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Shoppable Ads: How Social Commerce Can Drive Sales

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Social commerce is set to account for $1.2 trillion by 2025. With people spending an average of two and a half hours every day on social media, interacting with their friends, getting their news and entertainment, and shopping all in one place, social commerce is something every eCommerce business should be leveraging in their marketing strategy.

Here, our social media specialists shed light on a specific area within social commerce: shoppable ads. With shoppable media, brands promote and sell products on social media platforms like Meta, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok. Shoppable content’s success is down to its ability to adjust to evolving consumer behavior, introduce fresh user experiences, and generate revenue opportunities for brands.

As part of a social commerce strategy, shoppable media can streamline the online shopping experience and target consumers with products tailored to their specific tastes.

Social commerce vs. shoppable media: What’s the difference?

Although these two phrases may appear interchangeable, they hold distinct differences. Social commerce is product-related content that only sometimes provides a pathway to purchase. This means you can partake in social commerce by writing a blog article or social media post about products, but it doesn’t usually link to or promote products. Social commerce comes in all forms, such as photographs, videos, reviews, and links to product pages.

Shoppable ads are a subcategory of social commerce. It refers to content that helps make the shopping experience more seamless and enjoyable for your customers by providing a pathway to purchase. The use of social media, blog posts, landing pages, email, QR codes, or a URL is considered shoppable media. 

In other words, anything that facilitates the shopping experience and has an impact on the purchasing decision is referred to as “shoppable”.

The more shopping-related information your content provides (like price, stock availability, and buying options), the more “shoppable” it is.

Shoppable ads example for Madcraft client Healthwise

Types of shoppable content

As an additional purchasing option, shoppable media joins a growing ecosystem of commerce solutions. Below are the most common ads that can target a broad demographic, shorten the consumer journey, and speed up the product discovery process.

Shoppable Instagram posts

With over 130 million Instagram users tapping on shopping posts monthly, shoppable ads have become an integral part of Instagram for many users. With one click, a viewer can tap the product and then the tag with the price. These Instagram ads enable brands to present their products in an engaging and aesthetically pleasing way, creating an immersive shopping experience.

The power of Instagram shoppable content is its simplicity as it only needs the input of images of products along with tags to work. 

Shoppable Instagram posts are commonly used by brands in the beauty and fashion industry, where they can showcase multiple products in a single image, such as a model wearing different layers of makeup to show off a specific look. 

You can run shoppable Instagram ads in four different formats; feed ads, stories ads, explore ads, and reels ads.

TikTok shopping ads

The TikTok platform is the newest to enter the social commerce ecosystem. Brands can add a shopping cart icon to their video ads, which users can click to view the product details and make a purchase. 

TikTok’s shoppable ads are highly customizable from branded hashtags to an infinite loop. In addition, the platform provides a unique opportunity for brands to reach younger audiences, who make up a significant portion of the app’s user base. With an algorithm designed to promote content that resonates with its users, brands can potentially reach a broader audience by creating engaging and relevant content and thus increase awareness and conversions. 

The appeal of these ads can be attributed to their exceptional ability to effectively target a younger demographic. This is achieved through personalized content that caters to users’ interests and preferences, resulting in high engagement rates. Additionally, the high level of creative customization available on TikTok allows brands to create unique and eye-catching ads that resonate with their target audience. 

TikTok ads have become increasingly popular among a wide range of brands, spanning from food and beauty to educational companies. The platform has also given rise to a notable shopping trend, popularly known as #tiktokmademebuyit, which has had a significant impact on increasing brand revenue. This trend has created a direct pathway for consumers to discover and purchase products featured in TikTok videos, making it an effective tool for driving sales and boosting brand awareness. 

You can run TikTok shopping ads in three different formats: video shopping ads, catalog listing ads, and live shopping ads.

Shoppable YouTube ads

YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are among the many platforms that now offer shoppable video ads. With video being the most used format among marketers globally, it is a must-have ad to test out. A shoppable video ad is a video that’s complemented with browsable product imagery including the featured items. The imagery is located under the video and contains product titles, prices, and links to product pages. 

Video ads offer an interactive experience where users can effortlessly scroll through the ads while simultaneously watching the video. This dual functionality serves a twofold purpose, enabling customers to browse and purchase products without having to leave the platform. The result is a seamless and engaging advertising experience that facilitates the purchasing process and drives conversions.

The most widely utilized video ad format is YouTube video ads. YouTube ads offer advanced features that allow advertisers to build on standard video assets, such as the ability to add extensions. These extensions, which include site link extensions, lead form extensions, and product feeds, and they can greatly enhance the effectiveness of YouTube video ads by encouraging more clicks and conversions. 

Video ads are a popular advertising format due to their widespread use, high engagement rates, and the ability to incorporate extensions that enhance the viewer’s experience. 

You can run YouTube shoppable media in two different formats; skippable in-stream and in-feed video ad. 

Pinterest product pins ads

Over the years, Pinterest has emerged as a go-to platform for shoppers looking for inspiration. Pinterest shoppable content, also known as product “pins”, contains a small shopping tag that appears on the bottom left-hand corner of the pin. When a user clicks on the shopping tag, they are taken to a product details page, where they can view the price, product description, and other details.

