Is Connected TV the Future of eCommerce?

There’s a battle going on in households up and down the country.  Just which device is going to become pre-eminent in  ecommerce?Although PCs and laptops still lead the field, their position has been threatened by first the smartphone, and now the tablet – which despite relatively modest levels of penetration is punching way above its weight.But there’s another protagonist in this conflict, and one that’s only just beginning to flex its muscles – connected TV. The problem is, the vast majority of the UK public haven’t realised its potential yet. At least, that’s the finding from Harris Interactive after their latest research into the field.Their findings were that although more than 1 in 10 of people had connected TVs – a greater penetration level than tablets –only ½ of their respondents had actually connected it to the internet.   And although 7 in 10 of those ‘connectors’ used the online services available, only 40% used those online services on a regular basis (at least weekly).Is_Connected_TV_the_Future_of_eCommerceOverall, this means that something in the region of 1-2% of the British public are using the online services available via their connected TV on a frequent basis. It’s no wonder that it hasn’t crossed the radar of most marketers yet.However, despite the widespread consumer indifference to connected TV, most respondents saw it as the future of the living room, and the near future too – 3 in 4 of those surveyed, in fact, including nearly all of those already using connected TV services.So if most think that they’ll have a connected TV in their house sooner rather than later, what’s stopping them from doing it now? In general, most aren’t finding it a compelling enough proposition to let go of the laptop, smartphone or tablet – for now at least.So what do connected TV manufacturers need to do to accelerate adoption of their products?Well, part of the problem is that the eco-system of content for TVs isn’t as developed as it is for other devices.  Where are the apps for TVs?  What about the games designed to be played over a connected TV?  Laptops, tablets and smartphones offer access to a vast array of content on the web – connected TVs just aren’t there yet.And in the same way that connected TVs are some way from being a family’s hub for accessing the internet, they’re also some way from being a hub for the family’s own content. Although catch up and on demand services are included, the TV is a long way from being integrated with other devices to download, store and showcase family photos and videos, for example.Perhaps the market needs the attention that Apple could bring? An Apple TV has long been rumoured and Apple would not only bring something well designed to the marketplace (from an aesthetic and UI perspective) but would likely have the solutions to the barriers to adoption mentioned above.  The iPod was accompanied by iTunes, the iPhone by the app store – Apple don’t only create hardware and accompanying software but compelling content eco-systems too.If connected TV does overcome some of its challenges, then marketers will need to sit up and take notice. Although TV catch up and on demand services like BBC iPlayer, 4OD and YouTube top the list of most popular services used by connected TV users and desired by non-users, 40% of users and 34% of non-users would use their sets to shop online.Suddenly, the prospect of people clicking through from ads directly to brand websites doesn’t seem too distant, and clickable video platforms become more compelling for brands.  And what a showcase for premium and luxury brands the large format of a connected TV would be?That may be the future and if Apple enters the market, as we’ve seen with the iPhone and iPad, that future could be here sooner than we think.

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