman said the company has even been seeing “positive mentions” on social media regarding the experience.
“We’re hand-picking the right brands to run in the right environment,” Feldman said. “If you’re a tennis fan watching the French Open, the opportunity to buy Novak Djokovic’s outfit from Lacoste is not intrusive. It’s something viewers expect to see. If we were trying to sell underwear during the Tour de France, that makes no sense and would call into question our ability to market effectively.”
Given the company’s position, there seem to be no plans as of now to have any kind of automated system for shoppable TV that would pick automatically a product out of a line up to push, even as NBCU intends to roll out the technology on all of its 11 networks.
“I’ve got a green light from every single network to do it, but at the right time on the right show,” Feldman said. “You’ll never see a shoppable moment in ‘Nightly News With Lester Holt.’”
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