Convenience To Go

When you think of media innovation, the harnessing of the latest technologies and the reinvention of business processes, you probably don't then think of pizzas (unless that kind of mental exercise makes you hungry).

But maybe you should. Domino's Pizzas has long been at the forefront of televisual experimentation, having pioneered the use of the Digital TV Return Path to effectively increase sales internationally. In the UK, the company launched its first foray into interactive TV in 1999 with Rupert Murdoch's Sky. .

Initially viewed with a mix of amusement and skepticism, this rapidly became one of the emerging platform's most heralded success stories, as couch potatoes across the country latched onto the idea of ordering their favorite pizza with just a few pushes on the remote control. No dialing, no waiting to get through while the local store was backed up in peak hours, and no repeating your order to a hassled employee at the other end. If you had kids, you didn't even have to go to the door to collect it - what better and more wholesome picture of life in the fast-food lane could you think of? .



Although the early success of the effort later waned as broadband penetration significantly increased, the model had been proven, and the convenience behind the basic proposition had been shown to work. .

Here, too, in the U.S., Domino's has led the way with its experimentation, going back as far as its participation in the Full Service Network in Florida - probably the best known of all the early iTV trials in the US. .

Now comes the announcement that the concept will at last be rolled out nationally here through a partnership with TiVo. In talking about this initiative over the last 24 hours with a handful of people, the general reaction has been a gentle mix of curiosity, disbelief and sneaking admiration for what appears at face value to be some innovative thinking. To some extent, I would agree that it represents innovation in a market-specific sense, but Domino's - and I suspect TiVo -- are very sure of what they are doing and have plenty of evidence from elsewhere to give every reason to be confident. .

Think about it. People eat pizza when they watch sports. It's not the only occasion when they do so, but if a tiny fraction of the TiVo subscribers who watch sports buy into the ease and convenience of buying their pizza using this method for themselves and the friends who join them to watch the big game, then the current deal will pay back and be extended. Once again, it's an example of selling to an existing behavior and making it easier, rather than trying to change behavior to effect a purchase -- and it will work. .

This is one significant part of what interactive TV is about -- satisfying pre-defined needs and desires that are TV-related. It's not the only thing, and not everything will sell successfully on TV. But convenience like this will undoubtedly sell.

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