As TV viewers have become more adept at ducking away from advertisements, product placement has become more of a standard in a traditional ad buy. But just because a coat or logo appears onscreen, it doesn’t always mean the viewer knows what it is or where to follow through if they see something they’re interested in.
A San Francisco-based startup called Utvee is trying solve that problem by marrying product placement with user tagging in TV shows.
They launched a proof of concept a few weeks ago at ShopGossipGirl.com that highlights what the TV show’s stars are wearing when they’re on-screen. Utvee has hired taggers to identify the clothing and attach links to online stores, although founder Arnon Kohavi says in the future Utvee may split affiliate fees with users who step up and tag clothes and accessories correctly. (Utvee earns a cut of revenue every time a viewer buys a product through finding it on the site.)
ShopGossipGirl.com shows clips from different episodes paired with photos of the product and links leading to the store. An ideal scenario for Utvee would be if a destination like Hulu or Gossip Girl’s network CW paired a full episode with product links.
It’s also an interesting revenue alternative to pre- and mid-roll ads. TV networks are grappling with how to make money from streaming their shows online for free. (Hulu may experiment with subscription models at the request of its co-parent News Corp., said Chase Carey, a News Corp. deputy chairman in October.)
Utvee has two employees and is self-funded.