Today, nearly 40 percent of the video content watched in the U.S. comes not from major media companies, but independent creators. However, understanding brand investment in this market is surprisingly hard, with few good tools to track creators’ audiences and mostly soft metrics to evaluate their impact. While live commerce doesn’t provide a perfect solution to this problem, it can go a long way to alleviating it, both in the short and long term.
To understand why, let’s start with the creator phenomenon. Across the internet, micro- and nano-influencers are building and maintaining strong connections to their communities, which take their recommendations seriously. Given the demographics, these creators should be brand magnets, ideal opportunities for companies to build enduring relationships with young consumers.
A handful of issues are getting in the way, however. The first is that the “economy” they're creating is surprisingly difficult to measure. Much of the action, for example, takes place on live streams, which are largely untrackable (sometimes creators even take screenshots and drop them into PDFs for some measure of accountability). At a time when digital platforms can target users based on the finest distinctions, such a primitive reporting system makes justifying investments difficult and has cooled the demand from brands.
A second issue lies in the nature of creators themselves: they're not salespeople. The more they try to promote products, in general the less effective they are. There's also an “air gap” between their content and the platforms where their audience can actually purchase products. If a creator makes a recommendation, the audience has to move to an entirely alien environment, like Amazon.com, to complete a purchase. Any time you have that level of disconnect, a lot can go wrong. Most people simply want to continue experiencing great content rather than leave for a warehouse.
Live or conversational commerce cannot solve every problem here, but it can do a lot of heavy lifting. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, live commerce connects people directly to a sales agent, usually over video. Users can then consider and complete a transaction without leaving the environment they started in.
For example, let’s imagine a creator is on Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube. She promotes a product, and rather than sending people off to Amazon, a widget drops them into a livestream session with a sales agent who understands the environment, can answer questions, and finally can complete a transaction. The experience is far less jarring and enables the audience to quickly get back to what it was doing before.
From a brand standpoint, the advantage of this is that it gives you a highly trackable understanding of what you’re getting out of your investment in the creator economy. Rather than looking at awareness metrics, you can tie an influencer experience directly to the number and value of transactions.
This isn't to say that live commerce can solve every problem with the creator economy. It’s still going to be difficult to ensure brand safety, understand customer lifetime value, and gather data on what works and what doesn’t. But we shouldn’t let the perfect be the enemy of the better. Any improvement in the current, flying-blind environment should be welcome. One day, a much improved system will exist for tracking and optimizing investments in this new space. Until then, live commerce can provide a useful bridge for brands trying to understand the creator economy and their investments in it.
Dragorad Knezi is the CEO and co-founder of eyezon, a provider of live shopping experiences on-demand.