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Couch commerce: data points to influence of Christmas TV on online shopping

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The rise of couch commerce is illustrated in new data from eBay , which maps how Christmas TV prompts shopping searches from dual screening viewers.

eBay Advertising has looked back at how seasonal specials prompt shoppers to search or buy – to suggest which shows are likely to benefit retailers and brands this Christmas.

It has analysed the behaviour of its 22m active UK buyers to explore how TV shows influence couch commerce, and identifies the Christmas special season as prime time for dual screening.

It says that during the airing of the BBC’s 2015 Christmas adaptation of Agatha Christie classic, And Then There Were None, there was a 44% increase in searches for “smoking jacket” on The programme’s star, Aidan Turner, also influenced viewer browsing: his appearance on screen sparked an overnight jump of 339% in searches for “Poldark,” the BBC drama he is best known for. This year, BBC 1 will be airing another Christie adaptation, Witness for the Prosecution. This, says eBay, gives brands another chance to tap into a likely rise in viewer interest in period fashion.

The costumes featured in the 2016 New Year special Sherlock Holmes and the Abominable Bride had a significant effect on shopper behaviour on eBay. On the day the show aired, interest in Sherlock’s signature “deer stalker” hat rose by 55%, while searches for tweed items, which featured in the show’s Victorian period setting, were up by more than a third (35%). Plot details remain under wraps, but 2017’s New Year special is set in the present day, so advertisers can expect Sherlock’s distinctive sartorial style to drive a spike in interest for more modern trends amongst the show’s fans.

Perennial favourites Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off also had a quantifiable impact on shopper behaviour on, with individual episodes driving specific, often unexpected spikes in interest.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Movie Week, for example, triggered a big uptick in searches for the films that were featured. Searches for “The Mask” increased on by 995% while the show was on air, after Ed Balls performed a lively routine inspired by the film. Searches for “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Mary Poppins,” two of the other soundtracks featured in the show, also rose overnight by 100% and 49%, respectively, suggesting the show’s Christmas special could have a significant impact on shopper behaviour. Ed Balls’ turn as Jim Carrey saw searches for his autobiography, Speaking Out, jump by 120% on eBay UK on the day of the show.

One of the most surprising hits of The Great British Bake Off wasn’t related to the food being crafted, but to contestant Candice’s make-up choices, which, says eBay Advertising, inspired viewers to replicate her look. When she wore a bright pink lipstick on the show, searches for “pink lipstick” on rose by 233% within an hour of the broadcast. When she switched to red the week after, searches for “red lipstick” were up 133% while the episode was on air. eBay says the return of some of the series’ favourite contestants in The Great Christmas Bake Off this year could give be a valuable opportunity for marketers to engage viewers when they have more time and potentially Christmas spending money to spare.

Rob Bassett, head of UK and EU multinational advertising at eBay Advertising, said: “This data demonstrates how blurred the lines between different forms of media have become. While television may have influenced shopping behaviour for decades, the rise of ‘couch commerce’ means brands can tap into the peaks in interest driven by television shows in real-time. This allows them to engage purchase-ready consumers with messages that speak to what’s interesting and inspiring them in the moment.

“Creating this real time relevance requires brands to be able to effectively identify and target shoppers who are dual screening. But the pay off is well worth the effort – helping to minimise wastage, boost sales, foster loyalty and improve brand perception.”

eBay’s data demonstrates that popular subscriber platforms, such as Netflix, also wield a powerful influence over consumer behaviour, though over a longer time frame. In the seven weeks following the launch of Netflix’s hit show, Stranger Things, two of the most recognisable costume items from the series drastically increased in popularity on Searches for “shearling jacket” increased by 136%, while interest in “army jacket” rose by more than a third (35%). Interest in Winona Ryder’s previous films also peaked, with searches for “Girl, Interrupted” up by a fifth over the same period.

Pauline Robson, director, MediaCom, said: “The TV industry has evolved hugely over recent years, with stalwarts like the BBC and ITV being joined by subscriber services such as Netflix and Hulu. Consumers have access to more TV content, on a greater number of devices than ever before. This means brands need to take an integrated approach to campaigns, harnessing the power of online as medium to interact with other channels.”

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