Shoppable AR Transforms eCommerce

Shoppable AR Transforms eCommerce

This article has been written by David Roter, VP Global Agency and Brand Partnerships, Snap Inc. and Heather O'Shea, Marketing Science Lead, Snap Inc.   Augmented reality (AR) is redefining the future of shopping and brand experiences. It empowers people to experience brands and products up close without needing to go to a store, enabling the ability to comfortably “try before you buy” and comparison shop with ease. For brands, AR is an incredibly powerful tool and helps solve business challenges — from reducing return rates to increasing loyalty with immersive experiences — AR unlocks avenues to reach potential customers far beyond traditional eCommerce offerings. The ongoing rise of smartphone ownership and camera usage enhances the impact of augmented reality for brands. Helen Papagiannis, the author of Augmented Human, details these trends in an article published in Harvard Business Review [1] . Her conclusion is that “AR has proven that it can add enormous value for consumers in the shopping journey”. Over the past year, Snapchat has been experimenting with Shoppable AR formats and evaluating the role of augmented reality as a performance channel, going beyond entertainment and fun to a true utility that drives business results. Our findings outline the immense opportunity for brands to amplify their eCommerce strategy and equip their business for these consumer habits of the future.   Augmented reality is truly a full-funnel format. Brands leverage AR on Snapchat to enable conversation about their brand, invite people into an immersive experience, facilitate product try-on and in-home-visualization, and activate useful formats for education. As such, we’ve found that augmented reality delivers full funnel performance. Through a global meta-analysis with research firm Kantar, we identified that when Snapchat CPG campaigns include an AR Lens, they drive 2.5x growth in ad awareness and 1.1x lift in action intent compared to Kantar's global CPG market norms benchmarks[2]. This trend holds true for the retail category as well - when Snapchat retail campaigns include an AR Lens, they drive 2x growth in ad awareness and 2x lift in action intent compared to Kantar's global retail market norms benchmarks [3]. Beyond brand lift, augmented reality campaigns also deliver significant ROI. In the US, Snap partnered with NCSolutions to analyze over 2 years of Snapchat CPG campaigns. We learned that campaigns that include AR Lenses demonstrated a 46% higher lift in penetration on average compared to campaigns without Lenses and drove 14% more incremental sales [4]. This inflated growth of incremental sales indicates that highly engaging branded AR experiences can convert users more quickly than traditional media formats.   Augmented reality is also gaining ground as the future of product trial and try-on. Nearly 200 million Snapchatters engage with AR every day [5], and 46% have used AR or VR as a virtual shopping tool. And interest continues to climb - nearly 8 in 10 are interested in visualizing products in the space around them as a way to enhance their shopping experiences [6]. We’ve built a behavior of daily AR use in the Snapchat camera, and consumers are ready to fully embrace this technology as a part of how they shop and compare products.   In 2020, we began deeper testing of Shoppable AR formats as we recognized a desire for our audience to interact with brands while safely staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We partnered with select advertisers, including dentsu clients, to test these formats over Q3 and Q4 of 2020. We developed tools like SnapML that offer users the ability to try on products such as shoes, sunglasses and makeup directly within Snapchat’s camera and seamlessly make a transaction if they like what they see. These immersive experiences have delivered outsized results for participating advertisers. 9 out of 10 of these campaigns drove an increase in ad awareness [7], and because of the immersive experiences the camera allows for, we’ve seen these Product Experience Lens campaigns were 2x as likely to drive Intent lift than Snapchat Q3-Q4 Norms [8].   Notably, dentsu partnered with Snapchat for two recent best-in-class shoppable AR campaigns. Gucci embarked on their first-ever global AR shoe “try-on” campaign, using SnapML technology to let Snapchatters virtually try on Gucci shoes. After seeing how they looked in the brand’s latest sneakers, Snapchatters were able to purchase the shoes directly from the Lens via a “Shop Now” button, generating positive ROAS as a result [9]. Using their Business Profile as their virtual storefront, Dior (LVMH) launched several new Lenses for their B27 sneaker launch that delivered 3.8X ROAS for their overall campaign [10]. Augmented reality is no longer simply an experiment. For many marketers, it’s becoming a core element of their eCommerce strategy. The wide variety of AR formats can be activated to achieve marketing objectives throughout the funnel, and as more consumers seek out AR shopping experiences, brands have an opportunity to own shoppable innovation within their category with a high rate of proven success. Platforms like Snapchat are best positioned to help retailers tap into this powerful new format. We have a highly engaged audience of 265 million daily active users [11], nearly 200 million of which engage with AR on a daily basis [12]. We’ve evolved our AR products to address utility and commerce in response to consumer needs and we make it easy for advertisers to build creative through our best-in-class creative strategy team and free turnkey products like Lens web builder. This brings newfound opportunities for brands to cut-through the clutter and achieve growth while future-proofing their approach to eCommerce.     [1] Source: Helen Papagiannis, “How AR is redefining retail in the pandemic”, Harvard Business Review, October 2020 [2] Source: Kantar Snapchat CPG campaign brand lift meta-analysis commissioned by Snap, Inc., February 2021 [3] Source: Kantar Snapchat Retail campaign brand lift meta-analysis commissioned by Snap, Inc., February 2021 [4] Source: NCSolutions CPG Reaction studies Q1 2017 - Q4 2019 [5] Source: Snap Inc. Internal data Q1 2020. See Snap Inc. public filings with the SEC. [6] Source: Alter Agents study commissioned by Snap, Inc.; May 2020 [7] Source: Snap Inc. internal data as of February 2021 [8] Source: Snap Inc. internal data as of February 2021 [9] Snap Inc. internal data June 28-August 17, 2020 [10] Source: Data from Snap Ads Manager as of October 29 - December 20, 2020. Lookback window: 28 days post-swipe, 1 day post-view. [11] Source: Snap Inc. internal data Q4 2020 vs. Q4 2019. See Snap Inc. public filings with the SEC. [12] Source: Snap Inc. Internal data Q1 2020. See Snap Inc. public filings with the SEC.     0