Pinterest ads are highly effective due to their ability to seamlessly blend in with users’ feeds. They are designed to be displayed alongside other pins, which makes them appear less intrusive and more engaging.

Pinterest ads are ideal to use as it is the go-to destination for users seeking inspiration. With Product Pins, multiple products can be featured in a single pin, providing more opportunities for sales. Additionally, Pinterest offers advanced targeting options, including interest-based and keyword-based targeting, to align with customers’ search intent, making the ads more relevant to their interests.

For more accurate targeting, Pinterest has an “add interest” feature (topics related to your brand) so you can reach more people based on other pins they engage with.

Pinterest ads are particularly effective for brands that showcase furniture pieces in the context of room designs to inspire potential buyers, as well as for clothing brands that showcase different styles. 

Pinterest shopping ads come in two different formats: product pins and collections ads.

Snapchat shoppable ads

Snapchat boasts a highly active user base, with the average user opening the app 30 times daily. This presents an ideal platform for brands to showcase their shoppable ads and connect with a highly engaged audience. A shoppable post on Snapchat can feature either an image or a short video, ranging from 3 seconds to as long as 180 seconds. Within the ad, users can swipe up to view additional product details, pricing, and links to purchase the product. 

Snapchat shoppable ads are incredibly effective because they offer real-time updates of key information. For instance, AR lens ads can display current product pricing, color details, product descriptions, and unique purchase links. Some AR lens ads even allow users to virtually try on products. This level of interactivity and information makes Snapchat shoppable ads stand out and drive engagement. 

Snapchat ads work well for brands that offer personalized products and eCommerce stores. 

You can run Snapchat shoppable ads in five formats: single image or video ads, collection ads, story ads, and AR lens ads. 

Shoppable ads example for Madcraft client GymPlus

Best practices for shoppable ads

Create effective shoppable ads that drive sales and provide a great shopping experience for your customers with these best practices.

  • Quality: When featuring a product, make sure to use high-quality images that showcase your products in the best possible light. We recommend using multiple images from different angles and provide zoom-in features to give customers a better idea of the product. It’s important to incorporate all elements that may invoke a person to click through your ad including audio, colors and language.
  • Feature the product and price upfront: This can make or break your shoppable ads. If you don’t include all necessary information such as pricing, product details, and shipping information, consumers will seek elsewhere (usually to competitors). 
  • Make use of ad extensions: Certain shoppable media can have extensions such as site links and lead forms. We recommended inserting extensions (where appropriate) to enhance your ads performance.
  • Keep your messaging clear and concise: Shoppable ads should have a clear message that tells customers exactly what they’re getting. Utilizing simple and concise language to describe your products and their benefits. Also, add a call-to-action button such as “Buy Now” or “Shop Now” to prompt users to take action.
  • Create a seamless user experience: Shoppable ads are optimized for mobile, so you do not need to fear about this, but it is still important to consider other hurdle users may experience with accessibility. The entire shopping experience, from clicking on the ad to checking out, should be smooth and easy. Ensure that the product pages are also optimized for mobile devices, as many people will be shopping on their phones. 
  • Use retargeting to increase conversions: If someone clicks on your shoppable ad but doesn’t complete the purchase, you can retarget them with additional ads to remind them of the product and encourage them to come back and buy. Retargeting is a powerful tool, with retargeted users are more likely to convert by 70%.   
  • Test and optimize your ads: Finally, it’s important to test and optimize your shoppable ads to ensure that they’re performing as well as possible. Experiment with different images, messaging, and calls-to-action to see what resonates best with your audience. Use A/B testing to compare different versions of your ad and make data-driven decisions about how to improve them.

The future of social commerce and shoppable content

As more and more consumers turn to social media for product discovery and recommendations, social commerce is poised to become a major player in the eCommerce industry. Here are some predictions for the growth and development of shoppable media in social commerce in the future:

  1. Increased adoption of social commerce: Social commerce has become mainstream but not every brand utilizes it, which underlines the growing importance of social media as a marketing and sales channel. In the future, expect to see an increasing number of brands adopting the practice.
  2. Increased use of augmented reality and virtual reality: Augmented reality and virtual reality are already being used in some social commerce applications as seen with Snapchat’s AR lens ads, but we can expect to see even greater use of these technologies in the future. These technologies allow consumers to try on products virtually before making a purchase, which can help increase conversion rates and reduce returns. 
  3. Greater emphasis on personalization: Personalization has become a major trend in eCommerce. According to digitalcommerce360, about 30% of shoppers are more likely to buy from an ad if it is personalized thus as brands collect more data on their users, they will be able to offer highly personalized recommendations and shopping experiences, which can help increase customer loyalty and drive sales.

As more businesses and consumers embrace the practice, we can expect to see a range of innovative new products and services that take advantage of the unique capabilities of social media.

In conclusion, shoppable media is a powerful business tool to drive social commerce and boost sales. By enabling consumers to purchase products directly from social media platforms, shoppable content can streamline the shopping process and create a seamless user experience.

In addition to increasing conversions, shoppable ads provide valuable insights into consumer behavior and preferences, which can inform future marketing strategies. As social commerce continues to grow, brands that embrace shoppable creatives are likely to see significant revenue and customer engagement benefits.

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