October 14, 2002, 12:00 AM

Stronger links from content to related products boost sales at ShopPBS.com

Initially holding commerce at arm’s length, PBS finds that viewers see more direct linkage of content to product as a customer service.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor


The web now accounts for 32% of revenue from PBS’s direct marketing business in a carefully crafted e-commerce strategy that draws PBS viewers from TV programs to PBS’s content site and finally to related products, PBS e-commerce director Royce West tells Internet Retailer. Pathway analysis shows that the overwhelming number of visitors come to ShopPBS.com, PBS’s commerce site, only after visiting content site PBS.org first.

“Nine times out of ten, a TV program is the user’s first interaction with any material PBS offers. From there, they go to the content site to investigate more, then after that they have the opportunity to buy,” West says. For that reason, after initially keeping commerce and content at arm’s length, PBS more recently has improved linkage from content to related books, videos and DVDs on ShopPBS.com.

“In the beginning PBS.org wanted to make a distinction between content and commerce. It was thought that adding commerce would somehow cheapen the content experience,” West says. But experience has proven the reverse. “We found that people don’t think of adding commence to content as cheapening the content, but as offering an added service to the customer,” West says. “By integrating the content much more closely with opportunities to buy products, customers see it as providing better context.”

In addition to revenues from sales of merchandise on the web, catalog sales contributed 47% of revenues and on-air offers 21% for PBS’s direct marketing business. In all, e-commerce represents about 19% of consumer product sales at PBS, which include both B2C and B2B sales.



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