6 mins read

RELAUNCH OF iPROSPECT

RELAUNCH OF iProspect

Canada, March 17th - Dentsu has relaunched iProspect following its merger with Vizeum in January, but even though the Vizeum name has disappeared, its capabilities are being used to crate a new digital-first, end-to-end media model. Dan Kalinski, CEO of iProspect in Canada, says the agency has a lofty ambition – to be the first media agency to offer “performance-driven brand building at a global scale…born at the intersection of where the science of performance marketing and the art of brand building come together.” “After 25 years of sustained global growth, we felt we needed to reinvent for the next chapter and broaden the scope,” he says. iProspect’s legacy in digital and performance legacy has had Vizeum’s broadcast and consumer planning expertise added to create an end-to-end agency that is focused on performance every step of the way. “The traditional distinction between lower and upper funnel marketing is no longer helpful in an omnichannel world, as all brand interactions can lead to purchase.” Kalinski adds that the agency believes the model in Canada will be an evolution of that vision. Canada is a top ten market for the Dentsu network, he says, and there are ambitious plans for its growth. Last year, one of its strongest ever, included uniting its Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal teams to better integrate the agency’s offering. He says the new iProspect is leaning deeply into new technology and performance transformation. “Our model is to help clients scale that up, sustain performance, and deliver incremental value. It is both what we do and how we do it that helps differentiate our offering, plus some of the smartest people in the industry work with us.” To facilitate the new focus, iProspect is continuing to add talent and capabilities in line with the growing scope of the business. “Performance marketing requires a razor-sharp skill set that is rooted in knowledge, agility, and an understanding of what is possible, and how to deliver exponential growth,” Kalinski says. “Our ability to offer end-to-end capabilities is critical.” Published in Media in Canada 0

