New shoppable ad tech creates opportunities across AR, search and voice

Discussion
Sources: Fishermen Labs; Google
Mar 14, 2019
Gabriela Baiter

Shopping looks a little different in 2019. With 70 percent of customers more likely to purchase when information is customized by their location and 50 percent of shoppers inspired to purchase via an image, shopping has gotten more complex, requiring platforms to frequently iterate and adapt.

These trends were made apparent at Shoptalk last week, with Snapchat, Amazon and Google all addressing important changes in their ad formats.

In augmented reality, Snapchat seems to be the dominant player. The platform has expanded its AR lens capabilities like target tracking that allows brands to affix immersive content directly to a real-life item versus having the product solely serve as a visual marker to unlock it digitally. The most promising early example we’ve seen of this came from Adidas, which used the feature at the House of Hoops to recreate Lebron James’ very first iconic dunk as an L.A. Laker. While the future of AR is still uncertain, this example certainly showcases Snapchat’s potential for brands.

At Shoptalk, David Isbitsky, chief evangelist for Amazon Alexa, took the stage to tackle voice commerce. With over 80,000 skills already uploaded to Alexa from world class brands, Alexa seems to know it all. Rather than going to a destination to shop, Amazon’s goal is for Alexa to allow people to conveniently shop “in the moment.”

Mr. Isbitsky described the voice tech as “the new HTML,” fully expecting “Alexa’s speed and convenience will quickly change consumer behavior” despite still being in the early days of voice commerce. Brands that see speed as being of the essence are ideally matched to take advantage of this new frontier.

And lastly, in search, we heard from Surojit Chatterjee, vice president of product management at Google, who announced updates that allow retailers to create richer “shoppable” content while they search. By letting brands upload product information to paid and unpaid images, customers can get to what they need faster, removing the hundreds of touchpoints they are expected to encounter when they shop. “By bringing the ad to a Google image search, brands can reach consumers at the beginning of their purchase journey,” said Mr. Chatterjee.

While this might be a simple update, it was obvious that this feature directly competes with Pinterest, leading to increased capabilities for retailers already advertising across Google’s properties.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where do you see the greatest opportunities — AR, search, voice — for shoppable ads to take off? Do you think brands and retailers have identified and budgeted to take advantage of the shoppable advertising opportunity?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Once consumers start figuring out how powerful searching with their cameras can be, I think visual search will take off."
"The bottom line will come down to the cost of the AR ads versus how effective they will be."
"The opportunity of all of these technologies is to better serve the consumer in different need states and contexts and they will all have a role to play."

Join the Discussion!

9 Comments on "New shoppable ad tech creates opportunities across AR, search and voice"


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Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Retail magic is all about sparking the imagination, and what’s better at doing that than augmented reality? Customers love to engage and by connecting popular social media apps such as Snapchat with brands, Foot Locker with their LeBron James interactive ad is leading the charge. These types of ads also enable consumers to use their mobile devices for an enhanced shopping experience.

Whether it’s apparent or not, artificial intelligence is already embedded within retailers’ and brands’ social media strategies, targeted ads/emails and the way we search and engage with brands. The millions of data points are slowly being harnessed as companies are slowly integrating AI technologies within their merchandising strategies. Amazon, Google with their personalization strategies, and now Instagram, with their shop now capabilities are leading the charge with the latest innovations.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust
I’m not sure I see the big win here at all. Ads are ads, and they have to have appeal to the consumer and create an incentive to buy, so nothing new there. However, the bottom line will come down to the cost of the AR ads versus how effective they will be. I have become very skeptical with all the data that shows how important technology is for this and for that because all of the data comes from the companies selling the technology and there is no doubt they have a strong bias. I have often challenged the statistic that 84 percent of shoppers use their phones while shopping. That is a hugely distorted number because the customer may be holding their phone, speaking on their phone, texting or looking at an email, but the majority of those customers are not “using” the phone for shopping. So, I caution all retailers on what they invest in unproven technology. Will an AR ad motivate a customer to make a purchase? Possibly but I don’t… Read more »
Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

While I think Gab is totally right that all three of these technologies will impact how we shop in the future, I think visual search may hold the most immediate short-term potential for brands. Pinterest Lens is already converting at extremely high rates, and Google Lens continues to fly under the radar while they keep adding features and sophistication. Once consumers start figuring out how powerful searching with their cameras can be, I think visual search will take off – and it would behoove retailers to understand the implications to SEO now, so they are ready when shoppers are ready.

