PayPal, Comcast, and TiVo want to make it easy for you to buy stuff right from your TV. With the online payment service's help, such a feature is coming to Comcast customers and users of the TiVo Premiere set top box as early as this fall.
Here's how it will work: Select commercials will send a signal to set-top boxes and connected devices like smartphones or tablets to display a "buy-now" link. Viewers will then be able to purchase an item or make a donation using their PayPal accounts.
PayPal Vice President Scott Dunlap writes in a blog post that his company is "a natural fit" for such a service, and PayPal's payment system is the "critical final piece of the puzzle" for truly interactive shopping using your TV.
Internal research from PayPal shows that half of television users are open to purchasing goods and services through their television, and 30 percent would use PayPal to complete those transactions, a large untapped market for television commerce.
Comcast will enable purchases directly through the remote control or a companion device such as a tablet or smartphone (likely running Comcast's mobile app). The cable provider also will allow advertisers to send "coupons" directly to the PayPal accounts of subscribers.
For TiVo Premiere owners, a clickable "buy-now" link would appear during commercials from companies participating in PayPal's service. The program would pause the programming while the user completes the transaction, TiVo says.
Other companies are attempting to extend their digital services to the television. Music tagging application Shazam enabled tagging of select ads here in the United States last year, which pulls up additional information about the product or service being promoted after the commercial is tagged.
Shazam users are warming up to the idea: When ad tagging debuted in the United Kingdom last month, the first two commercials were tagged some 50,000 times.