With advertisers pulling out all the stops for the year's largest and most engaged audience, the Super Bowl is the perfect stage to make a statement. For H&M, this year's big game will be an opportunity to showcase the potential of television commerce, as well as David Beckham's oft-adored body, with an interactive, shoppable commercial.
In the second quarter of Sunday's big game, H&M's ad will be powered by Delivery Agent's technology that lets viewers make purchases from television shows and ads. Back when the company started in 2005, the execution was much clunkier. When viewers watched NBC's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Delivery Agent's first client, they had to go online to make purchases. Eventually the proliferation of mobile devices—and the rise of the second screen—changed that experience, allowing viewers to browse and make purchases on an app while watching TV.
For the Super Bowl, Delivery Agent's implementation will close the loop, allowing consumers to make a purchase directly from the TV with the click of a remote. "We knew it was a matter of time," Delivery Agent CEO Mike Fitzsimmons told Fast Company. "That day has finally arrived." The TV screen will surface additional information, such as product details and the ability to purchase the item, in a sidebar. Though the stage will certainly be big, only a small fraction of viewers at home will be able to experience the commercial's full potential because the interactivity was built specifically for Samsung Smart TVs. (An example of H&M's interactive holiday campaign is below.)
It certainly seems as though there's demand to buy products directly through TV. Take QVC and Home Shopping Network, which respectively raked in $8.5 billion and $3 billion in revenue in 2012. Startups, such as Pradux, are also popping up to help fans track down the looks they see on their favorite shows. Delivery Agent said its audience research found 68% of viewers are interested in the idea of shopping on their TVs.
Still, companies have been talking about television commerce, or t-commerce for short, for close to a decade, and the concept is still largely foreign to most households. It doesn't help that a large fraction of consumers who do upgrade to a connected TV never actually connect their TVs to the Internet.
Carey Kolaja, vice president of product management for PayPal's global solutions, says one of t-commerce's major roadblocks is adoption. The payments company has experimented in this field and sees a possible future where people can purchase items seen on TV with the scan of a fingerprint, much like how Apple has simplified the purchase of apps with the Touch ID sensor on the iPhone 5S.
But to get consumers to actually buy products via app, remote, or even fingerprint is another challenge. Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg, who co-chairs the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Native Advertising Task Force, says research he did as a graduate student at Stanford's Persuasive Technology Lab break down persuasion into three parts: ability (implementation), trigger, and motivation. While Delivery Agent takes care of the technology's implementation and triggers the audience with synchronized interactive content, it has less control over people's motivations. And feelings about underwear.
"Motivation can happen individually and motivation can happen in a social context," says Greenberg, mentioning the popularity of viewing parties for the Super Bowl. "I wonder in a room full of eight people if it might be more motivating for them to buy something for the group. Buying underwear, and especially buying underwear off David Beckham's body, is not something I see doing there—maybe by myself at home."