The Digital Reinvention of Home Shopping Networks

Shoppable content makes it that much easier to buy things from your couch

Earlier this month, One Platform Commerce, NBCU’s initiative for shoppable TV, announced a partnership with PayPal. And this week, just in time for the holiday shopping season, NBC ran a two-hour shopping special on “Today All Day,” Peacock’s dedicated streaming channel for its tentpole morning show. This is a particularly savvy use of the brand’s streaming platform, which allows for virtually unlimited run times as compared to the tight segments of Today’s broadcast program. The showcased products were available for purchase on a dedicated brand site and accessible via on-screen QR codes.

This option presents a novel entry point into traditional advertising for young and DTC brands — 94% percent of the One Platform Commerce partner companies have never run a TV ad. Though brands like these are more often associated with social media advertising, shoppable content that builds on existing brands and creators, whether it be the Today show or Emma Chamberlain, gives advertisers more options. With this move into shoppable content, NBC joins brands like TikTok (which recently announced a partnership with Shopify) and LG Smart TVs (which now come with a built-in shopping streaming channel). Instagram launched a Shop feature for creators and brands this summer and already has shoppable content in IGTV, which will expand to Reels later this year. Amazon and Google have also invested in the livestream commerce arena. Though Amazon Live and Google’s Shoploop haven’t made big waves yet, if digital malls stick around for the near future, we’ll likely be seeing more from them soon.

In many ways, the shoppable streaming content of today is an extension of what many influencers, particularly in fashion and beauty, have been doing on platforms like YouTube for years. Of course, haul videos and “first impressions” also build on the tradition of home shopping television networks. Today’s commerce-focused digital video combines the tried-and-true banter of brands like HSN and QVC (both founded in the mid-1980s) with the technology of today. No need for “Call now!” messages. Instead, hosts can prompt the audience to scan a QR code or hit a link, if viewing on a mobile device. The widespread adoption of QR codes in the United States in the midst of the pandemic has normalized their use, making it easier for companies like NBCU to put a direct, trackable CTA in the middle of a program.

It remains to be seen how this holiday shopping season will shake out. Despite the financial toll the pandemic has had across industries, many are predicting record spending. Online sales have been gaining on brick and mortar for years, and shoppable content makes it that much easier to buy things from your couch. This year, Cyber Monday will almost certainly be more eventful than Black Friday. But with sale seasons becoming increasingly borderless and retail itself inching closer into our homes, there’s no reason to believe that the shopping season will end with the new year.



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