2 mins read

SOCIETAL RESPONSIBILITY IS THE BRAND KINGMAKER IN 2021

SOCIETAL RESPONSIBILITY IS THE BRAND KINGMAKER IN 2021

Climate crisis, social justice, privacy rights… as people’s expectations change and consumer scrutiny increases, companies must adapt to societal evolutions if they are to remain relevant and grow. Being the closest ones to consumers and the ones responsible for driving brand response, marketers have a critical role in promoting a societal agenda within the organisation – uncovering new growth opportunities at the intersection of marketing and society.   The new reality for brands People are increasingly questioning their own consumption decisions, not only asking themselves, “What is best for my wallet?” but also, “What is fair for all parties involved?” There is an increasing public consciousness about the power people can have on brands, and about the ability of brands to effect positive change through their marketing dollars. In light of these societal changes, some brands have doubled down towards social consciousness, some have ‘dipped their toes’ in using their media budgets as ways of influence, and others have so far kept a distance to avoid becoming embroiled in an increasingly polarized conversation. But this later stance is quickly becoming untenable, as scrutiny increases from consumers and employees who do not hesitate to publicly call out internal communications that contradict their own beliefs.   The practical guide to societal responsibility There is no secret recipe for brands to become socially irreproachable overnight. However, there are some key considerations to drastically improve their societal impact.  Bring it to the top of your agenda. Too often, we see societal priorities wrongfully depicted as a thorn in the side of business conduct, whereas they are generators of economic value. Drive change from the inside out. Consumers and employees are two sides of the same coin. If you want to be relevant to diverse audiences, you need to see this diversity in your organisation, and empower these multiple voices. Use empathy as your guiding principle. Real change requires true self-awareness and empathy. It’s okay to not get everything right if you are genuine in your intent. It is a beneficial journey that brands need to take as they become more responsible. Be both ambitious and meticulous. The path to responsibility requires an ambitious strategy, yet one broken down into concrete steps that enable incremental changes all along the journey. A clear framework to measure progress is critical. Communicate with openness and authenticity. Document your journey and how you measure your efforts in a very genuine and transparent fashion – including the shortcomings you face. It is an excellent way to build consumer trust.   The critical role of media There is clear added value in using simple and accessible communications to help overwhelmed consumers sort through the apparent complexity of societal topics. For instance, combining convenience and transparency is a great way to empower people to shop sustainably, as illustrated by the Farmer Connect app that helps consumers easily trace the origin of their coffee.[i] From a content perspective, brands can provide an open platform to connect with users and influencers on topics such as inclusivity by sharing stories, inspiration and experiences. It’s not only about showing what the brand does well, but about recognising that good ideas can come from anywhere by giving them a voice. The good news for brands is that they are not alone on this path toward becoming more responsible selves. For instance, dentsu, iProspect’s parent company, pilots DIMPACT, a pioneering tool to manage the media industry’s digital carbon footprint. The DIMPACT web-based tool, created in collaboration with the University of Bristol, calculates the greenhouse gas emissions associated with serving media content, and can therefore be used to help advertisers select lower carbon alternatives as part of their digital media strategy. - Marketing has always been about understanding people to deliver the most valuable product and service to them. In an age where people’s rising expectations around inclusivity, privacy, sustainability and transparency intersect with their consumption choices, embedding societal considerations in the company’s strategy is not a distraction to business conduct. It is the essence of marketing – the most powerful growth vector for organisations, today and tomorrow.   [i] Farmer Connect website, as accessed on Feb 26, 2020 - link   Content 0

4 mins read

dentsu bolsters global media offering by bringing together iProspect and Vizeum brands to form future-focused iProspect brand globally

dentsu bolsters global media offering by bringing together iProspect and Vizeum brands to form future-focused iProspect brand globally

London, Jan 12th - dentsu today confirmed its intent to integrate iProspect and Vizeum to create a new, future-focused, end-to-end global media agency under the iProspect banner. By integrating these two award winning agencies, dentsu brings Vizeum’s media strategy and planning, storytelling, and brand building capabilities together with iProspect’s digital expertise, audience knowledge, and performance mindset. Clients will have access to the unique capabilities of both agencies, all from one integrated team leading the new territory of performance-driven brand building by delivering digital-first media strategies underpinned by data and technology at every touchpoint in the consumer journey. The new iProspect media agency will draw from the broader dentsu capability set, allowing clients the flexibility to seamlessly build bespoke and specialised teams with resources from across the network. Clients will gain access to expansive new audience insights, integrated and more effective strategies, market-leading planning and activation, and unparalleled business performance. Carat and dentsu X clients will continue to access industry leading digital performance services through our dentsu Media Scaled Services. The new iProspect entity will be led by Global President Amanda Morrissey, bringing together more than 8,000 media and performance specialists across 93 key global markets. “iProspect is designed for clients at the intersection of brand and performance. We believe brand drives performance, and performance drives brand. We no longer exist in an ecosystem where these elements can be planned and bought separately. We must look at business and brand goals through a combined lens, bringing accelerated growth for our clients,” said Amanda Morrissey, Global President, iProspect. “By focusing on how consumers behave in their digital world and applying that to real world scenarios via a highly connected and creative use of all channels, we position our clients to combine the learnings from the short and long term to drive more effective business growth today and tomorrow.” Peter Huijboom, dentsu international Global CEO Media & Global Clients, said, “At dentsu our goal is to help our clients to make meaningful progress and thrive in a world of change. Because we know people better than anyone else, we deliver human-centric solutions designed to drive growth for our clients and good in society. By bringing iProspect and Vizeum together we are creating a global digital-first, end-to-end media proposition. This will give our clients a scaled choice that sits alongside Carat’s brand-first approach and dentsu X’s experience-driven approach while also allowing greater access to our Creative and CXM service lines.” The new agency will now be launched through a phased market plan over a three-month period with a target completion date of 31st March 2021. This integration is a proof-point of dentsu international’s strategy to simplify how it operates to deliver even greater agility and flexibility for clients through a more focused portfolio of six leadership brands. 0

