Coming soon to a couch near you: laziness. TiVo and Domino's announced this week that they're launching a service that allows you to order a pizza from your TV set-top box. Those who already have a Domino's account don't have to enter their address or name – they just push a few buttons and wait for the pizza to arrive (they will have to get up off the couch to pay the delivery person, though).
It's the latest in an onslaught of services that allow people to buy things from their TVs. In the next few years, we'll be able to buy much more, said Michael Greeson, president and principal analyst at Diffusion Group, a research company.
“You're going to start to see interactive advertising be a regular part of the TV experience in two to three years,” he said. “This is a drop compared to the flood of stuff you're going to start seeing ahead.”
Interactive advertising is especially popular with advertisers trying to attract the attention of consumers fast-forwarding through commercials. That's part of what motivated Domino's to pursue this opportunity, said Rob Weisberg, vice president of precision print and Team USA marketing at Domino's. The pizza-delivery company believes the industry is “moving in this direction,” he said, and wanted to be at the forefront.
Interactive advertising on TVs works a number of ways. There's the menu option, where users go to a screen on their TVs much like an on-demand screen for cable. There, they can see a menu of things available for purchase, click a few buttons and order a pizza. Companies will be competing to get on that screen, Greeson said, because too many choices will turn off consumers.
Consumers also will be able to order products they see in TV shows. This is being deployed by companies such as Backchannel Media, which shows icons on screens. If consumers click on those icons, they'll be sent a link on their computers that shows them where to buy the product.
This is also being deployed during TV commercials, allowing consumers who see a commercial that interests them to click on it and receive more information. TiVo customers who fast-forward through Domino's commercials, for instance, will get a prompt asking them if they want to order a pizza.
“This kind of stuff is considered to be the natural evolution of the shopping channel,” Greeson said.
Ordering products from TV will become more common as sets are equipped with Internet connections. Sony has said that, by 2010, 90 percent of its electronics will be network-enabled.
TiVo already offers customers the ability to buy movie tickets and products on Amazon.com, and pay-TV providers are trying to catch up and expand the possibilities of what consumers can do with their TVs. Domino's approached some of the big cable companies to see if this kind of interactive advertising was possible, but Weisberg says none of the cable companies was able to deploy it nationwide. That's because few of the cable companies allow for two-way communication, he said.
AT&T's U-Verse, for instance, has a partnership with Yellowpages.com that allows customers to look up restaurants and businesses nearby. They have to use their phone to call them, though.
Ordering a pizza by phone? How 1990. If you want to be at least a little hip to technology, you can at least order your pizza via SMS.