Skip to main content

Originally posted by Adweek

By Bill Bradley & Mollie Cahillane | August 14, 2023
The latest strides in shoppable TV are all about “remote” possibilities—meaning, now consumers can browse and buy using only their remote controls.

For instance, Roku’s recently expanded partnership with Shopify allows viewers to check out from the TV by simply clicking “OK.” And Peacock’s Must ShopTV utilizes AI to allow consumers to purchase their favorite on-screen items from NBCUniversal content.

“Everybody’s very excited about the reality that we’re using smart TVs to enable full-funnel activity because it is basically another computer in the house with a gorgeous screen,” said Kelly Metz, managing director, advanced TV activation, Omnicom Media Group. “There’s no better way to shop for certain items.”

And the industry is just getting started.

“The most exciting headway over the past 18 months has been in solving [the] first problem: Can we get viewers to lean in and engage with an ad in the first place, build up that top of the funnel and build up viewer intent?” said Peter Hamilton, Roku’s senior director of ad innovation.

In addition to the recent Shopify partnership, Roku—one of the first streamers in shoppable—has also made Walmart its exclusive retailer.

“Since the release of the Walmart and Shopify checkout integration, we continue to reduce that friction in the bottom of the funnel, and we’re seeing the kind of conversion rates you might expect from a click-to-conversion,” said Hamilton. “Working on the bottom of the funnel will be something we continue to optimize, and I expect 18 months from now for that to be even more performant.”

Expanding the digital shelf

For marketers, publishers such as Roku are helping make shoppable experiences part of the regular ecosystem and expanding the “digital shelf,” according to Amy Lanzi, CEO, Digitas North America.

“This now takes that concept and puts it in places where we’re spending our time and attention, which is when you’re at home, either looking at your big screen or small screen, depending on how you engage with content,” Lanzi said.

As the industry pushes the limits of traditional advertising, meeting consumers where they are and adding contextual relevance is key.

“It’s about advertising around the pod and how we actually engage with that type of technology to inform the consumer journey,” Metz said, adding that measuring analytics such as interactions will help optimize the full consumer experience. “That’s where we just improve the experience for all consumers and get good about showing them what they need to be shown at the right time.”

And capabilities are moving beyond the screen. See

For example, Netflix, which recently announced new offerings within its ad tier, is continually looking for ways to expand its IP. The publisher has already launched several pop-ups, including its first culinary space in Los Angeles, and is creating new in-store expansions through partners including Lacoste and Walmart.

“The content-to-commerce inherent component, I think, is almost the most important thing around the promise of shoppable,” Lanzi said. “There’s the tech part, but then there’s the, ‘I really want to be able to have (that) Emily in Paris outfit, so I can actually buy it in this moment, or I can go to this amazing pop-up and get it then,’ which I think is a new trend.”

Making experiences work for consumers

“Any interaction with a brand can be a shoppable moment,” according to Tim Hemingway, svp, commerce, Havas Media Group.

“In the past, we were looking at this from a standpoint of how do we get them to go from point A to point B to point C, that conversion. And now, we’re pulling it back, looking at it and saying, ‘Hey, let’s allow the customer or the consumer to shop where they want to shop, but allow them to shop in a way that works for them,’” he said.

“Works” is the operative word there, as the quickest way to kill a new technology is a bad experience.

“Experience is everything here,” Metz said. “There’s nothing more annoying as a consumer than a broken shopping experience.”

Unfortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for that experience to break along the way.

Talking shop

Navigating various operating systems is an ongoing hurdle facing shoppable innovation, with different devices all running on different tech. Additionally, fulfillment is an ever-present obstacle, with publishers needing the right partnerships to connect consumers to vendors or seamlessly handle payments.

“Is there an app? Is there a QR code? Where do they have to be to engage with that interaction and make that immediate purchase?” Hemingway said. “The simpler that platforms can make it for the consumer to make that decision to purchase, the more likely it’s going to happen.”

On the publisher side, the two biggest hurdles in shoppable, according to Hamilton, are creating a lean-in experience for viewers in what is typically a lean-back environment and reducing the friction of the funnel to make the purchasing experience as easy as possible.

“Roku approaches this as really a TV-first platform. We are not trying to be a search ads business. We are a television-first platform that’s unbiased to work with many partners who are in the business of commerce,” Hamilton said. “We want to make an open ecosystem where we empower those commerce platforms and retailers to connect to television as a digital front end.”

Among the publishers in the lead, marketers praised Roku and NBCUniversal for their strides in partnerships and fulfillment. In addition, Metz pointed to Amazon as a “behemoth lying in wait,” considering its end-to-end capabilities and upcoming entertainment offerings such as the first Black Friday NFL game.

“If you think about the evolution, we’ve got these amazing capabilities,” Metz said. “Now we’re looking to scale those capabilities and to see the American consumer adopt them.”