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GUEST COMMENT Video isn’t just window shopping: how interactive content can boost sales

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If you’ve had anything to do with digital marketing over the past five years or so, you’ve no doubt been told that video is about to change the face of advertising forever – but so far, it hasn’t quite happened in the way we’ve been promised.

However, as internet speeds improve and video ads become more commercially viable, that could all be about to change. In fact, research suggests that video will soon account for a whopping 82% of all consumer Internet traffic and if the latest trends are anything to go by, then it’s only a matter of time before video becomes the dominant online advertising format.

If you’re still not convinced by the power of video, then consider the fact that some of the world’s largest companies are claiming that it already provides a better return-on-ad-spend than traditional display. And now, interactive, ‘shoppable’ video ads are poised to make video an even more enticing prospect for advertisers and audiences alike.

Clickable content

Online video advertising has historically been a ‘passive’ form of marketing; much like traditional TV advertising, the audience are presented with a video, they watch it, and that’s essentially where the exchange ends. From there, it’s up to the consumer to reach out to the advertiser and make a purchase – frankly, it’s all a bit ‘twentieth century’.

However, shoppable video ads promise to turn video advertising on its head by making a once passive format into an interactive one. This new breed of video ad contains dynamic, clickable links within the video itself, which can lead either to tailor-made product landing pages, or even to an integrated shopping basket, meaning the purchase can be completed there and then.

This benefits advertisers in two ways. Firstly, it capitalises on user intent ‘in the moment’. With shoppable video ads, there’s no ‘cooling off’ period, which means the audience are far less likely to change their minds, forget about the ad, or worse, buy a similar product from a competitor. Users see something they like, click on it, and voila – the transaction is completed. This also benefits the consumer by streamlining the buying process and taking the legwork out of making a purchase. It’s a win-win situation.

Secondly, it makes the whole process far more accountable in terms of proving return on investment. With TV ads, the only metric you can really rely upon is impression volume – after that, there’s no real way of knowing how many of the people who saw the ad went on to make a purchase. This makes proving ROI extremely difficult.

Online video ad solutions like YouTube’s TrueView offering have made tracking a lot more reliable, but they still don’t account for people who see the ad and return to the advertiser to make a purchase later on. Shoppable video ads minimise the chances of this happening by capitalising on user impulses, shortening the path to purchase and providing a kind of shortcut through the customer journey.

Given the potential benefits to consumers and advertisers alike, it’s fair to say that shoppable video will soon form an important part of any video marketing strategy. We’ve discussed the theory; now let’s take a look at a real-world example and see how shoppable video can work in practice.

Mission impeccable

Perhaps not surprisingly, the fashion world has been quick to cotton onto shoppable video. Ted Baker recently enlisted the help of the inimitable Guy Ritchie for their ‘Mission Impeccable’ campaign, a deliciously camp nod to the old-school style and glamour of the James Bond movie franchise.

While the shoppable element in the YouTube video is fairly rudimentary, they fully embraced interactivity on a separate video hosted on the Ted Baker website:

Unfortunately, this being the fickle world of fashion, the video has now been removed to make way for their spring/summer collection. However, when it was up and running, the user could click on the ‘plus’ icons to save the desired item to a bespoke shopping basket, making for a deeply immersive shopping experience.

The retailer went on to record a 35% uplift in ecommerce sales over the holiday period, so you can expect to see many more shoppable videos in the run up to Christmas 2017 – including, perhaps, a shoppable John Lewis ad.

Wired for vision

There’s something about video that we as humans find compelling – and it’s partly down to biology. From the moment we first open our eyes as as infants, we’re hardwired to respond to movement, which is one of the things that makes video ads so innately appealing. It also explains why cinema was, arguably, the dominant art form of the twentieth century.

It may have taken technology a while to catch up with demand, but shoppable video ads have the potential to humanise advertising by making it more akin to the world as we experience it, resulting in a more rewarding, ‘authentic’ buying experience – and as more and more of our online activity takes place on tablets and mobiles with touchscreen technology, the process will become even more tactile and true to life.

That’s why I’ve included shoppable video ads in my top three video marketing trends to watch out for in 2017.

Jon Mowat is the MD of the shoppable video agency Hurricane.

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