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NBCUniversal’s ShoppableTV Puts a New Spin on Home Shopping

NBCUniversal will now display scannable QR codes during its programming, allowing viewers to shop directly from their favorite shows in a new spin on the concept of home shopping.

The program, called ShoppableTV, is a play to increase conversion rates for advertisers. It works by allowing consumers to scan QR codes on their TV screens and checkout on a brand’s website or relevant marketplace after entering payment and delivery details.

The program debuted earlier this month with a test run on the “Today” show’s “Steals and Deals” segment, generating thousands of scans and six figures in sales “within minutes,” the network told TechCrunch. It is also the first time QR codes have been used to drive direct sales through television programming, the network said.

NBCUniversal plans to incorporate ShoppableTV’s “shoppable moments” into the broadcast schedules for NBC, NBC Sports, Telemundo, Bravo, E!, CNBC Prime and USA Network.

“By pairing brands with our premium content, owning every stage of the purchase funnel and removing the barriers consumers traditionally encounter between seeing a product and making a purchase, we’re giving marketers a direct sales channel to millions of viewers across the country,” said NBCUniversal’s head of marketing, Josh Feldman, in a press statement.

“Today” show producer Michele Leone described using this new QR-based smartphone method to purchase a bra and leggings set from the Steals and Deals segment, which regularly spotlights heavily discounted specials, as “cool and convenient.”

The ShoppableTV effort is just the latest in the network’s quest to optimize conversion rates. Last fall, NBCUniversal announced that it would be adopting a machine learning tool called the Context Intelligence Platform, which parses the action taking place on screen (through the analysis of scripts, closed captions and visual descriptions) and pairs upcoming commercials accordingly.

Earlier this year, NBCUniversal announced that it would be partnering with Sky, a British satellite TV, broadband and mobile network also under the Comcast umbrella. The companies will combine NBCUniversal’s use of artificial intelligence in media planning with Sky’s expertise in targeting ads to specific households. The global partnership will work to ensure that viewers are being served advertising that resonates with their interests, Reuters reported in March.

Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.