CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application is continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 12/363,713, filed Jan. 30, 2009, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/024,829, filed Jan. 30, 2008, both of which applications are hereby incorporated herein by reference, in their entirety.
The invention relates generally to interactive media content distribution, and, more particularly, to the placement in a viral player of products associated with media content for interactive purchase.
Using conventional technology, e-commerce purchases are typically facilitated on the Internet by directing consumers to purchase products through specified websites. Specifically, a consumer on the Internet may be directed to a specific website via online advertising or sponsored links, where such websites describe specific products available for purchase, allow the consumer to choose a product for purchase, and direct the consumer to purchase the product through an e-commerce application from that website. Thus, one drawback with conventional technology is that it requires the consumer to navigate to a specific website to purchase a product, which can be time-consuming and discourage product purchases.
Furthermore, using conventional technology, products advertised on the Internet are traditionally advertised through banner advertising, “clickable” ads, sponsored links, or the like. Such advertising can range from static graphical images to rich media content, permitting the user to “click” on the ad and be redirected to a new web page (either in a new browser window or a new tab in the user's browser) to display the product, describe the product, and provide a mechanism to facilitate the purchase through an e-commerce application through that website. If a user is watching and/or listening to media content when the purchase is desired, then it can be very distracting to have to navigate to another web page to purchase the product and, when attempting to return to the media content, the user may potentially lose the media content or lose the place in the media content requiring that the media content be re-started, frustrating a user and discouraging future purchases, and further resulting in lost revenues and business.
Still further, with conventional technology, most product marketing on the Internet is achieved through banner advertising, “click-through” ads, or similar commercials run on a media player on a specific website. Although such ads can be placed on different websites through contractual arrangements with website owners and ad server networks, such ads are limited to specific areas designated for advertising on such websites, thereby limiting the scope of advertising to users who visit such specific websites, and further limiting such scope to the specific number of ad rolls associated with the traffic to such website or imposing other ad servicing provider limitations on the number of times such advertising for the product is presented on such websites, thereby restricting a user's opportunity to purchase the advertised product.
Therefore, what is needed is a system and method for facilitating e-commerce transactions without requiring that a consumer navigate to another website to engage in a transaction for the purchase of a product, without excessively distracting a consumer when watching and/or listening to media content, without limiting the marketing of a product through ads in specific areas designated for advertising on specific websites, without limiting the scope of advertising to users who visit such specific websites, and without limiting the marketing of a product to a specific number of ad rolls or other ad servicing provider limitations on the number of times advertising for products is presented on such websites.
The present invention, accordingly, permits a consumer to view a product in conjunction with a viral player, and to select the product for purchase within the player, rather than be redirected to a separate website. There is thus no longer a need to go to a specific website to purchase a product; the viral player acts as the vehicle to facilitate the “front-end” of the purchase.
Furthermore, products can be displayed in connection with specified content at the player level—the present invention brings the e-commerce “store” directly to the user, rather than directing the user to a specified website. Specifically, the player can run media content within the player frame, with associated products listed in a separate area of the player that the user can “click” on to facilitate the purchase through the e-commerce platform back-end. Essentially, the user is able to view and purchase a product within the player while watching or listening to media content, thereby bringing the ability to facilitate the sale of a product as part of the rich media experience.
Still further, products may be marketed “virally”, permitting content owners to monetize content. In accordance with the present invention, the syndicated e-commerce player is designed to be embeddable so that users can place it in emails to friends, on social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Google Buzz, Yelp, etc.), or other websites, thereby permitting the syndicated e-commerce player to be distributed virally on the Internet. As a result, the products that are listed in the syndicated e-commerce player can be marketed virally without such restrictions, directly to potential consumers who will be able to view or listen to the media content of the syndicated e-commerce player and immediately purchase the associated product(s) from within the syndicated e-commerce player without being redirected from the media experience.
In one preferred embodiment, the present invention achieves the aforementioned features in a method for facilitating the purchase of commercial products in connection with the display of media content, whereby a player comprises a media production component and an interactive e-commerce component embedded therein. The player with the e-commerce component can be virally copied and propagated from one web page to any number of other web pages.
