Tap Into the Power of Social Commerce, Part 2
This three-part series on optimizing e-commerce marketing strategy started with an overview of how customer experience drives success for shoppable ads content, as well as how to build compelling ads that resonate with target audiences. Click here to read part one. Part two offers a deep dive into some of the most popular social networks to show how different the user experience can be across each platform.
Almost every social media platform has its own form of advertising, and not all of it is currently shoppable. However, the social shopping trend demands widespread shoppable ad functionality. Therefore, it’s imperative for e-commerce marketing leaders to become familiar with at least the heavy hitters in the shoppable ads game:
Instagram is the most effective social platform for influencer marketing, leveraged in roughly 93 percent of campaigns. Instagram Stories has seen utilization grow by 60 percent in the last quarter for creator campaigns, according to Marketing Land.
Instagram solidified its position as a leader in the shoppable ads space with a seamless buying experience that the user can complete without leaving the app. Clicking on the “buy now” link in an Instagram ad provides a pathway to the mobile product page on the seller’s website, where the buyer can complete their purchase, book an appointment, or redeem offers and discounts.
In the case of Amazon.com's shoppable ads that display on Instagram, clicking on a link takes the user right to Amazon’s mobile experience — even remembering the user’s Amazon sign-in preferences (e.g., not requiring an additional login step if the user already defined “stay signed in” as a preference). Instagram also provides the best use case of social shopping: users can save ads to review later, tag other users on ads posts, and share ads with users in their network.
Pinterest takes one of the things that makes Instagram great — emphasis on visuals over text — and takes it one step further with a visual search experience. Sixty-one percent of users make a purchase after seeing content on Pinterest.
Pinterest has really leaned into its branding strategy. “Pinners” are users, and shoppable ads are called “shoppable pins.” Pinners can save and send shoppable pins to other pinners in their networks. The platform also responds quickly to pinning habits, displaying ads for brands pinners click on more frequently in their feed immediately after interacting with a shoppable pin.
Google leverages its strength as the go-to search engine to promote products in image search with shoppable ads. The search engine's shoppable ads strategy might be a defensive game compared to the other leaders in the space, given how Amazon leapfrogged Google in product search in 2018. Google’s aim is to keep users engaged on its page as much as possible before handing off the click to the product page.
According to Search Engine Journal, retailers highlight multiple products within a single ad unit, which appear among Google Images results. Google’s shoppable ads appear in image search results with a “Sponsored” label as well as a price tag icon. Hover over the price tag icon to reveal the price of the item, along with the brand name and other information.
Google’s seamless user experience leads consumers to the product page and provides a similar shopping experience to Instagram’s shoppable ads. The search engine also provides the most complete experience among shoppable ads platforms, with product prices, seller sources and product ratings all visible within the ad, plus options for the user to customize their search and view their ad settings. Google is the only platform that allows the user to edit their ad settings without leaving the ad view in the platform.
This is a cross section of only a few shoppable ads platforms, chosen to demonstrate how different each platform can behave when delivering on the same task. Differences in user experience per platform start to show up when studying the friction points of shoppable ads.
Facebook’s shoppable ads share a near-perfect combination of the best of Instagram and Pinterest’s best qualities: mostly seamless routes to the product and visuals that take precedence over copy. The platform even displays showtimes for local screenings in shoppable ads for movie tickets. However, Facebook's sign-in experience for e-commerce platforms is hit or miss, with spotty delivery on sign-in preferences per website. Asking users to sign in again on an app they've already downloaded and signed into could be a discouraging experience — enough to convince the buyer that they don’t need that item after all.
In response to a question about being directed to another site for secondary verification while shopping, 47.4 percent of respondents said the requirement left them somewhat or very frustrated, according to a Signifyd consumer survey conducted by Survata.
Overall, most social media platforms conceal options to tailor ad preferences. The user interface to find these settings almost always requires the user to leave the ad and abandon the feed — the place where all the content action lives. It's possible for users to train artificial intelligence-driven systems on these platforms to understand their tastes better, but the process is slower and clunkier when dependent on browsing habits vs. the precision of allowing the user to manipulate parameters on their own.
Part three of this series takes a look at the future of shoppable ads, a medium that’s changing every day with new technologies reinventing the way we use our mobile devices and our favorite social media platforms. Click here to read part three.
Indy Guha is senior vice president of marketing and alliances at Signifyd, a fraud protection company.
Related story: Tap Into the Power of Social Commerce, Part 1