man holding remote frustrated by qr code ad

The Shoppable Struggle: Why Interactive TV Ads Aren’t Clicking (Yet)

Shoppable TV ads burst onto the scene promising a seamless blend of entertainment and e-commerce. Imagine: being captivated by a stunning new jacket featured in your favorite show and buying it with a simple click of your remote. No more frantic Googling, no more digging through websites. The future of shopping, delivered right to your living room.

While the concept holds immense potential, the reality is proving to be a bit more complicated. Shoppable TV ads, despite their promise, are facing a significant hurdle: us, the viewers. We’re hesitant, and for good reason. The current execution of shoppable TV ads simply isn’t hitting the mark, creating a disconnect between the allure of instant gratification and the reality of clunky user experience.

The struggle boils down to two primary approaches, both with their own set of drawbacks:

  1. The Remote Control Roadblock: Many shoppable ads rely on using your TV remote to navigate clunky on-screen menus. This method, while seemingly straightforward, disrupts the viewing experience. Wrestling with multiple buttons to enter payment information while trying to follow the plot of your show is a recipe for frustration, not a seamless shopping experience.
  2. The QR Code Conundrum: The alternative? Pulling out your phone, aiming your camera at a fleeting QR code, and waiting for the relevant website to load. While QR codes have seen a resurgence in recent years, their implementation in shoppable TV ads feels jarring. It forces viewers to disengage from the content they’re enjoying, creating friction in a process that should be frictionless.
denim clothing ad on TV with qr code scanned by phone

Uniqode Shoppable Ad Example


These methods highlight a fundamental disconnect between the aspiration and the execution of shoppable TV ads. Instead of enhancing the viewing experience, they interrupt it, leaving viewers frustrated and less likely to engage in the future.

Just this month I had a rep from one of the worlds biggest retailers bemoaning to me the (valid) question posed to him from his biggest supplier to justify their connected TV ad co-spends “Show me the data… How do I know I’m getting return on my ad spend with you?”

So, what’s the solution? How can we bridge the gap between the promise of shoppable TV and the reality of user experience? Here are a few ideas:

  • Seamless Integration: Shoppable TV ads need to be organically woven into the viewing experience, not jarring interruptions. Imagine subtle prompts appearing as a product catches your eye, offering the option to learn more with a simple voice command or a single button press on your remote.
  • Personalized Recommendations: Instead of generic product placements, imagine receiving personalized recommendations based on your viewing habits and preferences. Or even dynamic on-screen ads that build off your interactions. This level of customization would make the shopping experience feel more relevant and less intrusive.
  • Enhanced Functionality: The technology needs to catch up with the ambition. Voice control, intuitive interfaces, and streamlined payment options are crucial for creating a truly seamless experience.

The potential of shoppable TV ads remains undeniable. The ability to instantly purchase what you see on screen holds immense appeal for both consumers and advertisers. There are companies out there making awesome strides such as Prime Video and Melbourne-based ad-tech provider Vudoo with their shop anywhere ads. However, to truly unlock this potential, the focus needs to shift from simply inserting shoppable elements into existing ad formats to creating a truly integrated and user-friendly experience.

Until then, the shoppable struggle will likely continue. Viewers will remain hesitant, and the promise of a seamless fusion between entertainment and e-commerce will remain unfulfilled. The key to success lies in understanding that shoppable TV isn’t just about adding a “buy now” button; it’s about creating a holistic and enjoyable experience that complements, rather than disrupts, the way we consume content. is the connective tissue that bridges the gap between the TV and the couch giving viewers and advertisers what they want, simplicity and delight and quantifiable return on ad spend respectively. It’s time to ditch the outdated and clunky TV remote and the QR code and connect viewers’ phones (where they are conditioned to engage) directly to their TV content.

about the author

James is the co-founder of

With over 20 years experience in advertising, marketing and strategy, he’s the first to bring a brand’s perspective into the room and incessantly championing the “why” of everything we do at allt.