Or: how Television turned into a Shopping Cart.

By Christian Knaebel

The acquisition of Vizio through Walmart is a wake up call to the entire TV industry (and to retailers as well) around the globe. TV is not here to inform and entertain only – it is here to shop. Let’s not be surprised: TV was always here to sell us something.

From the early days of Broadcasting, TV existed first and foremost as a conduit to promote products. We always paid with our attention to those shiny images in order to have our eyeballs sold to advertisers. Then came the shopping channels to the TV set. That was the first major inroad from retailing into TV. Not to mention all the infamous infomercials that each of us has once in a while been exposed to with more or less limited success (and pleasure, I might add).

That retail is coming more massively into media – and in specific, onto the TV screen was only a matter of time. You saw it penetrating social media since a while: Tiktok paved the way to a generation of perpetual shoppers. Now the Connected TV technology brings that constant access to every shop you fancy onto your screen into your living room.

It’s the data, stupid!

Walmart was more than ripe to make a major move into this segment. They are in a fierce-less battle with Amazon in the US market over each single Cent that the consumer spends – and the Vizio TV set is now their Trojan Horse to get into the consumers’ living room and straight into their purses. With the Vizio TV set, they have direct access to a truckload of valuable data. They know what you watch, when you watch it and how long you watch it. They know what ads you skip and which ones you watch. They know which shows are popular and which ones aren’t. And they can use all this data to sell more stuff to you.

How often have I proclaimed in the past few years that TV has become a data business as much as a content business? Probably not often enough. But maybe you hear it now. If you do not think ‘Data’ along with anything you do in TV, you are out of business in the next five years (or a romantic storyteller, for which I totally admire you). Data is the lifeblood of this industry. Content is purely the honey pot to allure consumers and collect their data. Content has become the doormat to the retail store.

TV Content has become the Doormat to the Retail Store: Turn it into luxurious carpeting

Now you can go and complain about where we ended as TV industry – but again: we always where here to sell something. So come to grips with it and use this to your advantage: work with the retailers, brands and marketers to create appealing content. Content that still resonates with the audience and makes them stick to the honey pot – and let the data flow.

Some more developments to watch in the context of TV as the Shopping Cart. Ever heard of the Automated Content Recognition (ACR)? You better had: its a technology that is built into a Smart TV and it can identify whats playing on screen. It might do that with sophisticated algorithm to analyse the pixel usage on each given image or via analysing the audio feed. By the way: it might even listen in when you ask Alexa or Siri something (but who cares, do you? I do…but that is a different matter). Anyways; a formidable smart TV company like Vizio has more than 20 Million Smart TVs installed in homes in the US. Officially you had to opt in that they can access your date and collect all the info. Yet, who ever reads all the fine-print when you first start your new TV?

Again: do you now get the full picture (on the big screen) why Walmart is so happy to put 2.3 Billion USD on the table to buy a TV set company?

There are other ways to enter this market as a retailer. You do not need to buy your own TV company – even though I would advise you to seriously consider it. Take for example, Carrefour in France: they partnered recently with Netflix and now include a Netflix subscription into their Carrefour discount programme. When you have the subscription to their loyalty card, you get now ‘House of Money’ free – and guess what: money is in the house for Carrefour. Because for sure, they made it a part of their arrangement with Netflix to get access to that sweet blood called ‘consumer data’.

If you are in Retail or a Brand: Get into TV business now!

Did I say, you should buy a TV company if you are a retailer or brand? Yes, I did. But why bother to deal with those quirky folks that usually run broadcast stations or productions houses. Launch your own TV platform instead. Streaming has become a commodity and is now ubiquitous.

It’s no longer a question of whether you should have a streaming service, but how to make it work for your business. And luckily their are vendors out there who offer you plug-and-play solution. We, for instance, have partners lined up like Sweet TV and can offer you a one-stop-solution for your own TV streaming service – including access to content that is tailored to your specific market needs.

Looking for an even easier entry: try something like shoppable ads or shoppable content. Our friends at AIBUY are at the forefront of that development and can get your product onto a screen near you: and make it shoppable off that screen.

Build the Future of TV: launch a community.

Want to go a step further? Then talk to us about the concept of media communities that are focused on certain niches, topics or demographics and use TV as the linchpin of that community. The future media is an ecosystem of content, creators, consumers, brands and technology. My team and I have the understanding and know-how to make this ecosystem flourish and it is much more tangible and real then the dreamy ideas around Metaverse. Because as you can see from above: it is happening now.

Want to learn more: contact us to discuss how we can get you into retail in media.