The Future of TV Home Shopping is on Facebook

Shopping networks have been around as long as most of us can remember. Remember the days when your mom would sit in front of the television, staring at QVC or Home Shopping Network, ordering items on impulse?

These TV shows relied on data from the networks. The data told only one side of the story — how many eyeballs were watching. While this is a standard gauge of broadcast viewership, it gives the broadcaster little insight as to the demographics of the audience (unless the household was a Neilsen family). Sure, they have mountains of customer data — but that’s after the sale.

Imagine now a broadcast platform that allowed you to reach a precise set of consumers. The platform would allow the network to target specific age groups with select interests, even down to geographic locations.

Taking it a step further, imagine the network (or advertiser) can broadcast their sales content live at the exact moment the audience is there. The audience could then make direct purchases from the platform.

It’s already here.

The Future is Facebook

Facebook Live rolled out last year in a closed test and has recently opened to all users. Facebook Live will change how shopping networks can sell to their audience. There’s a huge opportunity for a nimble startup to quickly capitalize on this and make it happen.

Meerkat, Periscope, Snapchat and YouTube are all established video platforms with varying amounts of reach. None of these can compare to the impact, data and connection that Facebook has.

Scenario: A 25-year old, single woman. She works as a busy attorney in the city. She’s health-conscious, belongs to several Facebook fitness groups, and loves to post pictures of what she eats. Armed with this data, a brand like Ninja Blender could target her with a customized shopping program based around fitness products (juicers, blenders, cleanse programs, etc.). She can watch the program and buy all while within Facebook.

Granted, we already have a QVC experience available on the Apple TV. It’s even got a ‘Speed Buy’ button, so you can get that juicer quicker. There’s also rumors of an Amazon eCommerce channel in development for the FireTV. But the jury is still out on how comfortable (or excited) people are in ordering things with a remote. And here’s something important to consider — shopping via a ‘channel’ is an intentional activity (I want to go shopping, so I’ll launch an app or a channel). Unless the programming is compelling or provides extra value, shopping with a remote is still a hard sell. On the other hand, shopping on Facebook is a passive experience and no new behaviors are required. Marketers have already been testing Facebook’s Canvas, which allows browsing and shopping right within ads.

Another point to consider: users are now used to seeing video in their feed. With the targeting data Facebook is equipped with, users are more likely to engage with this new type of video content.

The real opportunity here is for a company with a product to pick up a camera, set up a small studio and launch a show to rival the home shopping networks. You don’t even need to stock the products themselves, you can work out a deal with dropshippers. You just need cameras, on-air talent (it could be you!) and Shopify for Facebook to tie it all together. Once Facebook sees the opportunity, you can bet we’ll see the user experience changing to include ‘Buy’ mechanisms below the feed.

Within 6 months, I predict someone with the right mix of product and sales channels, armed with the goldmine of Facebook data will launch their own 24-hour home shopping channel, right inside your Facebook feed.