In another preferred embodiment, a player frame is generated in a first web page. At least a first portion of the player frame is reserved for said media content, and at least a second portion of the player frame is reserved for an interactive e-commerce component. Code is embedded in the player frame for retrieving the media content and placing the media content in the first portion of said player, and code is embedded in the player frame for retrieving the interactive e-commerce component and placing the interactive e-commerce component in the second portion of the player. The player frame may then be virally copied and propagated from one web page to any number of other web pages.
A system for implementing the sale of a product in connection with the display of media content includes an enterprise nucleus, and one or more syndicated e-commerce applications coupled in data communication to the enterprise nucleus. The one or more syndicated e-commerce applications include an input terminal for facilitating entry of data by a user and an output terminal for communicating data to a user. An e-commerce platform is coupled in data communication to the enterprise nucleus for facilitating the purchase of products.
The system preferably includes at least one content distribution network (CDN) and at least one advertising network, both of which are coupled in data communication to the enterprise nucleus.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The enterprise nucleus of the system further preferably includes a computer having at least a processor and a memory operably coupled to the processor, the memory being configured for storing a computer program executable by the processor, the computer program being configured for performing steps of receiving from one of said one or more e-commerce applications a request for at least one of media, products, and offers, and for transmitting said request to at least one of said CDN and said advertising network; receiving from said at least one of said CDN and said advertising network said at least one of media, products, and offers and for transmitting said at least one of media, products, and offers to said one of said one or more e-commerce applications; receiving from said one of said one or more e-commerce applications a registration ID and a purchase order, and for transmitting said registration ID and a purchase order to said e-commerce platform; and for receiving from said e-commerce platform transaction data relating to said registration ID and a purchase order, and for transmitting said transaction data to said one of said one or more e-commerce applications.
For a more complete understanding of the present invention, and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following descriptions taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
FIG. 1 is a high level block diagram exemplifying data flow in an interactive product placement system embodying features of the present invention;
FIGS. 2 and 3 exemplify an interface application wireframe utilizing standard embed code for calling into remote online destinations;
FIG. 4 exemplifies a syndicated e-commerce interface application wireframe utilizing standard embed code into remote online destinations;
FIGS. 5 and 6 exemplify an implementation embodiment of a syndicated e-commerce interface application wireframe for implementing features of the invention;
FIG. 7 is a flow chart exemplifying logic utilized in the invention;
FIGS. 8-10 exemplify alternate embodiments of the system of FIG. 1.
In the following discussion, numerous specific details are set forth to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. However, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that the present invention may be practiced without such specific details. In other instances, well-known elements have been illustrated in schematic or block diagram form in order not to obscure the present invention in unnecessary detail. Additionally, for the most part, details concerning the Internet, HTML (including HTML5), HTTP, HTTPS, SWF, XML, PHP, Adobe Flash, FLV, and the like have been omitted inasmuch as such details are not considered necessary to obtain a complete understanding of the present invention, and are considered to be within the skills of persons of ordinary skill in the relevant art.
It is noted that, unless indicated otherwise, all functions described herein may be performed by a processor such as a microprocessor, a controller, a microcontroller, an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC), an electronic data processor, a computer, or the like, in accordance with code, such as program code, software, integrated circuits, and/or the like that are coded to perform such functions. Furthermore, it is considered that the design, development, and implementation details of all such code would be apparent to a person having ordinary skill in the art based upon a review of the present description of the invention.
Referring to FIG. 1 of the drawings, the reference numeral 100 generally designates an interactive content distribution system embodying features of the present invention. The system 100 includes an enterprise nucleus 102 configured as a hub for controlling all operations of the systems 100, discussed in further detail below. Coupled to the enterprise nucleus 102 are one or more syndicated e-commerce applications 104, a content management system (“CMS”) 106, advertising networks 108, and an e-commerce platform 110.
