American Express announced separate initiatives with Fox Broadcasting Co. and NBCUniversal to provide $35 statement credits to Amex card holders who sync their cards to their Facebook accounts and make purchases on e-commerce sites that are tied to the networks’ programming.
For example, users can purchase fashion and home decor props used in the TV show “New Girl,” such as a pair of salt and pepper shakers or the watch a character is wearing onscreen.
When new episodes premiere, at least one item seen in the show is marketed for sale on a Fox-branded shopping site that’s accessible through a desktop Web browser or native applications for iPad, Windows 8 and Xbox devices. Consumers don’t have to be Amex customers to make purchases on the “T-Commerce” site, though the card network said its deal with Fox includes the potential for additional incentives tied to other Fox programming.
The growing popularity of smartphones and tablet devices has spurred a shift in how people watch and engage with television content. The use of so-called second screens has led content providers to seek new ways to engage with viewers who access social media and e-commerce on their mobile devices when they’re watching TV.
According to a 4Q11 survey conducted by TV ratings tracker Nielsen, 88% of tablet owners and 86% of smartphone owners in the U.S. said they used their device while watching TV at least once during a 30-day period. A second survey released in August showed that about half of respondents around the world said they’ve purchased products online and 46% said they use social media to help make purchasing decisions.
“The technology that we are pioneering along with our partners is the first step in fundamentally changing the way that audiences can discover, engage with and ultimately have access to the things they see on television,” said Lou Paskalis, Amex vice president of global media content development and mobile marketing, in a press statement.
NBCUniversal is engaging on the second screen through a partnership with Zeebox, a browser-based and mobile app website that provides interactive, social media and commerce interactions synced to live TV. The service can be synced with social media accounts, allowing viewers to interact with friends and the general public about what they’re watching. Keyword tags that are synced to the programming and advertising content shown on TV allow users to search for more information and shop for products.
Using Zeebox, viewers can purchase items seen on shows like Bravo’s “Life After Top Chef,” E!’s “Fashion Police,” and Style’s “Tia & Tamera.” The items are curated by Daily Candy, an NBCUniversal lifestyle website targeted to women.
The initiative is the latest in a series of second screen and product placement efforts by NBCUniversal, which like all TV networks, faces an ongoing challenge as DVRs become more ubiquitous and more viewers are fast-forwarding through traditional advertisements.
In NBC’s clothing design competition show “Fashion Star,” designers are judged by fashion buyers who make offers to carry the contestants’ creations. Products are available for sale online immediately after an episode airs and in the buyers’ respective stores the next day.
“The integration of commerce enablement into the television and mobile experience creates multiple contextually relevant opportunities to provide exclusive or enhanced benefits to American Express Cardmembers in the comfort of their own living rooms and in the most convenient way for them,” said Paskalis.
For Amex, partnering in these initiatives provides a continuation of its ongoing downstream marketing efforts, which have included promotions tied to video games like Halo 4 and FarmVille. In its announcement Wednesday, Amex also detailed the on-demand channel it launched in September to expand engagement with card holders.
The year-long initiative will use the Amex-branded TV channel to provide content that promotes the features and benefits of Amex cards using interactive programming like games and a live streaming rock concert. The channel was created in partnership with interactive TV and marketing data provider BrightLine and is available through five cable and satellite providers.