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Shoppable Content Will Evolve Toward Sight, Sound and Motion

Though social commerce conversions are still a challenge, the mid-funnel opportunity is growing. Instagram’s continued rollout of shoppable content features is helping brands and influencers spotlight product content and forge a better path to purchase. Pinterest has also introduced features to make it easier for retailers to upload and promote product content. And video-first platforms Snapchat and TikTok are both testing shoppable content features.

“The rise of shoppable content on social media has laid the foundation for the next phase of product discovery: shoppable video,” said Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst and author of our latest report, “The Future of Retail 2020: 10 Trends that Will Shape the Year Ahead.”

“It’s not exactly a new concept; in fact, the popularity of the Home Shopping Network and QVC shows that there’s a consumer appetite for this,” he said. “And Amazon is now trying to become the digital destination for home shopping with Amazon Live, where hosts hock everything from slow cookers to cosmetics throughout the day.”

According to Lipsman, the ultimate use case for shoppable video goes back to early discussions of interactive TV and the ability to buy, for instance, the clothes worn by Rachel on “Friends.” But the reality has not yet materialized in the US, and while it’s unlikely to explode over the next year, there’s reason to believe it will gain early traction in a way it’s never been able to previously.

What’s different this time is a growing familiarity with shoppable content by way of social media (such as with Instagram and Pinterest), more product-related video in ecommerce shopping, stronger image-recognition technology, and increasing adoption of voice commands into the TV browsing experience, which would make in-the-moment shopping more viable.

“The future of shoppable TV is here,” said Dave Morgan, CEO and founder of advanced TV ad provider Simulmedia, noting that shoppable TV's past failures to gain traction have to do with asking any one device to do too much. In its newest incarnation, he said, “TV pitches, and mobile and PC catch. TV ads drive awareness and action, while mobile and PC can be used to listen, qualify, inform and transact.”

In addition to changing consumer habits, media companies are searching for incremental revenues beyond traditional ad sales and have their eyes set on media-driven commerce—and the affiliate fees that come with it.

NBCUniversal introduced shoppable TV ads, which it tested during the French Open in May and June 2019, with Lacoste as its inaugural sponsor. This application of shoppable TV used QR codes at the bottom of the screen, a method that will likely transition to voice as newer TVs and remotes become voice-enabled.

Moreover, new entrants in the over-the-top (OTT) space such as Disney+, NBC’s Peacock and Apple TV+ will bring other assets into the equation—from complementary merchandise to viewers’ payment information. And the adjacency of product to purchase is growing tighter. That means the beginning of shoppable TV may finally be in the cards.

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