Commerce content – what is it and why should we embrace it?

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Date: 19 April 2022

An influencer demonstrates make up products

It goes without saying that the pandemic has massively accelerated the shift to online. For a start, the number of Shopify stores skyrocketed from 1 million in 2020 to 2.66 million in 2022. 

The rise of consumerism is also partly due to the addictive nature of speedy, convenient shopping - including that dopamine hit that people experience when they come home to a package on their doorstep.

The increased choice of what to buy now makes it extremely difficult for brands to stand out. Combined with the higher cost of ads (the average Facebook CPM has increased by about 40% since March 2020), this means it’s nearly impossible for a brand to cut through and connect with consumers. One solution lies in influencers - specifically, the creators reviewing products for their online audiences - and how brands can partner with them.David Yovanno, ceo of Impact.com

A brief history of trust

Do consumers trust the information in ads? Not automatically, and most marketers realise that trust must be earned during the course of building a brand. But how else can brands reach their customers, if not through advertising? In the past, there were a small number of radio and TV channels, with only a handful of advertisers because ads were so expensive. Those who could afford it dominated the media, even if their messaging was inaccurate. Everyone learned to accept the fact that the Big Mac looked beautiful in the ads, but the reality of what arrived when you ordered it was likely to be different.

When the internet came of age, people started to lose trust in advertisers due to email spam, pop-ups, and retargeting. In parallel, the rise in social publishing platforms enabled consumers to take control themselves of creating and spreading more accurate information about products. Today, consumers trust the authentic opinions coming from creators and influencers - as well as recommendations from other businesses - far more than the ads for the same products. 

Adopt, adapt and authenticate

So, what prevents creators from misleading their audiences? For a start, they risk losing subscribers and followers, which are a measure of their influence. There are also comments from people who can call them out, where others can voice their own (often differing) experiences. Most creators have more loyalty to their audience and customers than to any brand they may talk about. They are trying to make informative content for their audience, and in an authentic way, because that’s what consumers will ultimately discover anyway.

When consumers view a YouTuber’s video about a product, most of them skip the ads because they’re there to watch someone else’s review and opinion on the product. The video description contains a list of the products talked about, and affiliate links to purchase them. These links attribute the sales to the creator. This way, the brand receives sales, and the creator is paid for their work. Today’s consumers are seeking out the content - information on products, how to use them, and what others think of them. This is what’s fuelling the ‘creator economy’ and their important role in the larger ‘partnership economy.’

But isn’t receiving payment for content a conflict of interest for creators? Believe it or not, creators can describe aspects of products they dislike, as well as like, and visitors will still purchase. This is because consumers value authenticity, and brands need to move past the notion of trying to fully control the narrative and painting a perfect image of themselves, that is not reality. It’s time for brands to fully embrace others talking more authentically about their products, and it’s up to them to forge an alliance with these creators, publishers and other businesses in an effort to be part of the commercial information that is being created and is now in high demand.

Commerce content - a new synergy for brands and publishers

Campaign advertising is ‘coin-operated’, meaning you put coins in, and you get impressions or clicks back. If you stop inserting coins, you stop receiving impressions and clicks. In contrast, although influencer partnerships take a bit more work to initially set up, they generate long-term residual sales for brands, and also evergreen sources of income for creators. YouTube videos with affiliate links can generate sales for years. They’re also first-party tracking, so recent changes in legal regulation and the loss of third-party cookies don’t apply.

One retailer saw 470% year-on-year growth, thanks to affiliate partnerships. Meanwhile, a major US publisher told us that over the last three years, their commerce content revenue grew ten times, and their commerce content team grew from three people to 80. Additionally, they decided to completely remove ads from some of their commerce content pages to instead focus on partnerships and affiliate links. This alone resulted in a threefold increase in ROI on these pages. This is a revolution for publisher monetisation and has come at the perfect time. Publishers have been squeezed by ad tech middlemen for decades, and have recently lost the ability to effectively target ads, with the loss of IDFA and other tracking and measurement capabilities by big tech updates.

What brands and creators need now is an easier way to establish and manage partnerships. With the release of new tools, retailers will find it exciting to discover, easy to manage, and efficient to scale influencer partnerships and affiliate marketing via a cloud solution. There are even apps which can simplify this process even further for ecommerce merchants by connecting directly to platforms like Shopify.

Brands need to realise that the ads they run no longer control the narrative and have lost influence on the consumer. If marketing is to be cost effective in a highly competitive environment, brands need to understand what information consumers are seeking about their products, and the influencers which their target customer's trust. And yes, influencers can be remunerated for creating authentic content. Affiliate partnerships are a revolutionary way of marketing and will become more important in 2022 and beyond.

Copyright 2022. Sponsored article made possible by David Yovanno, ceo of impact.com

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