Gabriela Baiter
Staff

Totally agree Dave! I was surprised Google didn’t make these changes months ago for retailers and brands already advertising heavily on their platforms. Also glad they’re allowing retailers to leverage it both through paid and organic search. Definitely a customer first offering on Google’s part.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

“Shoppable ads” are the beginning of a new retail experience, not an end state.

AR, search and voice commerce are all parts of a new “whole” that will fully connect consumers to a radically redefined shopping experience, one that can be engaged and customized anytime and anywhere.

They are tools in the future of retail’s tool box which — on their own — represent incremental opportunities but together, along with other emerging retail technologies, will create exponential change.

And no, I don’t see branders or retailers engaging at what I consider to be the right level. Playing at implementing point solutions is a dangerous game, especially in the face of a more sophisticated, and therefore more demanding, consumer.

I’m afraid lots of CPG and retail companies will be tweaking their AR capabilities all the way to bankruptcy court while a whole new crop of companies offering an integrated portfolio of complimentary digital tools sweep the market.

Susan O'Neal
BrainTrust
5 months 6 days ago
Closing the gap between a consumer need/want and the satisfaction of that need/want is where retail sales will be won or lost. To the extent that a consumer knows precisely what they want, efficient shoppable tech – like voice or basic search – will win that sale. To the extent that the consumer knows what they want but not as precisely – say they know what the product they want looks like, but they don’t know what it’s called – adding imagery to search will win the sale. If the consumer has a need, but doesn’t know which product is the best to satisfy the need – a more involved context will be needed to win the sale. And finally, to go all the way up the funnel, inspiring consumers toward a need/want state will involve something different entirely. Moral of the story – the opportunity of all of these technologies is to better serve the consumer in different need states and contexts and they will all have a role to play. The only ad… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

AR is very slowly gaining some traction in specialized markets. This tech has definitely taken some time to get a foothold. Search is reaching a maturity, where voice is actually still in its infancy globally. Quite simply, brands need to ensure they can adapt to any trend tsunami that happens so they won’t be looked at as a “me-too” brand.

David Naumann
BrainTrust
David Naumann
Vice President, Retail Marketing, enVista
5 months 6 days ago

Shoppable ads, AR and voice-assisted ordering are all dramatically changing the shopping process. These technologies are all evolving very quickly and getting better every day.

I think voice-assisted shopping will be most impactful on the future shopping experience. Voice-assisted speakers are now becoming a standard feature for phones, cars and homes and consumers are getting more used to using them for a plethora of activities — navigation, music selection and volume, home controls, and the list goes on.

As we become more comfortable with the voice-assisted mode for all the activities, consumers will more quickly try and embrace voice-assisted shopping and buying. And as the voice recognition and response gets more accurate — watch out!

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Technology is so inadequate that today we can’t get video to run reliably in stores. So people are selling AR as a highly reliable approach that will take off? Count me down as a skeptic.

These vendors all have a lot to gain by selling their claims. So, once again, put me down as a skeptic.

Certainly there are tremendous tech opportunities. But the inherent sci-fi like nature of this pitch suggests it’s not real. If they had real power to offer, they wouldn’t have to dress it up so much.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Once consumers start figuring out how powerful searching with their cameras can be, I think visual search will take off."
"The bottom line will come down to the cost of the AR ads versus how effective they will be."
"The opportunity of all of these technologies is to better serve the consumer in different need states and contexts and they will all have a role to play."

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