The syndicated e-commerce applications 104 coupled to the enterprise nucleus 102 include e-commerce applications 105 in which the end-users are not registered with the e-commerce platform 110 and e-commerce applications 107 in which the end-users are registered with the e-commerce platform 110. The syndicated e-commerce applications 105 and 107 include, by way of example but not limitation, mobile device applications for mobile devices (e.g., iPhone, smartphones running the Android operating system, portable gaming platforms such as Nintendo DS), social media applications (e.g., FaceBook, MySpace, Google Buzz), syndicated media player applications, syndicated store applications, applications written for game consoles (e.g., X-box, Playstation, Nintendo, Wii), Internet protocol television (“IPTV”), and any device and/or platform that would allow insertion of syndicated e-commerce applications and conduct the syndicated e-commerce process discussed below. Each of the unregistered e-commerce applications 105 are preferably coupled, either directly (e.g., cable, satellite, fiber optic) or via a communication network (e.g., the Internet, VPN, cellular communications network) 114, to a secure data decryption server (“SDDS”) 116, which SDDS is in turn coupled to the e-commerce platform 110, described in further detail below. Each of the registered e-commerce applications 107 are preferably coupled, either directly or via a communication network (e.g., the Internet, cellular communications network) 116, to the enterprise nucleus 102.
The CMS 106 includes an encoding server 120 coupled to the enterprise nucleus 102 and to a third party content distribution network (“CDN”) 121. The CDN 121 is preferably coupled to one or more edge servers 122, such as provided by Akamai, which provide an interface, via a communication network (e.g., the Internet) 124, between the CDN 124 and one or more content providers (not shown). Content provided by the CMS 106 includes, by way of example but not limitation, motion pictures, motion picture trailers, video, and audio.
The advertisement (“ad”) networks 108 include a third-party advertisement server 126 (e.g., Ad-Tech) coupled to the enterprise nucleus 102, and one or more ad networks 128 (e.g., AdMob, Tremor Media, and LC?). The ad networks 108 provide, by way of example but not limitation, products lists showing which products are associated or correlated with at least one item associated with or displayed in certain media, and other product information, such as pricing, availability, and the like.
The e-commerce platform 110 includes an enterprise e-commerce system 138 coupled to the enterprise nucleus 102. One or more payment gateways 140 (e.g., Paypal), accounting systems 142, and fulfillment centers 144 are coupled to the enterprise e-commerce system 138. One or more warehouse management systems 146 are connected to each fulfillment center 144. The enterprise e-commerce system 138 is further preferably coupled to the SDDS 116 for receiving registration application data from the e-commerce application 105.
FIG. 2 exemplifies a player frame 200 embodying features of the invention. The frame 200 preferably includes a header 202 and footer 204, as well as a number of sub-frames 206 sandwiched between the header and footer. The sub-frames 206 may be configured for displaying account information, categories, products, featured products, featured offer, a shopping cart, total charges, and additional links (e.g., About Us, Shipping, Returns, Privacy & Security, Conditions of Use, Contact Info, Gift Voucher FAQ).
FIG. 3 exemplifies an alternate embodiment of player frame with videocontent, advertisements, and an e-commerce component overlaid on the player frame, along with viral tools.
FIG. 4 exemplifies a player base frame 400 having an main frame 402, subframe 404 configured for a video production (not part of the base frame), and a subframe 406 configured for an e-commerce application (not part of the base frame). The player base frame 400 also includes embed code (not shown), such as HTML code, for retrieving media content from the CMS 106, ad content and a product list from the ad networks 108, and an e-commerce component of the player from the enterprise nucleus 102, as discussed in further detail below. The player base frame 400, with the embed code for retrieving media content, ad content, and an e-commerce component, may be virally copied and propagated from one web page to any number of other web pages on the Internet.
