Seen on TV, Sold Online

Seen on TV, Sold Online

AUGUST 17, 2007

Turning product placements into instant sales.

CEO Mike Fitzsimmons started his path to retail e-commerce with Circuit
City, where he helped launch the company’s catalog and direct-mail
operations. He moved on to SomethingNow, which promotes consumer
electronics online in real time for e-commerce sales.

In 2002, Mr. Fitzsimmons founded Delivery Agent, the parent company of SeenON!.
SeenON! connects viewers with products from television shows, movies,
sports and music videos. SeenON! partners include ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox
and E!. Mr. Fitzsimmons talked about the convergence of TV and retail
e-commerce and how fans help brands.

eMarketer: It seems as if there are a lot of places fans can buy what they see on TV shows. What’s special about the SeenON! service?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: We have been at it the longest, so we
have the deepest relations with studios. That means we have the largest
selection of products seen in various media.

The idea has been around for a while but clicking on the
remote control to order a product seen on a character hasn’t happened.
Other firms have tried with interactive TV. We decided to focus on the
Internet instead.

seen on tv.gif

eMarketer: Who uses the SeenON! service? Do you try to target a particular demographic?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: We aim for viewers age 18 to 49 in the upper-income bracket.

eMarketer: How do you use online video on the site?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: Shopisode is a proprietary video player
which details product information while it shows media clips. We find
that half of the site’s visitors watch video. Conversion also increases
when we use partner assets such as video.

We can feed product information into partner videos through
white-labeling. We power 48 white-labeled SeenON! sites such as SeenON!

eMarketer: Do you have full episodes of shows or only clips?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: We have full episodes, but the focus is
on product information "reveals" or other segments which show off
products. A great example is in home-improvement shows, where someone
sees their completely remodeled house. That short segment shows off all
the products that were used in an effective way.

We’re still experimenting with optimal length. Clips on the
site run anywhere from 15 seconds to five minutes. We also have movie
trailers and full music videos. Rights issues are getting better as the
SeenON! brand builds. We have 100 Shopisodes now.

eMarketer: How do you capture all the products mentioned in a show?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: It’s a data challenge. You need to know
product metadata. So we created a program called Production Agent. It
lets a costume designer or propmaster digitally catalog the show. There
are 200 to 250 product mentions per "Desperate Housewives," for
instance. The program makes it easier to capture all that detail.

Effect of Product Placement on Branding in the US, October 2005-June 2006 (% of respondents)

eMarketer: Fans used to indicate their allegiance by hunting
down things from their favorite shows on their own. Is there a danger
of products losing their cool when they’re so easy to get?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: We make sure we have engaging tools
that fans will want to use. We also let superfans name products they
see on shows. That gets them involved in the site and turns them into

eMarketer: What are you offering advertisers? Or are all the deals for product sales with the shows themselves?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: We do offer ad sales for brands that
aren’t trying to sell products directly. Benjamin Moore paint was our
biggest sponsor last year. They do the "Desperate Housewives"
interiors. We put an interactive set tour on the site, detailing all
the colors used.

eMarketer: Are there any brands you wouldn’t trade with?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: News as a category doesn’t work so well. They also have editorial rules to keep advertising sales and editorial separated.

eMarketer: What should marketers know about product placement in relation to TV and online video?

Mr. Fitzsimmons: Product placement is talked about a lot.
SeenON! is a way to find out exactly how well it works. As for online
video, player pre-roll sponsorship is not the beginning and end of
marketing. The content itself can drive sales.

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