Monday, December 29

Honey, Did You Tivo the Sunday Best Buy Ads?

Convergence isn't always about solving the Next Big Problem by combining two distinct technologies. Sometimes it just takes a low cost of entry and a large industry struggling to survive.

Newspaper FSIs have a long successful history as a marketing sales tool. All major retailers invest substantial amounts of their advertising budget to reach consumers at the Sunday morning breakfast table. But the declining health of the newspaper industry threatens to decimate this once-dominant medium.

FSIs migrated from print to website a few years ago, and now most retailers offer a localized version of their newspaper ads for online viewing.

But now this advertising workhorse has made an even bigger leap into the future. This marketing channel is actually turning into a TV channel. Comcast recently launched Video On Demand Circulars for their cable subscribers. It's almost too bizarre to describe, so I will let them do it:
Video Circulars On Demand is able to take a retailer’s current pre-print advertising materials, convert them into video using our “OnDemand Publishing Platform” and make them available to consumers on their TV Screens. On Demand Publishing is an advertising tool that lets advertisers convert static ads into a slideshow-style video, which is then placed On Demand — allowing consumers to learn about products at their leisure. It’s like moving all of the content from your display ads, free standing inserts, catalogs, and direct mail campaigns to one place-on TV. The same way that you would order a pay per movie, our subscribers will be able to watch a free video about your store’s promotions.

So let's assume that consumers really want to watch FSI slideshows. And that they are willing to search them out "on demand," bypassing other VOD entertainment content in the process. Currently this walled garden doesn't even have a gate that allows you to purchase directly from your TV. The videos can be customized to provide local store info (Great Indoors example). Other retailers opt for a 1-800 phone number or custom URL.

Perhaps this will succeed as television sets become more interactive, allowing consumers one-click purchase directly from the videos. The convergence of video FSIs with IPTV would allow Comcast to customize the ads personally for each household. And perhaps, someday, our grandkids will laugh and shake their heads as we describe how store promotions used to to be printed and dropped on our doorstep every Sunday.

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