Why Shoppable Ads Could Be the Next Big Thing in Influencer Marketing

Opinion: Shoppable ads for influencers could boost e-commerce by removing the clicks and steps it takes to go from content to commerce

Headshot of Kamiu Lee

Shoppable ads have soared in popularity over the past year and provided major headway in turning social media users into shoppers, enhancing the click-to-buy platform.

The trend has quickly made its way into nearly every major social media platform’s interface, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.

Most recently, a company called MikMak announced that it would be testing shoppable videos on Instagram Stories and Snap Ads, with links to e-commerce sites, making the click-to-buy experience all the more visual.

Influencer marketing is a fast-growing market for shoppable ads, as it’s increasing in popularity among brands and influencers alike. In fact, research from Bloglovin’ found that 63 percent of marketers have increased their budgets for influencer marketing campaigns this year, making the demand for shoppable ads even higher.

Currently, these ads are only available to brands, but as past trends show, it is likely that they will soon be available to influencers taking part in brand campaigns, as well, changing the growth, results and accountability of these operations.

Pressure on measuring ROI decreases with link tracking

Influencer marketing is a piece of a broader strategy and a relationship-building opportunity, and it should be seen as much more than a one-off initiative for returns. However, there is increasing pressure from brands to better measure return on investment from influencer marketing campaigns.

In this case, shoppable ads could provide a solution for this pressure. They could be a more efficient version of traditional affiliate marketing, which worked well for blogs in the past but has been difficult to accomplish on social platforms, where links are limited.

Although ROI shouldn’t be seen as an essential reason for conducting influencer marketing, shoppable ads would be an outlet to make it more measurable through link tracking.

Improving e-commerce with the emotional connection

Introducing shoppable ads for influencers could provide a huge boost in e-commerce by removing the clicks and steps it takes to go from content to commerce. With each click needed to find the product, a brand loses a huge percentage of potential buyers, so the faster the path to purchase, the better.

Influencer-curated content with a direct-to-shoppable link is also likely to drive better engagement than shoppable ads directly from the brand. This is particularly true on social, where the consumer expects and enjoys having a personal connection with the content, not feeling as though it’s purely a brand selling its product.

Influencers help to facilitate this bridge of emotional connection that provides for additional engagement. Consumers are also more likely to take a look at a brand or product if a trusted source is communicating the message.

Finally, these highly traceable links will result in more accountability for the influencer due to increased measurability. However, there will likely not be significant change in the strategy of how campaigns are executed due to this measurability, as influencers have proven to provide results for brands already—we would just now see the official numbers more clearly.

What shoppable ads could mean for the influencer ecosystem

Initiating shoppable ad options for influencers would be the holy grail of transforming simple browsing behavior into consumer buying.

Shoppable ads will add more clear performance metrics into the mix, potentially altering the payment structure of campaigns, so we can expect to see more price negotiations during collaborations between influencers and brands.

However, with the potential for so much positive change and a boost in buying, it may heighten the age-old friction between influencers and brands. Brands may want to ask for the influencers to promote more products, while influencers still need to consider the authenticity and organic voice in their content. The need for influencers to create organic content and stay true to their voice is something that will never change if they want to keep followers loyal.

Due to the increased advertorial nature of these shoppable ads, we can also expect Federal Trade Commission guidelines to continue to adapt, and the importance of complying with them to increase.

As influencers would be directly providing a trackable link to a product, thus encouraging purchasing and likely increasing e-commerce sales, it’s essential that they are open and honest in disclosing their paid promotions versus promoting products on their own accord.

Luckily, according to research from Bloglovin’, only one in three (31 percent) consumers found disclosures to feel inauthentic, while nearly two in three (59 percent) said content inconsistent with an influencer’s feed is what keeps them from engaging.

As long as the influencers’ posts feel genuine, influencers’ engagement on shoppable ads shouldn’t decrease due to increased necessity for disclosures.

Kamiu Lee is vice president of business development and strategy at influencer marketing platform Activate by Bloglovin’.

Image courtesy of grapestock/iStock.

Kamiu Lee is CEO at Activate.