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According to the iProspect 2020 Global Client Survey, the main advantages of a better integration of brand and performance are a more effective measurement of marketing ROI (60% of respondents), more consistent consumer experiences (54%), and more efficient touchpoints that build customer relationship (38%). On the flipside, one out of two marketers (51%) sees the difficulty in measuring the contribution of brand initiatives to business performance as a key barrier to brand and performance integration.

 

In the context of less predictable shopping patterns, a shoppable-by-design approach, wherein brand interactions offer consumers a convenient path to transactions at any given time, can help marketers make the most of both their brand and performance efforts to elevate the consumer experience, maximise impact and track business results.

 

Shoppable media connects brands and commerce

Shoppable media is nothing new for digital advertising which has embedded interactivity since its infancy. One could also argue that traditional channels have had shoppable mechanisms for a long time (e.g., newspaper coupons, direct response TV). However, technology is now driving an acceleration in this space, bringing commerce features to media without compromising brand experiences.

All the main digital platforms have recently intensified their efforts to create more shoppable formats. For instance, people can now use the Google App to simply tap and hold any image in order to shop the exact item featured in the image or similar items. On YouTube, brands can pair their video ads with a browsable catalogue, so that while the video showcases the brand key message, the catalogue facilitates navigation towards the product page that matter.

The TV industry is also active in this space, and networks have been leading the charge. Following the launch of ShoppableTV (a QR code-based solution for letting viewers shop products featured in shows they’re watching), NBCUniversal has announced Checkout, a unified shopping cart across its TV and digital properties, and recently partnered with PayPal to facilitate payments on the platform. TV manufacturers are keen to get their share of the shoppable media pie as well. For example, LG has announced a solution powered by artificial intelligence enabling its clients to easily purchase what they see on screen.

These types of solutions could improve how brands measure the profitability of product placement and TV ads, and lead to new product personalisation opportunities (e.g., selling a limited edition tailored to what is happening on screen). In the long run, they may also change the nature of TV investment through the development of commission-based business relationships alongside the more traditional GRP-based trading. In the meantime, brands should focus on collecting insights through testing and building consumer habits through clear instructions when content is shoppable.

 

 

Livestreaming reinvents TV shopping channels for the digital age

Today, the most dynamic place for creating shoppable-by-design brand experiences sits at the intersection of social platforms, influencer marketing and livestreaming. By combining the unique strengths of these three channels - collective experience, personal touch and sense of urgency - brands have a powerful recipe at their disposal to boost their commerce strategy.

The most emblematic example of this convergence is TikTok, which has seen a spectacular audience growth over the last twelve months and is now expected to join the very exclusive club of +1B monthly active users in 2021. The platform has rolled out a series of shopping features that natively fit the content from creators, such as Shop Now buttons, shoppable livestreams with in-app transactions, and shoppable ads in partnership with Shopify - all of that while topping the other major digital platforms in terms of ad equity according to Kantar. It is no surprise that brands targeting Gen Z are investing in TikTok. For instance, Levi’s tapped into the #oddlysatisfying movement and partnered with TikTok influencers to create customised denim products that consumers could buy for a limited time.

Livestreaming is an important growth opportunity for brands selling through third-party commerce platforms as well. In China, Taobao Live (Alibaba Group’s livestreaming channel) alone generated roughly $48B in gross merchandise value in twelve months. In Japan, the department store Isetan used Instagram and YouTube livestreams to introduce products to a user base larger than what would show up in-store.

As livestreaming continues to grow, marketers should explore how they can make the most of this format that connects entertainment and commerce to design experiences improving both the image and sales metrics of their brands.

 

Technology advancements prefigure better shopping experiences

The future of online shopping has never seemed so bright. Many of the technologies that were much anticipated over the last years are finally getting into consumers’ hands, opening new commerce possibilities for brands.

Certainly, the most discussed is 5G, and, to a lesser extent, Wi-Fi 6. As coverage increases and the list of compatible devices grows, consumers are starting to experience these new networks that promise lower latency (e.g., enabling better livestreams) and higher reliability in environments congested with connected devices (e.g., enabling a smarter home). These improved connections could lead to smoother brand and shopping experiences, but they could also heighten consumers’ expectations, for instance, in terms of speed standards for brands’ websites and apps.

Another exciting technology, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), is gaining increasing attention. It uses laser pulses to scan the environment around the device and create high-fidelity three-dimensional maps. While most of its applications to date have been reserved for professionals, it is now literally at our fingertips, with the latest iPhone flagship models featuring a LiDAR scanner. For consumers, it is an opportunity for more accurate augmented reality (AR) experiences, which can help visualize items at scale before purchasing. For instance, Apple announced that the IKEA Place app (which enables users to place furniture in their home in AR) will feature a new Studio Mode harnessing its LiDAR scanner. Tech platforms are also seizing this opportunity, with Snapchat now enabling brands to create LiDAR-powered lenses.

These examples are only a glimpse of the various technologies that already, or will soon, make it easier for consumers to shop and easier for companies to create compelling experiences that bring brands and commerce together. Now is a good time for marketers to examine how they can make the most of these opportunities in the near future to bolster their commerce capabilities.

 

 

This article is excerpted from the report Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated. 

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