“Are we just making ads shoppable? Is it just an affiliate link? Do you link out to our website? Can the order only take place in the video? Where does the order go? Can we tag multiple products? What products should we tag? What type of videos should be tagged with products? How do we know when an order has been placed? Who creates the content? Do we have to?”
These are some of the questions that come up while discussing shoppable video potentialities with brands. To be honest, it's hard to understand or grasp the potential of video shopping by simply looking at current social, video and commerce players today. Most of the time the platform’s feel and overtone has already been solidified before a commercial or video play is added, and it’s always a sort of chicken-or-the-egg problem. What comes first? Social network, video or commerce?
Above all, commercial and e-commerce initiatives are almost always dropped on top of a heavy already-existing (oversaturated) programmatic ad play, thus limiting the social & video shopping experience to the confines of digital advertising’s models and UX. Additionally, in order to maintain existing business models and big clients happy, shoppable video and social shopping features are made available to the advertisers, keeping regular users and communities at the consumption side of the transaction.
Consumers, especially younger ones, see these moves as another step towards over-commercialization. If influencers are adding link in bios, social networks are feeding us tiled screens with promoted products and brands are paying for hashtags, is there even an attempt at being organic anymore? A solution to this could be to build an ecosystem where media and commerce evolve synergistically at all times. Commerce is just another moving piece of the social media flywheel similar to commenting, posting, creating a channel or tagging a user. Wouldn’t this democratization of e-commerce engage the communities that represent brands so well by allowing them to become advertisers and sellers? Some might call this decentralizing advertising.
There is no doubt that video sells. All types of video formats sell. This was true back in the 80’s with TV networks like QVC (perhaps the grandfather of D2C brands) and HSN, and is true today with their transformations into companies like NTWRK, PopShopLive and Down to Shop. Moreover, consumers love to shop from each as seen in popular apps like Depop, Goat, and the reseller behemoth, eBay. The pandemic brought about a massive change to the ecommerce status quo, accelerating growth by 4-6 years in just a matter of months. By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic and today 62% of consumers said they were more interested in a product after seeing it in a Story. But still, the mentality around shoppable video still seems like a one way street. Advertisers create the content, and users buy from the content. While video works, brands might have a hard time staying up to speed with video consumption demands. Producing content is expensive.
Some e-commerce realists might claim that adoption for shoppable video was slow at first. This is certainly true, especially agencies like Econsultancy, which pointed to the fact that “we have yet to see widespread adoption” of shoppable video because marketers “have trouble quantifying the return on investment,” and the production agency or studio is “challenging to produce at scale.”
I believe these growing pains weren’t so much due to UX or educational problems (although UX does play a very important role) but more because of deep rooted differences between the commerce and advertising worlds. Paying for a slice of a publisher or creator’s audience attention could be a great branding play, but does that attention result in conversions? Also, how do you quantify and pay for that attention/conversion when the ones doing the most selling are the end customers themselves.
There are certainly a lot of brands out there that have the deep pockets to make these branding strategies work. But in order to avoid over-selling and hyper-commercialization, especially to the new generations that are so sensitive to advertising, why not use shoppable video as a way to engage and activate community-driven selling and promotion. That’s not just the brand’s influencer and creator community, but allowing everyone that represents that brand in some way or another to create content and tag products. A company is only as strong as its brand, and that brand is best built through loyal brand enthusiasts. Therefore, advertising through customers instead of to them remains the most potent for growth.
The future of work coincides with digital technology enabling everyone to earn a livelihood in a way that highlights their individuality and creativity. As we graduate beyond programmatic advertising and intent-driven models of e-commerce, and as word-of-mouth continues to be one most persuasive marketing channels across all industries, there are opportunities to bring advertising and real world social consumer habits (going shopping) to the hands and cameras of end customers.
Download .show to start earning money creating, sharing and shopping from each other’s videos. Apply to become a seller and get $500 in store credit once approved to sell.