Social media platforms and ecommerce are a perfect match, particularly during a time when social media usage is increasing and consumers are shopping online more. Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are creating more ways for consumers to buy as they scroll through their feeds and watch videos, and brands are taking advantage of these improved customer acquisition opportunities and changing consumer behaviors. Similarly, Google has recently added several updates to increase their presence in the ecommerce marketplace.
Facebook And Instagram Shops Create Places For Brands To Sell Directly From The Social Media Platforms
Facebook Shops and Instagram Shop were recently rolled out to make shopping directly from the social media platforms easier and more turnkey. Facebook launched “Shops” in May with nearly a million businesses on the platform. At launch, Facebook explained, “People can find Facebook Shops on a business’ Facebook Page or Instagram profile, or discover them through stories or ads. From there, you can browse the full collection, save products you’re interested in and place an order — either on the business’ website or without leaving the app.”
Currently, the Instagram Shop lives in the Discover tab, but will eventually become its own shopping destination on Instagram, with brands able to personalize for users and offer recommendations. The addition of Instagram recommendations is similar to Pinterest’s integration of “shopping spotlights,” which feature products selected by influencers and highlights current trends, all directly shoppable from Pinterest.
Facebook has also teased the integration of shopping with live videos in the new shops, which will allow brands to create livestreams and promote products from their “storefronts.” However, a hard launch date for this feature has not been announced. “[Shops] is the biggest step that we’ve taken yet to enable commerce across our family of apps,” said Dan Levy, VP of Ads and Business Platform at Facebook, in May.
YouTube Direct Response Ads Debut, And Brands Find Quick Success
YouTube recently introduced a “Direct Response” ad format that allows shoppers to buy directly from YouTube. “Shop now” buttons with clickable product images appear below brands’ video ads, allowing users to be taken directly to websites where they can make purchases. For big ticket items or services, advertisers have the option of adding lead forms to their ad campaigns. According to Mobile Marketer, “Carmaker Jeep tested the format in South Korea and boosted completed leads by 13 times at an 84% percent lower cost per lead.”
Insiders see the move from YouTube as part of Google’s ongoing strategy to be more competitive in ecommerce, particularly since YouTube is a major source of sales growth for Google, with a 33% jump in ad sales during Q1. For brands, the flexibility of YouTube’s direct response ads, and the available reporting, makes them a good fit especially for direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands and for brands launching new products.
Snapchat has also found success with direct response ads, recently expanding their Dynamic Ads offering worldwide. According to TechCrunch, direct response advertising “now represents more than half Snap’s revenue.”
Google Creates More Opportunities For Brands Of Every Size With Promotion Of Free Retailer Listings
In other ecommerce news outside of social media platforms, Google has recently announced several changes to Google shopping and how Google Search displays products returned in searches. These ecommerce-focused updates by the tech giant — in addition to the direct response ads on YouTube — are part of Google’s effort to become a competitive force in ecommerce, particularly against brands like Amazon.
Google is in the process of a roll out that will replace paid ads in the product knowledge panel with free product listings when users perform shopping searches. This is the latest change to Google’s shopping functions, and the second inclusive of merchants who may not be advertisers. Google is touting this strategy as a democratizing step toward making advertising accessible for retailers big and small. Additionally, by offering more in-search shopping opportunities, Google may be able to keep consumers in Google and away from other ecommerce competitors.
The online shopping habits of consumers have been shifting and evolving as long as the internet has had a “buy now” button, but the recent quarantines have accelerated consumer preference, and need, for online shopping. Social media platforms and other tech entities are responding by creating opportunities for brands to deploy strategic marketing around ecommerce that will help brands survive during the current global crises, and thrive in the new normal.
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