Two years ago, David Beckham made headlines (and straight women's days) by appearing in a Super Bowl ad for his H&M Bodywear line wearing little on his body. This year, fans will have the opportunity to literally buy the shirt off his back.
Ad Age reports that H&M will air the Super Bowl's first "t-commerce" ad, allowing viewers to purchase items they see on screen directly through their televisions. According to H&M and Delivery Agent, the advertising technology company responsible for the interactive commerce, viewers with certain Samsung smart TVs will be able to directly engage with the commercial using their remote controls.
Samsung announced the addition of in-show shopping apps to its smart TVs on Monday at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It's part of a $5 million partnership with Delivery Agent, which counts among its clients NBC, CBS, HBO, Showtime and Fox, which is airing the Super Bowl this year. With the investment, Samsung and the other affiliated companies, are betting that the recent migration of shopping habits to the Internet ("e-commerce") and specifically mobile ("m-commerce") will continue on the path to the television of the future, which combines the old purpose of delivering a product's message with the new role of helping viewers acquire it.
The effectiveness of television advertising has been in decline. A recent report by research firm Communicus concluded that only one in five Super Bowl ads results in a product purchase. That means 80 percent of those $4 million, 30-second spots don't actually sell anything, while 60 percent of ads fail to increase purchase intent. Because Super Bowl ads fare better than other ads, that's cause for all advertisers to worry.
Perhaps t-commerce is the solution. The main factors in engagement are awareness, interest and intent. A successful ad will familiarize viewers with the brand, pique their interest in the product, and persuade them to make a purchase. As Communicus notes, the most popular Super Bowl ads aren't always the best at selling products, and specifically suffer when it comes to brand recall. A commercial could be so entertaining that hours after it's viewed, its central plot or hook remain more memorable than the brand or product. T-commerce could help overcome this hurdle by eliminating the wait time between seeing the ad and deciding to buy the product. T-commerce can also help bypass what Communicus calls the "video vampire" effect, in which a celebrity actually distracts from the brand and the product in the ad -- a phenomenon demonstrated by H&M's first Beckham commercial, which Forbes notes was one of the least effective ads from the 2012 Super Bowl.
There are possibilities for t-commerce in all kinds of TV shows. Imagine being able to dress like your favorite prime-time characters, buying Don Draper's three-piece suit or Olivia Pope's white coat while watching their exploits on your couch. There possibilities in sports memorabilia, too -- think, for example, how many more Andrew Luck jerseys would have sold immediately after Saturday's incredible Indianapolis Colts comeback if the purchasing whims of fans were at the mercy of a remote-control button.
The major roadblock to a future of television shopping is the relative dearth of smart TVs in households today and the lack of interest in purchasing one anytime soon. Eventually, however, we'll all come around to buying them, just as we bought DVD players and smartphones and tablets, and then we'll have yet another medium to fuel our incessant need for consumption.