Coming soon to a couch near you: dinner that you've ordered by picking up the remote.
TiVo Inc. and Domino's Pizza Inc. on Monday launched a service that allows consumers to order food delivery from their TV set-top boxes.
The offering, which is available to those of TiVo's 3.6 million subscribers who have a broadband-ready box, is at the forefront of what's expected to be an onslaught of services allowing people to buy things through their TVs.
"You're going to start to see interactive advertising be a regular part of the TV experience in two to three years," said Michael Greeson, president and principal analyst at research firm Diffusion Group. "This is a drop compared to the flood of stuff you're going to start seeing ahead."
Interactive advertising is becoming popular with advertisers trying to attract the attention of consumers who fast-forward 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 the pizza delivery company.
Domino's customers can buy food from the couch through one of the key features of interactive TV: the menu option. On their TV screens, users can see a list of items available for purchase, then click a few buttons and place an order.
TiVo users don't have to type in their names or addresses with a remote. Instead, they can set up a Domino's account online that will store their information so orders through TiVo take only a few button pushes.
Interactive TV menu screens will become valuable real estate for companies looking to sell products, Greeson said. Marketers will compete to get on the menu screen.
Consumers soon will be able to use their TVs to order products they see in shows. This is being deployed by companies such as Backchannelmedia Inc., which displays icons on screens and invites consumers to click on these icons to receive a message sent to their computers showing them where to buy the product.
This click-to-order method will also work during TV commercials, allowing consumers who see an ad that interests them to press a button to find out more information. TiVo customers who watch Domino commercials, for instance, will now get a prompt asking them if they want to order a pizza -- even if they're skipping through the ad.
"This kind of stuff is considered to be the natural evolution of the shopping channel," Greeson said.
Ordering products from TV should become more common as sets are equipped with Internet connections. Sony has said that by 2010, 90% 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.
Domino's approached some of the big cable companies to see whether this kind of interactive advertising was possible, but Weisberg said none of the cable companies was able to deploy it nationwide. Yet.
"We definitely believe that this is the direction that industry is moving in," Weisberg said.