Shoppers are jingling all the way – to Facebook?
Ecommerce aside, brick and mortar has continued to play, for years, a big role in holiday shopping, giving people the ability to literally window shop their way through November and December. However, with changing user behavior, social networks like Facebook and Instagram have gone from peer-to-peer sharing platforms to discovery and inspiration feeds that have made way for a new type of window shopping: the digital storefront.
With the innovation of Facebook Carousel, Collection and Canvas ads, retailers now have the ability to populate entire product feeds, or catalogs, into highly targeted social ads. It’s a format not dissimilar from a brick-and-mortar dressed window; it highlights all of the latest and best-selling products.
However, digital and shoppable ads have the potential to drive tremendous sales, and that is why retailers need to be putting a focus on social networks for holiday marketing efforts this season.
The Shoppable Format
Ads designed as digital storefronts combine shopping – without purchase intent – and performance.
While it’s true that consumers have been able to make online purchases for years from the comfort of their own homes, they haven’t had access from their homes to the same kind of shopping experience that brick-and-mortar stores provide – that is, until now. In many ways, digital storefront ads recreate or even simulate the full shopping experience by simply letting consumers browse through merchandise, coming across different retailers’ ads like they would stores while walking down a street. The difference? There is a much, much larger consumer base and greater brand reach on Facebook than there is on Main Street, U.S.A.
Another benefit to these types of ads for retailers is that they can add a direct call to action for shoppers to make a purchase within the ad, itself. Not only is this a great way to convert interest and engagement into actual purchases, but it also plays to the modern consumer’s need for instant gratification. If consumers see something, they want it immediately – and that’s part of the reason that shoppable storefronts were born. There’s an inherent need for “now”.
Personalized Window Shopping
Another benefit to digital storefronts is the consumer personalization options that exist within it – something that does not happen in the physical world. Brands have the ability to tailor and curate an ad to the specific consumer for which it’s intended. That personalization not only occurs in the ad itself, but also in all retargeting efforts and consumer-facing recommendation components. That’s the power of digital, being able to draw the consumer continually back to your brand. That’s also where brick-and-mortar fails.
In addition to highly-targeted personalization, dynamic components within the ads also create a pleasant consumer experience. Canvas and Carousel ads allow for brands to use a variety of imagery and formats (like gifs, video and text) to make ads as engaging and interactive as possible for the end the consumer. Where retailers may be faltering to bringing in potential consumers off the street, they are succeeding in drawing huge portions of social media users to engage with their ads.
For all of the talk about how retailers are annoying consumers with their digital advertising, users still expect to be served ads. It’s not that users are anti-advertising, they just want ads to blend in seamlessly within their world of interest and preferences and their social feeds.
The future of digital advertising will eventually be able to effortlessly draw in consumers, instead of pushing messaging to consumers, and the digital storefront is, in many ways, the tip of the horizon for pull advertising and the next consumer experience.
Ultimately, the growth of shoppable ads on social networks won’t render brick-and-mortar shopping obsolete – it will just provide another avenue to attract consumers. However, as that avenue will provide greater reach and potential for purchase than any physical location – all retailers must put a focus on the digital storefront as they head into the 2017 holiday rush.
Amir Shub is General Manager, Americas for Smartly.io