NBC & American Express Let Viewers Buy Items They See on TV Via Their Mobile Device

From Mashable:

NBC Universal and American Express have partnered for a program that lets viewers use their mobile devices to buy stuff they see on TV.

The deal relies on Zeebox, an iOS and Android app which NBC hopes to persuade viewers to download. Once armed with the app, consumers will be able to click-to-buy items from DailyCandy, an NBC-owned site that will curate exclusive products inspired by Bravo’s Life After Top Chef, E!’s Fashion Police and Style’s Tia & Tamera. AmEx customers will get a one-time $35 statement credit when they sign up.

Zeebox’s app, which launched in the UK last November and has amassed 1.5 million users so far, became available in the U.S. last month after Comcast made an investment in the company.

NBC is heralding the click-to-buy arrangement as the first of its kind. However, it is not quite the realization of TV execs’ decade-long dream that would let viewers buy a sweater they saw on TV and then click to buy it. Instead, the app directs viewers to a website for curated items that are “inspired by” the shows and don’t necessarily appear on the shows.

Though the deal is a baby step for click-to-buy commerce, NBC is putting some weight behind it, including 30-second vignettes starting Wednesday night — one of which stars Fabio — that instruct viewers about how to download Zeebox. NBC’s attempt to realize click-to-buy commerce comes as TiVo and PayPal joined forces for a similar effort in June. For Zeebox, the backing of NBC Universal helps it stand out among other second-screen social TV experiences including, most notably, GetGlue.

Why Am I Curious?

This is an interesting effort to take a step into social TV foray by American Express. But, the actual reason I am curious about is related to this quote from American Express: “American Express isn’t expecting millions of dollars in transactions to take place this time around, Mr. Paskalis said, but rather wants consumers to see the company enabling new ways of purchasing goods and interacting with programming.”

This mindset is something I have been becoming increasingly aware of among brands who want to be perceived as innovators and thoughtleaders. It sounds particularly close to some of the things I have read from GE around they may not get the same level of traction on each platform but being active on these platforms is representative of their core brand values – almost like Channel as a Message. It is a very interesting notion and i am curious about the resource allocation for this purpose and if more brands will start to take on different channels with this purpose.

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