Have you ever watched a video or even an ad and been enamored with something the subject was wearing or using? How do you track those items down? In sponsored videos they are generally called out by the host or listed in the video description, but what about those that are not? With 60% of consumers willing to make a purchase through social media, how do brands leverage digital platforms as the new shopping destinations? Software companies such as Clicktivated, WireWax, and Cinematique work with brands to create various levels of clickable videos. See something you like? Click on it to learn more. YouTube, who has featured clickable ads and calls to action for some time, is rolling out shoppable videos, with annotations featuring product visuals and outbound links to product’s purchase page. From the consumers’ perspective, shoppable videos streamline the discovery and shopping experience, making it easy to recognize a desired product and locate a purchase location. However, not all shoppable videos are created equal. Each platform offers a direct link for consumers to shop but different user interfaces.
YouTube’s new ad offering will feature an expansion of their current card annotations and TrueView ads which were rolled out last spring. As shoppable products appear in the video an icon will appear in the upper corner. Clicking on the icon will open overlays displaying product information and outbound links to the retailer’s site. Once a card is clicked the video will pause and viewers will be directed to a new window for the product site. The new shopping cards will allow advertisers as well as content creators to utilize the functions of TrueView ads within video content, where as previous offerings only allowed advertisers to display cards on videos they created or partnered with a creator on. For YouTube this expansion to ad offerings could create a lucrative new revenue stream, with advertisers being charged any time a consumer clicks on the outbound cards. With the number of product related video views increasing 40% over the last year the ability to shop from videos helps cement the platform as a trusted resource in the consumer shopping experience. However, it is important to note that these cards do not appear in mobile browsers; instead they only appear when videos are viewed in YouTube’s native app. As mobile commerce continues to increase, this requirement could prove troublesome for the ad revenue of content creators and YouTube.
While YouTube holds the spotlight due to the platform’s reach and size, it is not the only option for shoppable videos. There are several companies that offer video design services for videos hosted away from YouTube. WireWax, which allows self-serve creation as well as agency assisted, utilizes hot spots within the videos to drive traffic to outbound sources. Visual cues appear in the video to drive clicks. Once a hot spot is clicked a light box appears to display the content. Consumers then have the option of following links included in the content or closing the light box to return to the video and continue watching or explore additional content. Unlike YouTube where the overlay appears to the side while the video continues, WireWax videos pause once a hot spot is selected as the overlay often blocks the video content. WireWax videos are viewable on both mobile and desktop, which ensures that mobile viewers do not miss out on the chance to further explore embedded content.
What about advertisers and publishers that prefer a less intrusive approach to shoppable video? While the visual hot spot approach increases the odds of viewer exposure to the outbound links, the light boxes that appear on the videos can be distracting and, to some, annoying. For videos that feature multiple products, users may also have to view the links for products that do not interest them before seeing what they want. Platforms such as Clicktivated and Cinematique give viewers control of the shopping experience, allowing them to curate a collection of products that interest them. Clicktivated videos allow viewers to click directly on the items that interest them at any point in the video. Once items are clicked a sidebar will appear with product information and outbound links to all products selected. The video continues to play as items are added but pauses when the viewer further explores the selections in the sidebar.
With Cinematique, viewers create a “boutique” of the items they are interested in by clicking on them throughout the video. The boutique is accessed by clicking an icon at the foot of the video and can be accessed at any point. Clicking the icon will pause the video and shift the screen to reveal the items selected. Cinematique videos can be embedded across the web but, like YouTube, require the viewer to download their app to utilize the click functionality on mobile. In differentiating between Cinematique and Clicktivated a key difference is Clicktivated’s functionality across devices and browsers without the need of an app. This lack of a barrier to purchase is important to keep in mind as brands work to match consumer shopping trends.
Social shopping delivered $3.3 billion in revenue for the top 500 retailers in 2014 and is continuing to grow in 2015. As brands look to grow their reach and recall they can find a lucrative tool in shoppable video. Which tool these brands utilize will depend on their strategic approach to digital reach and traffic.