3 mins read

Optimisation of Checkout Flow on the Mobile

Optimisation of Checkout Flow on the Mobile

Want to improve your website's checkout flow on your mobile in order to increase your conversions? 9 out of 10 Danish webshops miss sales.   By focusing more on your users' experience through the flow, it is possible. In this blog post, you will get some pointers on what a good user experience (UX) is on mobile and how you can improve your checkout flow on mobile with a focus on UX.   What is good UX on mobile - and what is not? There are several different definitions of what good UX is. However, the core definition centers around meeting the specific needs of users in specific contexts. By focusing on mobile, you will also be ready for Mobile-First indexing.   When we talk about good UX for mobile, there are some best practices that are an important part of the design process, such as: ·       Prioritise the user ·       Make the navigation intuitive ·       Focus on the user's goals ·       Make the user’s tasks easy to do ·       Build speed into the UX ·       Give feedback to the user ·       Minimise the amount of extra information ·       Layout the design according to the user's hand (see image below)       By having these best practices in mind, you can create a better user experience for users who either visit your home page via mobile or app. Remember that the future of search is about one overall user experience.   How do I create a better checkout flow? Buy-ready users often leave the checkout flow because they experience some form of frustration during the buying process, giving them a poor user experience. Below are some best practices for how you can minimise the users’ feeling of frustration in the checkout flow and thereby give them a better user experience. Getting started with conversion optimization is easy.   Visualise the curve It should be easy and clear for the user to understand and control what is in his/her basket. A rule of thumb is that the user must have clarity about the product, which includes product images and information, such as price and delivery costs. In addition, the user should have the feeling of control when it comes to making changes to the curve. Therefore, the user must be able to update the number, colors, size, etc. as well as remove products from the basket.   Save for later The Save for later feature can be an important factor in the checkout flow, as it allows users to save a product on the page itself and come back to buy it later. Some users assume that websites or apps automatically store the information in the basket, which can create great frustration when they return and discover the basket is empty. Delivery information Filling out a long form is both time consuming and can result in errors and frustrations among users. Therefore, minimise the number of fields to make it easy and fast for users to enter their information. Another thing you can do to optimise the process here is to insert a field with the option to use shipping address as billing address. This eliminates the need for users to enter the same information twice. Auto-fill and error One of the primary purposes of auto-fill is to make it easier and faster for users to fill out a form. At the same time, auto-fill reduces the risk of user error which creates a better user experience. There are several different types of auto-fill options, such as filling in delivery information or finding an address by entering a postcode. Should it happen that a user enters information that contains an error, it is important that the user receives feedback on this. This could be, for example, if the user has entered his telephone number with a 7 or 9 number instead of 8. Then it must be clear in the form where the error is, so that the user can easily and quickly correct the error. The feedback that helps the user detect the error provides a better experience as the user can quickly and easily locate and correct the error. Order overview In the order overview, it is important that the structure of the information is organised in a way that will help streamline the users' checkout. Therefore, the shipping address should be at the top where users have the option to change it. Then the number of products and their details should be displayed to avoid the user going back in the process to make sure that they are the right products. Discounts, delivery costs, VAT and the total price should also be included in the order overview. This way, you avoid an unexpected cost for users later in the process, which prevents them from converting. Payment methods For many users, entering card information on their mobile phone can be cross-border and time consuming. Therefore, you can create a better user experience by offering different payment methods - including the ability to use MobilePay. That way, users avoid entering card information, and some users perceive the method as more secure compared to entering it directly on the website. Another way to create a great user experience is by displaying security and verification images in the payment step. It gives users a sense of confidence and security in the checkout flow.     Purchase confirmation Last but not least, a purchase confirmation contributes to a good user experience, as users now know that the transaction has been completed and a confirmation email has been sent. There are several elements you can consider including in the purchase confirmation to create an even better user experience. For example, you might add an image or illustration that clearly shows the purchase has been completed. Here, users get a sense of a successful checkout process and confirmation  they completed their goal, namely, to buy a product. How do I know if it works? As mentioned earlier, good UX is characterised by meeting the specific needs of the users in specific contexts. The optimizations that are meet your users’ needs and work for your business may not work for another business and their users. It is important to be clear about what your optimizations should improve. The easiest way to do this is to set up different KPIs. With a KPI framework, you always have an overview of what to measure and how it goes. Although the previous sections provide examples of best practices in UX optimization of a checkout flow on mobile, it is not possible to know in advance whether the optimizations you make on your website or app will work with your users. Therefore, it will be important to perform A / B split tests of the optimizations before they are implemented. Here, the different versions are tested against each other, making it possible for you to find out whether the optimizations perform in your checkout flow or not before they are implemented. You should never implement anything without testing it first.   Need help getting started?   You are always welcome to contact us if you want to hear more about how we can help you optimise your checkout flow and UX. We are happy to help you get started, so that together we can create a digital success that drives business performance. 0

