Great idea, a dream for commercial advertisers -- gives them a way to implement all sorts of impulse purchase / instant feedback on their message!
I think that's where television is headed: as technology is moving toward greater interactivity, that'll be one of the first things they'd want to implement. With interactive cable, I think it is just a matter of a relatively simple hardware update: your box 'knows' what channel is on, and each channel in turns knows what advertising 'inventory' it runs any given moment, so a simple time stamp (ie, a short message communicating the precise time somebody pressed a pre-programmed button on their remote) will identify requisite merchandise. I don't think you can go fully automatic with your order placement though: additional specificity is often required (number of items, size, etc.), plus the inevitable payment authorization (that might be dealt with in the fashion of Amazon.com's One-Click, ie your credit card details are stored somewhere in the system). That can be done by a follow-up call or some sort of online dialog (eg, a pop-up window, PIP, etc.). Does anyone know of any examples of actual implementations? I would imagine cable companies should be very keen on this, they could make an extra buck by charging advertisers a fee on every sale made with 'I Want It' button.
This functionality can also be extended: you can also implement all sorts of instant rating / instant voting solutions on scripted and unscripted content. Right now, the only metric channels and advertisers get from TV viewership is rating, which a very crude measure of what viewers think of programming. If you can go beyond that and entice viewers to provide additional feedback, somebody must be willing to pay for these extra data points, no? Somebody else wrote better on this here
The above solution will be specific to a cable system and rely on the interactive functionality modern DOCSIS technology provides. But the same effect can be achieved even on non-interactive content platforms (e.g. broadcast TV, outdoor, print). Instead of a TV remote, you'd use another ubiquitous gadget: a cell phone. A modern cell phone with a built-in camera is essentially a scanner that can scan pre-coded messages and connect you to the vendor's web portal, where you can find out more about the product or make an online purchase. One example (of many) of actual implementation: http://shotcode.com
This takes us into the realm of physical world hyperlinks, this whole blog
is dedicated to the subject.
You are definitely onto something!