NBCU lets viewers buy what they see using mobile devices

Michelle Clancy | 08-11-2012

NBCUniversal has rolled out a broad-ranging click-to-buy, social TV-enabled advertising push across its networks, with a campaign that lets viewers buy what they see in shows using Android and iOS devices.

Viewers will be able to buy products inspired by Bravo's Life After Top Chef, E!'s Fashion Police and Style's Tia & Tamera from DailyCandy, an NBC-owned site. Customers using an American Express card get a bonus one-time $35 statement credit.

The initiative is enabled by zeebox, which NBCU owner Comcast took a stake in earlier this fall. zeebox uses a combination of video fingerprinting, audio content recognition and closed-captioning information to allow users to sync the mobile zeebox app with living-room TV programming on about 150 channels nationwide and local programming in five large designated market areas (DMAs). It offers standard social and second-screen TV functions like Twitter and Facebook integration and comprehensive TV listings, but also additional information on actors and the show, behind the scenes video, polls, special downloads, e-commerce and m-commerce opportunities and promotions, personalized advertising and anything else that a content provider would like to serve up on iOS and Android devices, and via the Web.

When Comcast took the (undisclosed) stake, it vowed to develop special advertising and content for the platform across NBCU properties, adding zeebox tags for 307 shows, including 165 shows across 14 national networks, while running zeebox ads across its networks. Comcast as an MSO said it would insert ads in its local advertising spots on more than 30 networks.

NBCU's first zeebox effort was the launch of content for its blockbuster reality singing competition, the Voice. Songs playing during the broadcast trigger special offers within zeebox for Apple users to buy the song from iTunes, tapping into an impulse-buy opportunity.

Eventually, Comcast hopes to make zeebox, first launched in the UK last year, the go-to platform of choice in the United States for second-screen TV in order to drive scale and woo developers to the service—therefore broadening ancillary ad and commerce opportunities for content providers. It's making some headway: Viacom and Time Warner's HBO/Cinemax have also signed on as strategic partners for the service, and have committed to writing zeebox content across its premium original series and documentaries.

To help things along, zeebox's OpenBox API opens the app to the innovation of developers. zeebox said that content companies and distributors can create and publish content in "minutes."

"zeebox was built as an open platform that programmers and operators can easily use to enhance their brands on the second-screen, engage with fans and build new ways to bring the TV and Internet advertising industries together," said Ernesto Schmitt, zeebox CEO and co-founder. "The most engaging, compelling consumer experience on the second screen will be driven by the depth of content and the degree of integration with established TV brands."