6 mins read

Insights

Future Proofing Your Business in a Cookieless World

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From Discovery to Conversion

From Discovery to Conversion

Pinterest is known to many as the go-to platform for idea creation and discovery. Whether you’re looking for ideas for home décor or recipes for your next dinner party, Pinterest has the inspiration to help you discover what you’re looking for. According to Pinterest, over 14 million people in Canada use the platform every month - resulting in a massive opportunity for advertisers. Not only is Pinterest a fantastic platform for discovery, in the year that Pinterest opened their office in Canada, they’ve released some impressive conversion-based opportunities for Canadian advertisers to capitalize on. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Holidays fast approaching, now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of Pinterest’s offerings, whether the intent be to drive online or offline sales. Take a look at some of Pinterest’s latest tools and ad formats to see how the platform can help you achieve your brand’s digital marketing objectives.  Available Ad Formats Shop the Look How does it work? Shop the Look Pins allows users to purchase products from within the Pin. The pin includes white dots throughout the image that call out different parts of the look. When the user taps the dots, the different elements of the image expand with more product information, and users can also click to the brand’s website to make a purchase.  What is the opportunity? Users engage with Shop the Look Pins three to four times more than they do with Pins without the feature Users are five times more likely to save Shop the Look Pins Shop the Look Pins drive exponential traffic to brand websites Source: Social Media Today These pins are a great way to feature multiple products in one image and can easily turn a discovery related search into a purchase.  Catalogues How does it work? Brands can upload their entire product catalog to the platform, to what is called Pinterest Catalogs. Once this is done, each product automatically turns into a product Pin. Product Pins include price, availability, product information, and more. From there, you’re able to sort products into groups and create shopping ads.  What is the opportunity? 55% of Pinners are looking specifically for products  90% of weekly users use Pinterest to make purchase decisions 1 in 2 Pinners make a purchase after seeing a promoted pin  Essentially, when Catalog ads are used with shopping ads, highly visual and actionable ads are created. Pinterest influences buying decisions, and these visually appealing ads make it even easier for you to reach relevant Pinners in the right places on Pinterest.  Available Tools Lens Visual Search Tool How does it work? One of the most unique offerings on Pinterest is the Lens Visual Search Tool. The tool isn’t specific to paid advertising, but paid advertising can definitely benefit from it. This tool works when the user points the camera within the Pinterest app at an object. Pinterest will then populate items and ideas that are related to the image.  What is the opportunity? The visual search tool can identify 2.5 billion fashion and home products, making it a great tool to help Pinners discover new products. For brands, it’s a perfect opportunity to have their promoted pins appear when Pinners are using the Lens Visual Search Tool, giving your brand’s pins more exposure and opportunity for the user to discover and convert on your products.  At its core, Pinterest is a discovery platform, however... Pinterest advertising can help your brand deliver appealing and relevant ads, making it easy for the consumer to find what they’re looking for and purchase, all in one place. As we head into Black Friday and the Holidays, consider these ad formats and tools to help reach your digital marketing objectives and to contribute to measurable business growth.  0

