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How shoppable video can unlock additional revenue for advertisers

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From hot-spotted product galleries to 360° virtual showrooms, Les Seifer, VP head of creative, and Nick Woodford, global content and engagement manager at Unruly/Tremor Video, explore the innovative possibilities of shoppable video for the IAB UK Guide to Digital Innovation.

Shoppable video - a format that allows consumers to interact with a video ad through a series of clickable signals that lead them through to a purchase - is quickly gaining momentum with brands.

In its survey of Direct to Consumer brands, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB US) found the number of brands that planned to integrate shoppable video into their ad strategies grew by 10% from 2018 to 2019. And, with brands seeking new ways to catch consumers’ attention at home during Covid-19, this is expected to rise significantly during 2020.

But what exactly is shoppable video and how are brands using it to stand out and drive consumers through to make a purchase?

What do shoppable video experiences look like?

A common misconception is that shoppable video is purely the process of adding clickable call-to-actions that allow users to make direct purchases. Although this is one of the more popular experiences that can be built, this is in no way all this format has to offer. Just as the user has different needs, brands and advertisers do too, and there are different avenues they can take to support the consumer in their journey.

Hyper-targeted, dynamic videos; hot-spotted product galleries; 360° virtual showrooms; location finders that can drive users to bricks-and-mortar store locations -- these are just some of the limitless forms shoppable video can take, all of which serve in creating a seamless shopping journey for the user.

It seems like shoppable video has been around forever, what’s changed?

Shoppable video is a term that has been thrown around for years, but 2020 looks to be the year where it becomes solidified as a necessary staple in digital realms.

Like many digital trends, Covid-19 is set to drastically speed up the growth of the shoppable video format as brands strive to catch homebound consumers’ attention and make the journey to purchase as fluid as possible in an already incredibly saturated online market.

Talking to The Guardian on how the pandemic is changing the face of video, editor-in-chief of video ad news, Vincent Flood, said: “Competition fuels innovation, and one of the areas where we can expect to see growth is in shoppable video, reducing the friction on the user journey between the point of engagement and the point of transaction.”

Which brands have seen success with shoppable video?

Shoppable video has traditionally been deeply rooted in fashion, with brands including Ted Baker, All Saints and ASOS having all run multiple shoppable video campaigns.

But we're also seeing its gradual adoption in several other industries, as brands begin to realise the impact putting the consumer in control has on brand metrics.

According to Net Solutions, merchants using shoppable video search results see an increase of 30% in conversion rates, and in the first week of Ted Baker’s shoppable video units being live on its site, it tracked $70,000 worth of clothing sales through the video.

Gone are the days of non-targeted pop-up advertising, consumers want to believe they are in control of what they purchase and the brands they spend their money with. This can be seen through the surge in popularity of shoppable Instagram ads, where consumers have a choice over what products they chose to find out more about. According to Adweek, 90 million Instagram users are tapping on posts every month to see which products are tagged.

Tailoring shopping experiences to audiences and devices

Shoppable video puts consumers back in control and allows them to click on what interests them.

This idea of putting the consumer in control is also a trend we’ve seen emerge in the entertainment industry. Last year, Netflix released an episode of its popular Black Mirror series that let the viewer choose how the story played out through several on-screen, interactive choices. Consumers have also become used to customised and highly-curated experiences on their personal devices -- from their news feeds to cooking, exercise or scheduling apps.

Additionally, with digital video’s ability to target specific audience segments in different environments comes opportunities to adjust creative in real-time for more relevant and optimal shopping experiences. Data-driven, dynamic video can enable advertisers to present only relevant products to consumers and optimise the shopping experience to the natural behaviours of whatever screen they are on.

Much like that Black Mirror episode, the interactive possibilities within digital ads on different screens presents endless possibilities for advertisers. Shoppable video can no longer be defined by one user experience. A shoppable ad within a CTV environment can raise awareness of brands and products -- and provide a QR code to continue the experience in the brand’s app on a mobile device. That same brand could also retarget TV viewers on their mobile devices, where utilising robust interactivity can drive purchases where shoppers are used to engaging and easy impulse buying.

What does the future hold?

As technical capabilities and consumer habits and behaviours evolve over time, so will shoppable video. Virtual and augmented reality technology presents exciting glimpses into a world where shopping from the comfort of home will feel as tactile and exciting as being in a store or showroom. In addition, digital ad serving in a cookie-less ad tech world will mean drawing upon first-party data, ripe for customising brand-specific and hyper-relevant shoppable executions.

The IAB’s Guide to Digital Innovation spans six chapters looking across a range of sectors and topics and is being released on a rolling weekly basis over the next 3 months. Don't forget to check back regularly for more insights into the latest advertising innovations.

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