July 21, 2020: Instagram launches new “Shop” Tab in Explore; Amazon adds live streaming to Influencer Program; Hulu tests self-service ad manager
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Shop Til’ You Drop on Instagram
Instagram has added a new “Shop” Tab in Explore, allowing for the next phase of on-platform shopping.
Give me the deets.
Last week, Instagram announced the official roll out of a dedicated Shop page within the Explore tab, making it easier for users to buy from brands and creators directly within a single feed. ICYMI — Instagram Shop was launched earlier this year as “a place to browse products from favorite brands and creators, as well as curated collections published by the Instagram-run @shop account.” Now, within the Explore feed, users will be shown personalized product recommendations based on the accounts they follow and the brands that are using Instagram’s product listings. And, get this — in the coming months, customers will also be able to checkout seamlessly with Facebook Pay.
Brands looking to get their products featured within the Explore tab can see Instagram’s step-by-step instructions here.
Instagram is, yet again, making it easier for users to shop within the app — all within the comfort of their homes (no mask required). Of course, the timing of this launch is no mistake. With the surge of online ordering and social media usage among consumers stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, Instagram knows its users are ready to buy, and it’s giving brands a direct avenue to millions of these consumers. What’s in it for Instagram, you may ask? Revenue. To the tune of 5% of each order, to be exact.
For brands, the introduction of Instagram Shop provides a tremendous opportunity to directly integrate influencer-generated content with sales, reducing friction throughout the buyer journey and further accelerating consumers’ paths-to-purchase. Forget adding “swipe ups” or “link in bio” — Instagram Shop is quite literally consumers’ one-stop-shop for all things shopping on Instagram.
While there’s no denying Instagram Shop can and will accelerate consumers’ paths-to-purchase, why stop there? In this new ecosystem, brands selling within Instagram Shop will soon become table stakes — much like we’ve seen with influencer-generated content in the main feed. The whole point of Instagram integrating Facebook Pay into Instagram Shop is so that users don’t need to leave the app to complete a purchase. o, as a brand, why make consumers leave the app to find reviews of your product? Brands who really want to capture consumers’ attention (and dollars!) have the opportunity to further ratings, reviews and other forms of social proof (duh – branded influencer content!) into this new, frictionless buyer journey.
Live, From Amazon
Amazon has officially added live streaming to its existing Amazon Influencer Program which, up until now, allowed influencers to earn money by pointing followers to their favorite Amazon products through posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Back up, tell me about Amazon’s Influencer Program.
First launched in 2017, the Influencer Program was initially part of Amazon’s larger effort to capitalize on the growing trend of influencer marketing as a way to drive sales. Unlike the Amazon Associates program, the Influencer Program requires approval to join and it gives influencers their own page with an Amazon URL to showcase their recommendations. To read more on Amazon’s influencer marketing ecosystem, check out this post.
And now, live streaming?
While video isn’t entirely new to the program, the new live streaming option is focused on its own Amazon Live service. On Amazon Live shows, hosts (who previously weren’t influencers), talk about and demonstrate products (think: Amazon’s take on QVC). Under the video, a carousel guides consumers to purchase the items featured and commissions are paid on products they sell.
Now, influencers will have the option to use the Amazon Live Creator app to live stream and chat with viewers as they showcase the products to be shopped. Influencers who stream on Amazon Live as part of the new program will have their videos streamed on Amazon Live as well as their own Amazon storefront. As they grow their fan base, they can move up levels from “Rising Star” to “Insider” to “A-List,” with each tier unlocking different rewards.
What’s Amazon saying?
“We’re focused on bringing customers fun and interactive shopping experiences, while also helping influencers grow their businesses on Amazon. Live Streaming enables creativity, connection, and inspiration, and the opportunities are endless.” — Munira Rahemtulla, Director of Amazon Live
The addition of live streaming to Amazon’s Influencer Program makes sense on so many fronts, especially given the recent rise in live streaming among brands, influencers and consumers.
Amazon is likely looking to not only capitalize on that trend, but is also looking to add a dimension of trust to its already established live streaming service. Whereas Amazon Live has shown initial promise since its launch in Feb 2019 — it lacked a common dimension: trust. By involving influencers who already have an established audience of consumers who trust them, Amazon is further helping to remove friction at the point of the sale as well as expand its pre-existing programming among a wider audience.
For brands who have an Amazon presence, this is an additional touchpoint that you now have the opportunity to add to your strategy. In order to account for the volume of content needed for success on Amazon Live (or any product review live stream), as part of your next influencer brief, make sure to not only have influencers create a breadth of content (Instagram, YouTube, Amazon reviews, etc.), but also ensure that you have a breadth of overly product-centric content vs. lifestyle or outfit of the day (OOTD) type content.
Watch What Hulu Is Doing with Ads
Disney-owned Hulu has begun testing a self-service ad platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. The platform, Hulu Ad Manager, will let a company activate, manage and track a campaign for as little as $500.
Hulu Ad Manager supports 15- and 30-second video ads, and lets businesses use one ad per campaign. Brands will have the ability to target audiences by age, gender, location, interests and content they watch (advertisers can’t choose specific shows, but can select broader genres that include multiple shows). On the reporting side, advertisers will be able to see hourly updates showing how many impressions have been delivered and how much money they’ve spent, but will not have access to more detailed breakdowns, like the specific programs that carried an advertiser’s ad.
Why should I care?
Streaming TV viewing is increasing, and the number of consumers who choose streaming as their primary source of TV is increasing, too. Today, 90% of all 13-54-year-olds watch TV on a streaming platform. It’s no longer about if your target consumer is engaging with streaming services, it’s about where, when and how often.
While Hulu isn’t the only streaming company to debut a self-serve tool this year (see: Roku’s OneView), Hulu Ad Manager is unique because of its extremely low minimum spend requirement which allows businesses of all sizes to try it out — not just those with the big TV budgets.
It’s also worth noting that Hulu’s announcement also comes the same day as Comcast’s NBCUniversal launches Peacock, its new TV and movie service that will compete directly with Hulu, among other streaming services.
For so long, Hulu has been widely recognized as an expensive platform for ads which, as Hulu notes, has resulted in the platform primarily working with many of the top 200 brands in the U.S. that want to reach a mass audience. Now, by lowering the minimum spend requirement and opening up a self-service platform, Hulu appears to be taking a page out of social media platforms’ playbooks and opening itself up for greater diversification of revenue among a broader base of customers. While initially, it’s likely that this self-service ad tool will likely pull budgets from traditional channels like local TV and radio, over time, the tool could help Hulu steal ad dollars from other video platforms, like YouTube. It’s worth noting that, if Hulu sees initial success with this, it’s probable that we could see an avalanche of other streaming platforms follow suit.
With the barrier to entry set at $500, Hulu’s self-service ad platform could be the next test and learn for brands. Brands have the opportunity to partner with influencers to create a 15-30 second video to test as an ad on Hulu. Even better — who says the content has to be net new? Brands can think about repurposing snippets from high-performing content on YouTube or TikTok.