4 mins read

Five top tips for maximizing Amazon Sponsored Ads

Five top tips for maximizing Amazon Sponsored Ads

It’s impossible to ignore the impact of Amazon on commerce. The platform is now well-established as an integral media partner for many brands and agencies, and it’s important to integrate it carefully into your approach. With our deep knowledge of SEO and PPC, we’ve been able to combine understanding of the Amazon ecosystem with specialist skills to develop a holistic Amazon proposition. Based on this development, here are five tips to maximize your approach to Amazon Sponsored Ads. 1. A great campaign structure goes a long way Having a best-in-class structure for Amazon Sponsored Ads campaigns is key. Whether you are running Sponsored Brands or Sponsored Products, it’s fundamental to nail the basics. Splitting campaigns effectively based on themes is vital and typically there are three core elements: Brand Category Competitor Having this division in place will ensure your campaigns have clear goals, paving the way for tighter measurement and optimization. Furthermore, it allows for better understanding of where in the consumer decision journey a user might be; i.e. Brand is driven by conversion, whilst Category and Competitor drive awareness and consideration. 2. Avoid mixing Match Types Match Types are a basic element of a typical paid search campaign – a well-known fact to the PPC community. Best practice, however, is to only use a single Match Type per campaign. If you have complex campaigns with a large range of products, this may need great consideration to generate efficiency and effectiveness. 3. Utilise the best available ASINs ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Numbers) are specific codes unique to Amazon that identify a product. If you are familiar with Amazon, you are aware that there are elements of an ASIN which will impact a consumer's shopping habits. Users tend to avoid products that don’t: Have lots of high-quality reviews – We recommend having as many reviews as possible. Twenty-five reviews is a good milestone to exceed and the review rating should be above four stars. Have stock – Being in stock is key. When you are out of stock, you either lose the buy box to a reseller (making you unable to control the customer experience) or the user may simply go to a competitor. Allow free next-day delivery – An expectation on Amazon is to have next-day delivery for free! Vendors will have a relationship with Amazon to enable Amazon Prime, but a third-party seller can also do a great job when it comes to logistics. Both work with Amazon to store inventory at a fulfilment centre, offering a great service by enabling Amazon Prime.  4. Optimise product titles Titles are one of the first opportunities to convince users that a product is right for them. When they perform a search on Amazon, a product may seem irrelevant if the title doesn’t match the search query in some way. Hence, it’s important to make the title as descriptive as possible whilst staying on brand and include the right keywords to resonate well with both the user and the Amazon A10 algorithm. 5. Use great imagery Optimizing product images is the key to success on Amazon and for your Sponsored Product campaigns (especially when you have a higher-funnel focus). Without quality images, brand perception can be highly affected and hinder the chance of a user clicking through to the product detail page. We recommend using at least six product images and testing the use of lifestyle images to express the brand’s tone of voice. Summary Include these five things in your Amazon approach to bring your strategy closer to best-in-class retail readiness and maximum efficiency through Sponsored Ads. By keeping them front of mind, you’ll achieve better results for your brand when it comes to product visibility and Return on Advertising Spend. Joe Farley, Paid Search Director, iProspect UK, is the original author of this article. 0

