Shoppable Video Promises New Brand Opportunities


New video formats, including shoppable, are among the most exciting prospects for brands as we enter a new decade.

The shoppable opportunity as part of true video content is still evolving, and may take a few more years to flower fully in the United States.

But as eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman points out in a new report on retail’s most important trends, “The rise of shoppable content on social media has laid the foundation for the next phase of product discovery: shoppable video.”

Social commerce will evolve how consumers discover and shop for brands digitally, with more shoppable content and a streamlined path to checkout, the eMarketer report adds.

Several factors are helping to bring this opportunity to fruition.

The biggest is that key social media platforms are testing and rolling out shoppable content features.

Social commerce has already begun challenging Amazon and other traditional ecommerce platforms in markets including Southeast Asia and China.

Facebook has even backed a social commerce startup, Meesho, which connects buyers and sellers on WhatsApp and other social media platforms, and lets them feature and sell their goods and connect with fulfillment companies to deliver them, points out TechCrunch.

YouTube has also gotten in the game. As part of a new strategy to become a hub for shopping, it added Shopping ads to its home feed and search results in November, enabling browsers to see a carousel of images with personally relevant product offerings from merchants.

As MediaPost has reported, YouTube is also making its video ads more interactive, giving viewers information such as store location, interest forms and additional calls-to-action to help brands drive conversions. And sitelink extensions will become available for TrueView for action ads, enabling visitors to navigate additional pages.

Instagram (with a newly updated strategy), Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok are also moving quickly into ecommerce.

Short-form video app TikTok — which already boasts more than a billion users, including more than 30 million active monthly users in the U.S., more than two-thirds of whom are between 16 and 24 — is a particularly intriguing example, and could be poised to become a major force in social commerce.

Tiktok is beginning to allow some users to add links to ecommerce sites (among other destinations) to their profile biographies, and giving video creators the ability to readily send their viewers to shopping websites. (Instagram already allows this, but its restrictions pose serious limitations, notes TechCrunch.)

The combination of TikTok’s high-engagement, user-generated video content and commerce capabilities could prove explosive.

TikTok relies heavily on issuing challenges to drive engagement — often challenges that tie into young users’ concerns about sustainability and other societal issues.

The concept can also be harnessed by brands, of course. And some are already experimenting with using TikTok’s new ecommerce feature in that context.

Kroger, for example, used a sponsored hashtag challenge, with placement on the Discover page, to introduce users to a brand page where they can shop directly for products using the TikTok ecommerce capability.

Meanwhile, looking at the broader landscape, Amazon is “trying to become the digital destination for home shopping with Amazon Live, where hosts hock everything from slow cookers to cosmetics throughout the day,” notes Lipsman.

And although not “video” per se, NBCUniversal has taken the first steps toward shoppable TV ads on a mass scale, testing on-screen QR codes as a shopping interface for Lacoste goods during 2019’s French Open coverage.

Some pundits have pooh-poohed that implementation as somewhat clunky, but eMarketer points out that new TV tech and voice-enabled remotes will likely allow a transition to voice-controlled shoppable TV at some point.

And who knows where shoppable video capabilities will emerge in the months and years ahead?

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