ITV is launching shoppable television, allowing viewers to buy products from programmes directly on screen. It is claiming that it will be the first service of its kind in the United Kingdom. It comes more than 20 years after proponents of interactive television first talked about being able to buy Jennifer Aniston’s jumper on screen.

Before you get too excited at the prospect, it will initially be limited to users of certain LG televisions watching Love Island on ITV2. Boots the chemist is the first confirmed advertiser, seeing it as an opportunity to sell cosmetics.

ITV says the interactive system uses artificial intelligence technology from TheTake, which is built directly into LG television sets in the United Kingdom and is being used for the first time there by ITV.

All 2021 LG TVs have the technology integrated as standard and it can be added via software update to 2019 and 2020 models. TheTake technology is already in use in the United States across programming from NBCU, Warner Media, the NBA and MLB.

The service identifies and tags featured products during programmes and notifies viewers that products on-screen are available. If a viewer is interested, they can select to view more information with their remote and make a purchase via the vendor’s site or a link sent to their phone.

Using the on-screen shopping interface, viewers can scroll through products, which will refresh when different products and characters are shown during a programme. Viewers can also choose to view all products available from the episode of the show that they are watching.

ITV launches shoppable television with TheTake

“This is a unique commercial opportunity and the next natural step in what we can offer to brands,” observed Bhavit Chandrani, the director of digital and creative partnerships at ITV.

Paul Ridsdale, who is acting chief marketing officer at ITV, said: “Shoppable TV is a wonderful innovation to allow ITV viewers to be able to shop directly from their TVs, filling a real gap currently in the market. We know ITV viewers enjoy being able to purchase items featured in our programmes and this makes doing that smoother and easier than ever before.”

“This AI feature makes the LG TV viewing experience more convenient and enjoyable by providing the most relevant information you would like to know while watching ITV’s programmes, meaning the TV becomes the main hub of entertainment and information in your living room,” commented Mihee Yoo, who is content and services manager for Smart TV at LG UK.

TheTake actually uses an example of a sweater on its web site. Perhaps this is a knowing reference to this long-standing interactive television concept. The illustration suggests a viewer asking about a sweater worn on screen, which is then identified with a link to purchase.

TheTake sweater

TheTake sweater

It is not entirely clear how artificial intelligence is used to link products to programmes, but Boots is hopeful that it will work for them.

TheTake says on its web site: “We trained our AI on millions of images from our proprietary, human-curated dataset of movies and shows. Our patent pending neural networks automatically generate shoppable metadata for your video, stored in TheTake’s database of over 250 million products.”

Hopefully they will be able to spot Boots lipstick, wherever it appears.

“Launching shoppable TV as part of our wider partnership with Love Island is a great way to help customers easily shop the products they spot in the villa and recreate iconic islander looks from the show,” said Pete Markey, the chief marketing officer for Boots UK. “It will simplify the customer journey and bring the Boots brand even closer to the Love Island audience.”

Ty Cooper, the co-founder and chief executive of TheTake said: “We look forward to helping ITV viewers discover and engage with the products that inspire them on the programmes that they love.”