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Zappware Strategy Summit: t-commerce gets AI push

Imagine if you could make your screen interactive – how would that change your business? That’s the proposition from Spott.ai, the Belgium-based outfit which has a SaaS cloud solution allowing clients to upload any content including video and make it interactive – and shoppable.

Michel de Wachter

Speaking at the recent Zappware Strategy Summit in Ghent, company co-founder and co-CEO Michel de Wachter urged content owners, brands and broadcasters to look at the disruption in the media market as an opportunity rather than a danger.

“The next generation of broadcasting and Smart TVs has the intent of going far beyond just applications,” he argued. “Television-based commerce, also known as T-commerce, is on the verge of transitioning our perception of a viewer’s experience by integrating the option to buy products simultaneously. The idea is that one can act on the urge of buying the product seen in a show immediately rather than forgetting about it shortly after. T-commerce is a budding solution for marketers and retailers, as the power of consumerism has shifted to the buyers themselves.”

By providing contextually relevant information, Spott.ai’s software – which runs on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and leverages Microsoft’s facial recognition and language detection software – transforms the audience’s experience of watching a live or on-demand show from a passive into an interactive one.

De Wachter claimed that more than 40% of the TV audience skips ads in a nonlinear environment and that more than half of viewers watch a second screen while watching TV.

“We have to create income and value in a different way,” he said. “You have to rethink the user interaction.”

It all comes down to making the user experience interactive, he said.

“Studies show that people still watch 2.5 hours of TV per day. Service providers invest a lot of money in content. But what you don’t allow viewers to do is what they can do on every other screen which is to tap or push, to interact. What happens if you give them a better experience?

“You have to increase reach by transforming TV into an interactive marketplace. Our technology can turn every platform into a purchase platform, no longer directing viewers to the brand’s website, but having viewers complete a transaction on your platform.”

Launched in 2016, Spott.ai clients include Lidl, H&M, Publicis Groupe, Decathlon, Unilever and the Eurovision Song Contest. It claims more than 60% interaction rates and greater than 3% click throughs boosting conversion to purchase.

“By processing content once [using Spott.ai technology] it becomes interactive across all platforms: your websites, social media channels, third party websites, interactive video player platforms and even physical assets, such as paper magazines and boarding,” de Wachter said.

The Spott.ai dashboard benchmarks performance of every unit of content on all platforms based on views, clicks and baskets.

He admitted that getting Hollywood studios to part with the data about their content (movies, drama) was an uphill task and that the concept would prove itself first on genre such as reality cooking shows or music shows which have an obvious second screen interaction potential (e.g download recipe and buy ingredients or utensils/ viewer singer and buy track).

“You can transform the UX directly into real dollars,” he insisted.