Marketers need to reimagine shoppable video and start thinking about next-generation bookmarking as the link between a universal shopping cart and video, says Carolyn Bollaci, managing director of APAC, Innovid, in this opinion piece.
It might be hard to believe for those new to the digital media industry, but the dream of being able to buy a product directly from a TV show dates all the way back to the very beginning of the new millennium.
At industry conferences around the world, executives spoke longingly of a future in which viewers of the then-popular sitcom Friends could see star actress Jennifer Aniston wearing a fashionable sweater, and then, with the push of a button, purchase that very sweater for themselves.
But despite the many technological breakthroughs that have occurred over the past 15 years, this holy grail of ecommerce is not yet a reality for the vast majority of consumers.
One of the primary reasons shoppable video has yet to become a widespread phenomenon is user behavior. While there are certainly instances in which people become so excited by a new product that they are ready to make a purchase right away, most video viewers are inclined to continue watching their content without interruption.
If you’re about to see the resolution of an epic cliffhanger on The Bachelor or a laugh-out-loud funny video from your favorite YouTuber, purchasing a new pair of shoes may just have to wait a few minutes.
In order for shoppable video to reach its true potential, marketers and technologists must consider a broader definition of the format that goes beyond the direct-response tactics we have traditionally associated with it, and into new terrain that more accurately reflects the many paths to purchase consumers take.
Indeed, you might not want to put the season finale of Friends on pause to purchase a new sweater, but what if there were a way for you to save it for later?
A new way of thinking about shoppable video
Rather than conceiving of shoppable video merely as a tool for allowing people to purchase the products they see in video content, marketers should begin thinking of it as anything that allows consumers to learn more about the products they see on-screen.
After all, even if someone isn’t in the shopping state of mind while they’re watching a particular piece of content, there’s great value in creating awareness, excitement and the opportunity for them to make an informed purchase decision at some point down the road.
Crucial to this philosophy is the development of an idea I like to call “next-generation bookmarking,” or the capability for consumers to see a product in a video and revisit it after they’ve finished watching their content.
Already, we’ve seen how platforms like Pinterest have helped consumers move from browsing to purchase consideration by giving them a place to store product pages and other content containing goods they might like to buy.
The reason these platforms have caught on is that they allow people to bookmark their desired products seamlessly, and without interrupting their browsing and content consumption behaviors. They also provide a choice environment for people to compare the pros and cons of the various items they’ve earmarked.
Still, there exists a major opportunity to take these bookmarking platforms to the next level by linking them directly to the point of purchase, and by making it easier to single out individual products from the video content people are consuming.
While it’s nice that someone can save a video containing a pair of sunglasses to their Pinterest page, a truly next-generation bookmarking tool would allow the consumer to save the product itself to a shopping cart where they could purchase it directly — all without leaving the video they were watching.
Many companies would love to be the preferred bookmarking tool for shopping. From aggregators like Pinterest and Lyst, to browser extensions like Amazon Assistant and Wikibuy, and the retailers themselves—it’s clear that there’s a true need for a seamless integration between the content viewing platform and the “keeper” of precious finds to help streamline the digital shopping experience.
A bright future ahead
Once these next-generation bookmarking tools are in place, the sky is the limit for shoppablevideo. Due to its unique combination of sight, sound and motion, video allows brands to connect with people on an emotional level that simply isn’t available with display ads and other mediums. And with global retail ecommerce sales set to top $2 trillion this year, web users have never been more comfortable making purchases online.
As you read this, companies like Shoppable and ShopStyle are hard at work building universal shopping carts capable of allowing users to store products from a variety of retailers in a single location one click away from checkout.
In the not-too-distant future, consumers will be able to use a single shopping cart for all of their ecommerce activity. All that’s missing is the link between the video content people love and the shopping cart that holds the products they want to buy next.
Indeed, the future of shoppable video is well within our reach. With a slight re-imagination of how we consider the format and a few pieces of instrumental technology, marketers will have an unprecedented opportunity to inspire demand, collapse the marketing funnel and move buyers further along the path to purchase.
One day soon, consumers will be able to identify and purchase their favorite actress’s sweater without hassle or delay – whenever they feel comfortable doing so.
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