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TikTok made me buy it: is 2022 the year of shoppable media?


By Sam Anderson, Network Editor

May 17, 2022 | 7 min read

Last year, ‘lipstick brother’ Li Jiaqi sold almost $2bn of products on China’s Singles’ Day. With the likes of TikTok running headlong into the shoppable space, the number of similar stories will only increase. Is this the year of shoppable media? And if it is, how can smart brands get involved? We asked five experts from The Drum Network.

A phone showing the TikTok app

Is 2022 the year of shoppable media? We asked five experts from The Drum Network / Solen Feyissa via Unsplash

Jack Beck, managing partner, performance, OMD UK

This will be the year social commerce reaches a critical mass on traditional platforms, with Meta and Twitter expected to launch live shopping later in the year, Snap going big on shoppable augmented reality (AR) and Google getting behind Discovery ads.

Outside China, livestream e-commerce is still in its infancy. There’s a first-mover advantage for western brands. It has huge potential for e-commerce and retail brands looking to combine personalized, physical retail experience with the efficiency of a digital purchase journey.

And tech such as Adimo, which enables users to complete an entire transaction within an ad unit across any part of a brand’s marketing footprint (rather than be taken to the vendor site), can create more frictionless customer experiences for brands that don’t yet have great end-to-end digital user experience (UX).

Winning in this space starts with knowing why you’re doing it, alongside having the infrastructure, resources and patience to get it right. It’s not for everyone – the same principle applies here as to advertisers wanting to partner with gaming platforms in the metaverse or rushing to TikTok for no other reason than FOMO.

Charlotte Leedham, marketing manager, Foolproof

One might argue that shoppable media is commodification gone mad, and that we must support the high street – but I often find myself lured back online, purely out of convenience.

Instagram and TikTok are paving the way. We are increasingly content-oriented, and they are the center of our universes – our news outlets, diaries and now shopping carts. Next, I still expect games to weigh in on social commerce a bit more, following Highsnobiety’s partnership with Nintendo. And the metaverse remains one to watch; Adidas recently teamed up with The Bored Ape Yacht Club to release a limited run of NFTs promoting a new product range. Twitter might resist the urge, but with Musk involved, who knows?

With 4.62 million social media users worldwide, brands must now think of their social feeds as shop fronts, not just an extension of the brand. It’s also time to prioritize what’s important to their customers as humans, like the planet. In this sense, the opportunity for platforms such as eBay and Depop is huge.

Tom Byrne, chief executive officer, RocketMill

We’re seeing the convergence of e-commerce and social commerce into what was once called f-commerce (commercialization of a friend-based social network), now better described as i-commerce (commercialization of influence). Consumer behavior is increasingly driven by social proof and the persona of the brand, as opposed to a traditional sponsorship model.

A shift from the persona endorsing the brand to the persona being the brand will continue the trend of fragmentation as more platforms continue to rise and fall based on new features and services.

The mindset of the marketer will change too, as corresponding measurement frameworks evolve.

Understanding the contribution of influence to consumers’ decision-making processes and value horizons will allow balanced decision-making across channels and clarity of their contribution, but it’s only by looking at total performance that brands can truly win in shoppable.

Failure runs a risk of running in circles from one glamorous option to another, and in the long run not getting very far at all.

Carly Johnson, vice-president and group director of strategy, North America, Momentum Worldwide

Shoppable media is a buzz-worthy topic that most of our brands are looking to get into. We’ve seen a dramatic acceleration this year, with brands such as Walmart investing in both social platforms and campaign strategies that enhance and simplify the act of buying.

The next couple of years will cement shoppable media as a brand-building strategy rather than a trendy tactic.

From a consumer vantage point, it’s beauty and fashion brands that have the most space to play in shoppable media but, in my opinion, it’s CPG brands that have the greatest opportunity to create differentiation. If done right, CPG brands stand to be incredibly successful in showing up in more places at the right moments for shoppers.

Lily Robertson Ward, media strategy director, Propellernet

Many 30-somethings will remember dreaming of Cher’s ‘technology’ wardrobe in the movie Clueless, being able to try an outfit before actually putting it on. Gen Z are living this dream, and brands can have a piece of the pie.

Through the lens of AR, anyone can ‘try on’ a new pair of trainers and then seamlessly go straight through to add to basket. They can ‘place’ a coffee table in their living room and even ‘try on’ make-up. Being on top of a tech offer that is authentic and true to your brand and audience is a must.

According to the latest data from Snapchat, 51% of gen Z are more likely to pay attention to an ad if it incorporates AR; ad recall is huge when AR is used. This allows brand affinity to grow and knit together with brand discovery into conversion.

Snapchat and its audience even see AR shoppable formats as reducing the impact of commerce on the environment.

AR ads are more personal, letting your audience into your brand. Passive viewers of advertising are turned into active participants. What could be better to harness the power of shoppable media?

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