COVID-19 has fast-forwarded several prominent consumer behavior trends in the marketing space — a major one centering around online shopping where tech giants are shifting their investment dollars in the hopes of propelling their growth on the other side.
Earlier this spring Pinterest introduced new ways to shop from pins, from pin boards, and directly from search results. More recently, Facebook and Instagram rolled out “Shops,” essentially converting business profiles into online storefronts and tested shopping tags in captions. Separately, Snapchat unveiled an expansion of dynamic ads for e-commerce retailers in June.
Building a stronger e-commerce presence through video ads
Looking ahead, YouTube unveiled several updates to its platform in a push to help marketers capitalize on the growing trends of e-commerce and online video. Primarily, a new ad format called “Direct Response” will enable brands to add browsable product imagery to their videos to make them more actionable and shoppable.
“As businesses begin to reopen, they have an opportunity to use video to drive both online and offline actions on YouTube, where 70 percent of people say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on our platform,” YouTube’s parent company Google explained in the official announcement.
As a result of using the new format in a test phase ahead of its spring 2020 campaign, Aerie, the underwear company owned by American Eagle, reported sales conversions 9x higher than that garnered by its traditional media stack. The company also reported a 25 percent higher return on ad spend compared to 2019.
To use the ad format, retailers will need to synchronize their Google Merchant Center feed to their video ads, per the announcement. Ultimately, they will also be able to place greater emphasis on certain products through an expanded call-to-action button.
A more cost-effective way to boost conversion rates
Limited marketing budgets and other key resources have put significant strains on marketers these past few months but this hasn’t kept them from seeking more simple, cost-effective ways to drive reach and convert demand. As part of the update, YouTube announced Video Action Campaigns that will automatically distribute video ads “that drive action” to the YouTube home feed, watch pages, and Google video partners, all within a single campaign.
“In the last few months, Mos saw 30 percent more purchases for their service at a third of the cost compared to their previous YouTube benchmarks,” Google stated of the startup that seeks to help students find funds for college to avoid large debts. As a newer company, it was eager to test the campaigns to gauge how quickly it could scale.
Adding transparency around a consumer’s path to purchase
Beyond building an e-commerce presence, YouTube is cognizant of the fact that in the digital age the process for tracing the exact origins of a conversion and keeping tabs on a consumer’s full path to purchase isn’t always clear. To address this, brands will be able to evaluate their efforts on YouTube directly from their Google Ads attribution reports. There are two major benefits of this including having a better understanding of how to allocate ad budgets and what new tools to consider in addition to enhanced transparency around your Google ads campaigns.
Overall, the effort is not only one to create an even playing field around emerging formats like video, but more importantly, to help marketers save valuable time to put against broader strategic initiatives such as aligning creative with the right message for a particular audience.
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