What happened to shoppable TV....is that It's finally coming, Love Island-style

18th July 2018
What happened to shoppable TV....is that It's finally coming, Love Island-style
Tim Cunningham
Executive Producer

Like many people, I recently downloaded the Love Island app (for business research purposes obviously).

And there – alongside the news of what Jack, Jack, Dani, Dr Alex and the rest are up to, the chance to buy a Love Island branded washbag or water bottle and opportunities to subscribe to the Morning After podcast – is a small icon labelled STYLE.

Press that – and we’re in a world of branded shopping.  Under headline sponsor Superdrug, there’s a subheading – Missguided presents Island Style.

And beneath that, there’s a photo from the show - and your chance to buy exactly what your favourite islanders are wearing. 

Nothing so very new there I suppose – and it’s a pretty obvious tie-in.  Why wouldn’t the four million people who tune in be interested in getting that swimsuit, or those shorts, to impress when they head off on their own summer holidays ? 

Shoppable TV / T-commerce

But it does make me think whatever happened to all that technology that was supposed to have made it easy for us to get whatever we see on screen at the touch of a button?  What happened to shoppable TV, or ‘T-Commerce’?

Back in 2012 it was supposed to be the next big thing – when Ebay launched its Watch with Ebay app, which you’ll now search for in vain on the app store… All kinds of start-ups were promising tech that would help your tablet follow what was going on onscreen, and offer you the chance to buy it, or suggest other stuff you might like to buy given your choice of viewing.

And yet now, 6 years on, and despite the fact that we all have smart TVs and 80 percent of us watch shows on catch-up online on a regular basis, why does it seem that selling power has failed to materialise? Why are there still loads of articles online telling us that T-Commerce is about to be the next big thing? Shouldn’t it be here already? More than three-quarters of viewers want it. Well  it may be soon.

Reasons to shop

After all, it’s an opportunity for all kinds of content – not just reality shows. If I had a pound for every time we got an email when I was Exec Producer of Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff asking where a guest got their dress, shirt or lipstick – and especially regular Rebecca Wheatley’s necklaces - I’d be rich enough to pay someone to write this blog for me. And when I think of the number of pieces of branded content I’ve made that could easily have had a shopping element included that the brand showed little or no interest in, it’s quite extraordinary. 

Perhaps the winning argument is that if you showed a teenage viewer of Love Island a shoppable version where they could actually click to buy the swimsuits from Missguided, intuitively you have to believe it would succeed with the audience.  Especially if that gave them the chance to watch fewer pre-rolls.

I think there’s a simple answer to why it’s not happened yet – creativity.  

Let's get creative

Creative types may be able to come up with a brilliant piece of content, but all too often they think dealing with the actual sales of a product is someone else’s job. But the way to a viewer’s heart and wallet is always going to be with a brilliant idea and a noisy piece of content, but too often creative agencies are too focused on what it looks like, rather than matching that concept with a great way to sell. As the branded content and broadcast space becomes more alive to the still untapped marketing possibilities of their content, it’s only the creators that realise content, AI and e-commerce must work hand in hand if it’s to steal a march on more traditional advertising methods that will thrive.

 A bit like Missile really.