FIGS. 5 and 6 exemplify a player 500 built on the player base frame of FIG. 4. as it would be displayed, for example, on a computer monitor (not shown). The player 500 preferably includes media content (e.g., video, motion picture, audio) 502 presented within the subframe 404 (using, e.g., Flash encoding) and a syndicated e-commerce component in the subframe 504. The e-commerce component is configured to be an interface between a user and the e-commerce platform 110 and the SDDS 116 (discussed below with respect to steps 714-738 of FIG. 7), and is preferably built on custom encoding, and preferably includes a product list 504 (FIG. 5) and a media play list 506 (FIG. 6) integrated therein for use by a user. The product list 504 preferably displays products 508 that correspond to products being used in the media production 502, which products which may be selected for purchase through the interactive e-commerce component in the subframe 504. The media play list 506 preferably displays a number of media from which a user may select to view or listen to in the media production 502.
FIG. 7 depicts a flow chart 700 exemplifying one preferred embodiment for using the invention. In step 702, a user engages an e-commerce application 104, and in step 704, a user requests (e.g., via the media play list 506) media content (e.g., video, audio, game) with which to be presented. The e-commerce application 104 then generates a request for same along with associated products and product offers, and transmits the request to the enterprise nucleus 102 which forwards same to the CMS server 106 and ad server 108. In step 706, the CMS server 106 retrieves the requested media content and the ad server 108 retrieves ad content (i.e., products and product offers) associated with the media content. In step 708, the requested media content along with associated ad content is transmitted to the e-commerce application 104, and in step 710, same is received by the e-commerce application. In step 712, the media content is presented for display to the user via the media production window 502, and associated ad content is presented in the sub-frame 406.
While viewing the media content, if a user/viewer should see an item or product that the user/viewer would find desirable to have, then in step 714, the user/viewer may engage the e-commerce component 504 to place an order for the product. In step 716, a determination is made whether the user is registered with the e-commerce platform to order the product. If it is determined at step 716 that the user is registered, then execution proceeds to step 717 in which the e-commerce application 104 generates a message comprising the user's registration data and purchase order and forwards same to the e-commerce platform 110. If it is determined at step 716 that the user is not registered, then execution proceeds to step 718 in which the user is prompted to provide information to become registered to purchase the product. In step 720, the user's registration application data is encrypted and transmitted to a secure data decryption server (SDDS), and in step 722, the encrypted data is decrypted and forwarded to the e-commerce platform 110.
At step 724, the e-commerce platform receives the registration data and checks to determine whether the user has an existing account. In step 726, if the user has an existing account, then execution proceeds to step 730; otherwise, execution proceeds to step 728.
At step 728, the registration application data is processed and an account is setup in the name of the user, and execution proceeds to step 730. At step 730, payment for the product to be purchased is processed, and at step 732, a determination is made whether to post or deny the transaction. If the transaction is denied, a report of same is transmitted to the e-commerce application 104. If the transaction is posted, then in step 734 the fulfillment center 144 in conjunction with the warehouse management system 146 is instructed to fill the order and a report of same is transmitted to the e-commerce application 104.
In step 736, the e-commerce application 104 receives the report that the transaction was either denied or posted and presents same to the user, and the transaction is terminated at step 738. At step 740, the user resumes viewing or listening to the mediacontent.
It is understood that the present invention may take many forms and embodiments. Accordingly, several variations may be made in the foregoing without departing from the spirit or the scope of the invention. For example, FIG. 8 shows a system 800 in which the third party ad server 130 may be coupled directly to the third party CDN; FIG. 9 shows a system 900 in which the third party ad server 130 may be coupled directly to the CMS edge servers 122; and FIG. 10 shows a system 1000 in which the third party ad server 130 may be coupled in any combination of ways depicted by FIGS. 1, 8, and 9, and in particular, directly to the enterprise nucleus 102 and CMS edge servers 122.
Having thus described the present invention by reference to certain of its preferred embodiments, it is noted that the embodiments disclosed are illustrative rather than limiting in nature and that a wide range of variations, modifications, changes, and substitutions are contemplated in the foregoing disclosure and, in some instances, some features of the present invention may be employed without a corresponding use of the other features. Many such variations and modifications may be considered obvious and desirable by those skilled in the art based upon a review of the foregoing description of preferred embodiments. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the appended claims be construed broadly and in a manner consistent with the scope of the invention.