Where content and commerce falls short

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For advertising-reliant publishers and platforms, commerce is an elusive golden goose. The news this week that Thrillist is jettisoning Jackthreads is the latest evidence of that, but brands are finding similar challenges integrating on the platform side as well. It turns out that while Instagram and Twitter all want users to be able to shop on their platforms the feed isn’t always the ideal place to make purchases. Here are the top headaches, according to attendees at Advertising Week.

The shift to mobile
“At least with the current setup of online commerce converts more poorly on mobile than on the Web,” said Oliver Roup, CEO, VigLink. “My believe is that that is a result of these experiences being built up around the Web and need to be better adapted to mobile. Things like punching in your credit card on phone and scrolling down a page are just inconvenient and people don’t do them. Things like Apple Pay, where you credentials are cached and you really can just hit a buy button, help give massively better conversion rates. It has a massive effect on reducing friction.”

Inflexible platforms
“The platforms tend to be closed systems and pretty inflexible,” said Jennifer Wong, chief business officer, Popsugar Media. “YouTube only this week opened up product-based ads to overlay ontop of videos. That’s just step one because the environment is still not great for hooking out and learning more details about products. That’s a baby step. Everyone is talking about buy buttons but the environments are just not quite right. The products are just not there yet. My question is, how much commitment is there to commerce versus the core ad business for all these platforms? There’s always going to be tension there.”

In-feed commerce doesn’t easily work for all categories
“If you look at the development of e-commerce over the last 10 years, food is the last bastion thats just now being tacked,” said Brenden Schaefer, marketing director, PepsiCo. “Think about apparel, electronics, and about how Amazon started out with books. Those are all higher value items, which oftentimes involve more consideration. As we think about things, we have to figure out how we integrate with the new environment on the content side. The distribution vehicle might be there, but how do you generate the interest? We’ve experimented with things like Instagram’s buy button, but it’s all still challenging.”

Tech and data
“When it comes to video there are still a lot of challenges. It’s still a bit of a dumb interface,” complained Pete Davies, CEO, NavMotion. “Everyone gets the same experience; there’s no element of personalization. There’s not enough data or analytics. That’s a real challenge for everyone. I don’t think that every peice of video needs to be shoppable, but the format deserves more than it has right now in terms of tech.”

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