Selling To Customers Through 'Shoppable Videos'

Chris CrumeCommerce

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Everyone knows online video can be a great way to market businesses and products, but some businesses are finding that it can be quite beneficial for actually selling products. "Shoppable video" is a trend that has been slowly rising for several years, but new capabilities from a variety of platforms indicate that it could be poised to become much bigger.

Is video already a part of your marketing strategy? Is it part of your selling strategy? Tell us about your efforts in the comments.

"Retail video brings merchants’ products to life in a way that only e-commerce video can, often resulting in higher customer satisfaction and higher retail sales conversion," says video marketing news blog ReelSEO.

YouTube for Shopping

Greg Jarboe writes on the site that YouTube Shopping is the new window shopping and that "unlike the mall, YouTube never, ever sleeps." He cites data directly from Google claiming that one third of all shopping searches happen between the hours of 10PM and 4AM.

A couple months ago, Google announced that it is extending its product listing ads (PLAs) to YouTube with TrueView for Shopping, its new format that lets businesses run product ads with related videos.

“Whether it’s watching a product review or learning how to bake a soufflé, we look to video in countless moments throughout to the day to help us get things done,” Google said in a blog post. “We call these micro-moments – when we reflexively turn to our devices to learn more, make a decision, or purchase a product."

It said it launched TrueView for shopping to "connect the dots between the moment a person watches a video and the moment they decide to make a purchase," while also making it easy for viewers to get more info on the business' products with the option to click to buy.

With these ads, businesses can showcase product details and images, and users can click and purchase from a brand or retail site from within the video ad. The option is available for TrueView in-stream video ads, and works across mobile, desktop, and tablet. 50% of views on YouTube come from mobile.

The ads are integrated with Google Merchant Center, so you can connect campaigns with a Merchant Center feed to dynamically add products and customize ads through contextual and audience signals such as geography and demographic information.

“Brands that have participated in our early tests of TrueView for shopping have seen strong results for driving interest and sales,” Google noted in the announcement. “Online home goods retailer Wayfair, for instance, saw a 3X revenue increase per impression served when compared to previous campaigns. And beauty retailer Sephora took advantage of this new ad format to drive +80% lift in consideration and +54% lift in ad recall, and an average view time of nearly two minutes.”

If You Teach Them, They Just Might Buy

In an article last week, the National Retail Federation looked at how Williams-Sonoma, in partnership with Visa Checkout, became one of the first brands to utilize the new TrueView shoppable video ads:

Shoppers viewing a series of videos created by Tastemade, a global food lifestyle network for digital platforms, can buy the featured items — including glasses, cocktail plates and platters — directly from the video. The campaign “clicks” on multiple fronts — engaging and informative videos showcasing products that can be purchased in just a few clicks point to how marketers are increasingly focusing on visual elements to provide inspiration on mobile.

“The videos don’t feel promotional. They teach viewers how to prepare a summer meal using Williams-Sonoma products, which can be purchased easily using Visa Checkout,” says Chris Curtin, chief brand and innovation marketing officer at Visa. “Visa Checkout is a simpler payment system. It takes 44 fields of information and compresses it into just a few clicks. The combination of shoppable video and a faster transaction give new meaning to the idea of instant gratification.”

Google recently gave marketers some best practices for capitalizing on major growth in how-to searches on YouTube. Believe it or not, these types of searches have seen 70% growth year-over-year. A whopping one hundred million hours of such content has already been watched in North America in 2015, it says. According to Google, people look for how-to videos increasingly on mobile with 91% of smartphone users turning to their devices for ideas while completing a task. These searches are on the rise across all age groups, but millennials are especially likely to search YouTube for how-to videos. 67% of them agree that they can find a YouTube video on anything they want to learn.

“When people ask how to do something, that’s a need,” wrote David Mogensen, Head of B2B Product Marketing for YouTube and Google Display. “That’s someone asking, ‘can you help me out?’ Digital media let brands respond to those questions and be there at the very moment someone needs them most. Brands that successfully do this can win loyalty and drive sales to boot. In fact, nearly one in three millennials say they’ve purchased a product as a result of watching a how-to video.”

He talked about how Home Depot has a bunch of how tos for home improvement and how Valspar has content about various paint-related subjects. Home improvement, beauty, and cooking are among the most popular categories for how-to searches.

As far as best practices, Google said to identify the “I-want-to-do moments” in which people have a need that your brand can help with. It says to find these moments across the whole consumer journey and put them at the center of your strategy. You should also figure out what questions and concerns people have related to the types of projects you sell or the projects they’re used for, and then create the content to serve as resources for those, it says.

Google also suggested looking at when how-to searches occur, and making your videos easier to find by adding descriptive titles, details, and relevant tags to each video. Promoting the videos is another option.

One thing that Mogensen didn’t really get into that is certainly worth considering is how frequently videos appear in Google search results. You have to imagine that there are plenty of these how-to searches happening right on Google.

We recently looked at a study on Google Universal Search trends, and video is the most frequent type of universal result Google shows. They appeared in 55% of search results pages analyzed. While the percentage of search results pages showing video results actually fell over the course of 2014, videos appear more often than anything else by far. 80% of videos displayed in Universal Search results came from YouTube.

Growing Opportunity in Social

Look for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to play bigger roles for shoppable videos as time goes on.

Facebook is doing everything in its power to compete with YouTube in video advertising, and it's even currently testing a feature, which could greatly increase the amount of video people actually consume on Facebook. They're letting users continue to watch videos via a pop-out box as they continue to browse their News Feeds.

Once this goes live on a wider scale, people will no longer have to stop what they're doing on Facebook to consume a video. They can hit the button and play it while they go about their browsing business. It's not inconceivable for Facebook to show related ads in the News Feed as they continue, though we've seen no indication so far that this is the plan.

In addition to stepping up its video game, however, Facebook is also making moves to become a better place for businesses to sell things. In fact, there are even new reports that it's working on some kind of virtual assistant to help people buy things.

There are companies focusing on bringing shoppable videos to Facebook as we speak.

Much like Facebook, Twitter is also rampantly trying to become a better place for businesses to sell items. It recently showed off some new product pages that show a great deal of potential. It's also trying to get businesses to use video more.

Pinterest is now offering "buyable pins," and let's not forget that Pinterest isn't just about static images. It's also full of video.

Shoppable video on YouTube is one thing, but we can expect social to become a much bigger part of the picture once these endeavors get into full swing.

"For shoppable video to be a more effective tool, marketers need to incorporate it into their broader content marketing strategy and use it as an assistant help the customer in their buying journey," says Vebeka Guess at Econsultancy.

She suggests using video as an overview guide to products or services, as a catalog, or as a how-to. She goes on to note that marketers can have trouble quantifying their ROI on shoppable video mainly due to a lack of standardization, which makes it difficult to capture data. She says to find a tech partner that will help you own creation, management, and delivery of shoppable video content and allow for "seamless capture and reporting on meaningful metrics".

According to her, this is the key to shoppable video becoming more widely adopted.

Do you see this becoming part of your strategy in the future? Have you already experimented with it? To what end? Discuss in the comments.

Images via Thinkstock, Google, Facebook, Twitter

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.