4 mins read

The Future of Search

The Future of Search

Search has become prolific in everyone’s day to day life, with 93% of online experiences starting with a search engine and 60% of all website traffic coming from search. I’ve personally found it fascinating to see search engines develop over the last two decades from basic navigation engines getting you to the right website to the platforms we see today with common questions being answered directly in the search engine results pages (SERPs). What will the future hold for this ubiquitous technology?  Important in attempting to answer this question is to interrogate the statement “Future of Search”. The classic definition of “to search” is defined as, “to examine thoroughly in order to find something or someone”. However, if you think about your last search online, it usually started with a problem that you were looking to solve. The search was ultimately aimed at solving that problem.So, when searching online we should think about how consumers seek resolution for a problem. Secondly, when looking at the concept of the future, the main challenge here is the concept of predicting future innovation. In his 2014 book “How we got to now” Steven Johnson wrote:  Bees and other insects evolved the sensory tools to see and be drawn to flowers, just as the flowers evolved the properties that attract bees. Meanwhile, the hummingbird evolved a special form of hovering flight that made the extraction of flower nectar easier.  He observed that the function of insects feeding on flowers (innovation #1) is the same function as that enabled by the evolved musculoskeletal structure of hummingbirds who eat on flowers in the same way (innovation #2).So, whilst we have reference points for innovations now, we don’t have reference points for those future innovations.  However, we can see how the business models and innovations have historically shaped search.Google became the most successful search engine by quickly connecting users with content across the internet that solved their problems. YouTube has provided us with a plethora of How-To videos, unboxing and review pieces that have aided people in solving their problems. Amazon has connected users with the products they are looking to purchase at ever increasing speeds, ultimately solving their problems. On this basis we can conclude that the future of search will likely be led by any products, technology and services that are able to resolve consumers problems quicker and easier than those around today. On this basis below are my seven predictions of trends that we will see in the future of search: 1) Search will be experience led When search first started the experience was very much a text in, text out affair. Users would input their search query in text and have 10 text results returned to them by the search engine. This experience has improved over time through the introduction of rich search results with outputs taking the form of images, products, maps, news or videos. These universal search results provided new forms of media that improved the search experience. Bringing us up to today there are also now a plethora of new input experiences (voice, image and video) and lots of new output experiences (360 images, Interactives and augmented reality). In this new world we have voice search (whereby the primary input and/or output from search is voice). Voice searches are already happening at a rate of 1Bn+ per month, demonstrating their value, however this number is dwarfed by the current number of text searches that are happening. This is because whilst Voice Search has a 95% input accuracy, currently the output is still of questionable value a lot of the time. Once the usefulness of the output from voice search increases, we can expect this experience to aid users in solving their problems and be rapidly adopted. There is also visual search (whereby the primary input and/or output from search is visual), with some recent examples including Google Lens (using imagery as an input) which is aiding users to identify objects or the inclusion of augmented reality results for certain animals within SERPs. Visual search is proving so useful to users that 62% of younger consumers want visual search more than any other technology in search. As these experiences improve in the future, search will be more experience led. 2) Search will exist everywhere As we start to think about the potential of these new experiences, we can start to mix inputs and outputs (and more importantly the devices on which these sit).  For example, there could be a foreseeable situation whereby you would ask a search engine to “Show me a selection of blue shirts I can buy on my TV”, whereby the search engine would respond “Sending a selection of blue shirts to your TV”. Browsing and refining your selections further on the TV. Or there could be a situation where you could ask a search engine to “Send the directions to Tom’s house to my car” and the search engine would respond “Sending the driving directions to Tom’s house to your car”. Thereby saving valuable time when you get into your vehicle. In fact, the role that these other connected devices will play in the search landscape could be dramatic. If we look at the units shipped combined with projected sales forecast for Desktops / Mobiles and other Connected Devices, we can see that whilst Mobile is the dominant device currently, it could be that by 2022 it is overtaken by the sheer volume of other connected devices. As these devices become more prevalent, search will exist everywhere. 3) Search will be more personal Search engines are currently undergoing a transformation, and this is related to their definition. At a basic level they are designed to return content from a database based on the search query the user has inputted. However, for them to develop any further in the future a transformation needs to occur. That is in additional layers of Contextual understanding and personalisation for the user. With this change we will see a move away from search engines and towards personal assistants. A move away from returning content from a database and towards seeking resolution for your problems.Technologies such as Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are all in their infancy but will eventually power everything around us. Think Google.com taking us straight to a conversation with Google Assistant or Alexa being served to you rather than Amazon.com and you are close to the possibilities of what may happen. This level of deep personalisation will require users to be comfortable giving away this personal data for a better service. However,based on historical reference, consumers will see the value of doing this if it ultimately assists them. 4) Search will be more action based If we now look at the inputs and outputs for personal assistants, we can see a challenge still. Ultimately the output of a personal assistant still requires users to take additional steps in order to solve their problem, whether this is onward browsing to a website or additional filtering of the search. Consider this instead, could a search engine solve the problem as an action rather than requiring the user to take other steps? This is already happening within Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). For search results such as “what is the time?” or “who were the Mayans?” Google is already answering the results directly in SERP. However, consider a situation where search engines can solve more complex problems, for example “Please order me a brown hair dye to match my usual colour”, “please order me an Uber”, “Please buy some toys for my daughter for holiday”. With access to personal data, calendars, address books and previous shopping habits a direct action from all these searches is possible. As personal assistants can remove barriers to solving problems, search will become more action based. 5) Search will be more conversational In the natural world, conversation between humans is the defacto, the one-sided experience that we currently have with search whereby input results in output (or action) will ultimately be limiting. Conversation is required for additional context as well as refinement of the search. Some level of conversation can already happen, when searching within the Google Assistant for example, you can ask abouta celebrity. You can then ask who their partner is or who their children are. It uses context from previous searches in the conversation, rather than requiring you to repeat who the celebrity is that you are searching for. However consider this, with levels of personalisation and contextualisation you could ask who a certain person is that you’ve just met in a meeting, the assistant would be able to tell you and then you could ask follow-up questions such as “when did I last meet them?”. With publicly available LinkedIn data and access to your calendar this is a possibility. As personal assistants become better at refinement, search will become more conversational. 6) Search will be more pre-emptive With the outputs of search replaced with actions, the last evolution of search could come from the removal of inputs to search. By pre-empting what a user might search for, it would remove the need for a user to search in the first place, surfacing useful solutions before the user even realised they needed them. Pre-emptive search already exists within the Android platform, with push notifications giving you information on upcoming restaurant bookings, hotels, flights or travel. With access to calendars and emails this pre-emptive search becomes possible. Another example is Google’s Discover platform that surfaces content before a user searches for it, based on their previous search history. In theory this pre-emptive methodology could be applied to more complex searches, for example “your hair colour is starting to fade, shall I order you another permanent dye in the same colour?” or “as it’s raining and you are running late shall I order you an Uber?” or “It’s your holiday coming up, shall I order some beach toys for your daughter?”.  As search understands what users will need before they themselves realise, search will become more pre-emptive. 7) Search will run your life If all these potential innovations are stringed together backed by AI powered personal assistants, could the following be possible?  “I’ve organised your Christmas card list, ordered for you, they are being delivered for you to sign” “I see that the new TV box set is out, would you like me to phone in sick to work for you?” “I’ve written the marketing plan for next year, for the new product I recommended you bring to market, I’m awaiting your sign off…” Could Search run your life? Mark Williams, Managing Partner, Product Strategy, iProspect UK, was the original author of this article.   0

