The State of Shoppable Media in 2017 and Its Future in the Coming Year

Opinion: 2018 will see more marketers monetizing AR capabilities while putting VR on the back burner

Shoppable media gives brands the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with the consumer

With technology advancing each day, there’s no shortage of ways for retail advertisers to promote their product or service. And one form of content known as shoppable media is quickly gaining traction in the retail space.

Shoppable content—which traditionally takes the form of pictures or videos—quickly and thoroughly educates a shopper while streamlining the path to purchase. Consumers click on a featured product within a shoppable post or video that they’re interested in, and they are sent directly to a page where they can make their purchase, hassle-free.

As this advertising and marketing method continues to prove its potential for monetization, more brands are discovering how it can disrupt the retail industry.

Here’s a look at where shoppable media is now and where it’s heading as we transition into the new year.

Where are we now? Shoppable media in 2017

By providing a user-friendly experience that makes the purchasing process easier, shoppable media gives brands the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with the consumer.

Retailers know that people are increasingly turning to social media to discover new products, with 74 percent of shoppers using social media to inform their purchase decisions in 2017. So, it’s not surprising that Instagram—which attracts 800 million monthly users—is currently the most popular option for brands to implement shoppable media.

Since millennials and Generation Z spend so much time interacting with videos and images on social media, shoppable ads are one of the best ways to introduce them to new brands. By allowing them to buy a product seconds after discovering it, retailers increase the likelihood that they’ll make a purchase.

Several companies took the plunge into shoppable media this year thanks to Instagram’s new shoppable posts feature, which was made available to 20 U.S. retailers like Warby Parker, Jackthreads, Kate Spade, Shopify and more. In fact, during the test period prior to rollout, Instagram saw that on average, 19 percent of people who tapped to reveal the product info on a shoppable post then clicked the link to the brand’s site.

While shoppable ads have largely proliferated on social media thanks to Instagram (and, to a lesser extent, Snapchat and Pinterest), there are also brands that produce long-form video ads with shoppable tags that can be clicked and converted into a purchase.

U.K.-based Ted Baker has been experimenting with the format for the past four years. The company sees its shoppable videos as a long-term investment in technology that streamlines the purchasing process for customers through an immersive approach before they ever get to the buy button.

The continued evolution of shoppable media in 2018

All indicators suggest that shoppable media will continue to evolve in the new year. But how? Here’s a look:

Ephemeral content made shoppable: Instagram has already proven its worth in the shoppable media space. However, next year will be Snapchat’s time to shine. The company has made its name on ephemeral content, which is typically shared for about 24 hours before disappearing. With more than 10 billion daily video views, it’s difficult to ignore Snapchat’s potential for shoppable ads in the new year.

By merging the streamlined buying process of shoppable ads with the finite time frame of ephemeral content, marketers will take advantage of consumer paranoia of missing the next great deal to elicit faster buying responses.

And with so many social platforms offering the option of stories, marketers will begin creating more intimate, story-driven content that connects with users and capitalizes on their sense of urgency to make a purchase.

Augmented reality made shoppable: We’ll undoubtedly see more investment in shoppable content via AR, due in part to better graphical capabilities and AR integration in next gen phones. Ikea’s new Place application is an early example. It projects products into users’ homes, allowing them to see the products in context and giving them a simple way to make purchases on the spot.

2018 will see more marketers monetizing AR capabilities for shoppable content on mobile, while putting virtual reality on the back burner. Thanks to Apple’s new ARkit development platform, more retailers will take pages out of Ikea’s playbook through native app development or the creation of branded filters for social networks.

For example, Snapchat recently announced that it’s opening its 3-D World Lenses to advertisers, meaning that next year will bring a flood of sponsored dancing-hot-dog-type filters. And all will likely be used to create interactive experiences meant to drive purchase intent.

More investment in shoppable video: Next year, marketers will also dump more money into maturing shoppable video as a viable format for monetization. While static ads on social media have already proven scalable for driving purchase intent, video remains a question. That said, projections have mobile video ad spend reaching $18 billion in 2018. And since consumers are over 27 times more likely to click on a video ad, it’d be crazy to count video out of the equation in the new year.

Amazon is already taking notice with recent job posts for its Amazon Live venture, which will “build interactive streaming experiences that create new shopping opportunities for customers.” Amazon’s involvement means that it’s only a matter of time before other retailers begin scrambling to keep up.

As technology continues to evolve, so will the customer experience with shoppable ads. And while we’ve only scratched the surface of shoppable media’s potential, there’s no question that its presence will only continue to grow next year and beyond.

Doug Baldasare is CEO of ChargeItSpot, a manufacturer of cell-phone-charging stations for stores and shopping centers.

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