9 mins read

Q2 2019 Digital Performance Report

Q2 2019 Digital Performance Report

Marketers today face a challenge of understanding and adjusting to shifts in the consumer experience. Brands and agencies need to stay ahead of the curve, keeping up with changes and testing from major platforms like Google, Amazon and Facebook to maintain a strong relationship with target audiences. In the newest iteration of our Digital Performance Report, we saw a shift in how consumers are shopping online. Although Amazon continues to dominate eCommerce, other retailers like Google Shopping, Target and Costco are increasing their efforts, making them critical for ongoing testing for retail brands. Additionally, we continue to see an increase in search on mobile devices, up to 61% in 2019, with 64% of searches starting on Google. This report offers key takeaways from Paid Search, Paid Social, Paid Platform Merchandising, Multicultural Marketing and SEO and analyzes data from our portfolio of brands, all of which are managed by iProspect U.S. What you’ll learn from the Q2 2019 Digital Performance Report:  How to use automation for Paid Search to expand and learn – monitoring tactics across different engines, advertisers and industries. The importance of emerging platforms, such as TikTok and Reddit, and how to put budget toward reaching consumers in these spaces. How to invest in multiple content formats to ensure no lapse in connection to consumers. The critical need to understand target audiences and think holistically about multicultural marketing. Download the full Digital Performance Report for more details on how to capitalize on the changes happening within our industry and what you need to consider for the remainder of 2019, as well as planning for 2020. 0

2 mins read

What Microsoft's Acquisition of Promote IQ Could Mean for the Industry

What Microsoft's Acquisition of Promote IQ Could Mean for the Industry

This past Monday, Microsoft announced its acquisition of Promote IQ, a technology provider that allows sponsored products to appear on the digital shelf within retail search. Here at iProspect, we have a specialized ecommerce department that helps brands promote their products online for category-specific shopper searches, or to ensure that the product is given high exposure across a retailer platform or network.  In the announcement, Promote IQ refers to themselves as “the leader in this space.” However, they are in fact a fairly new tech provider in a space that we know is dominated by Amazon, Criteo and Walmart. It is important to remember how each of these three entities work: Amazon’s proprietary technology serves sponsored ads on Amazon, while Criteo’s technology works on retailer sites across the U.S. such as Target, Best Buy, and CVS. Walmart is slightly different in that they use a combination of its own technology and Criteo’s to serve advertisements. The difference for Promote IQ and what they are bringing to the space that is unique is outlier retailers like Kroger, Kohl's and Overstock.com. Why is the Microsoft and Promote IQ an important deal? As we know, traditional search engines like Google and Bing usually show a product sold by a retailer within the SERP in the form of a shopping ad.   Now, for the first time, Microsoft advertising has a view into how brands convert through a retailer via Promote IQ. The merger also allows Microsoft to give retailers an alternative tech provider to (re)negotiate with, all while using shiny new Microsoft assets and infrastructure, which is likely to offer tempting commercial partnerships underlined with technology. It is this potential underpinning of technology that really excites us here at iProspect. Microsoft understands the traditional search engine audiences and audiences across the open web via their display opportunities. If they can layer this audience segmentation into a retail environment, it will truly be a game-changer. Imagine a world where someone is looking for “jeans” on Overstock.com. Microsoft probably has a good education of user demos like age, gender and previous open web searches. Therefore, what is served at the top of the shelf could be really ground-breaking and relevant because of this new partnership, as it is likely to be more tailored to an audience or shopper when the gender and preferred style of that shopper is not shown by a simple one word “search.” Are the changes immediate? Of course, the usual caveats apply, as with any major acquisition in the tech space. For the moment, Promote IQ will operate as a standalone unit, so nothing will immediately change. Only time will tell how they’ll partner more with their new owners and what a joint venture with Microsoft will look like. We sincerely hope they find a solution quickly and make every effort to work together, as the opportunity to entice knew retailers into their network and overlay the rich audience data that Microsoft holds is incredibly exciting. Lilie le Prevost, Lead, Paid Platform Merchandising, iProspect US, was the original author of this article. 0

3 mins read

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