Repositioning Social Media To Reap Ecommerce Opportunities

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, September 3, 2019

According to eMarketer, ecommerce sales stemming from mobile devices is expected to rise 25.3% in 2020. This is after being up 28.8% in 2019. By 2020, nearly 50% of all ecommerce sales will be driven through mobile. Even if your client doesn’t sell their product or service online, these stats point to an undeniable trend of consumers being willing to take action on mobile that will impact every industry. 

As this trend plays out, brands will need to make a conscious effort to shift their mix to drive performance on mobile, or risk seeing response slowly deteriorate over time. It’s time to focus less on the new and more on the obvious. 

In this case, the obvious is social. Smart brands will reposition social as not just a brand driver, but also a performance driver. Here are three not-so-obvious reasons to help make the case. 

Time spent on mobile is time spent on social media. 

22% of all time spent on mobile occurs on social platforms, with audio being the only medium that takes a larger share at 33%. Video comes in third at 18% (eMarketer). Much of this audio and video time is spent in areas without ad-supported content making this true reachable audience much lower and more costly than social. Combine this with ad experiences that don’t exactly facilitate easy shopping, audio and video will remain brand building drivers in 2020. 



Meanwhile Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are doing everything they can to make direct response advertising feel more native on their platform. Product feeds can now easily be uploaded and promoted through collection and carousel formats.  Ad experiences load quickly and auto-fill functionality makes it easier than ever to capture user information. 

There is untapped opportunity in social. 

Budgets have been flocking to Facebook and Instagram for some time now and rightfully so. They have the scale, compelling targeting, a variety of ad formats, and maybe most importantly; an incredibly intuitive UI. Meanwhile Pinterest and Snapchat have grown somewhat quietly to critical mass. 

Let’s look at US social network users by platform. Facebook is tops with 171.5M users. Second is Instagram with 106.7M, followed by Pinterest at 78.7M and then Snapchat at 77.5M (eMarketer, March 2019). 

Now let’s look at ARPU (Ad Revenue Per User) as a loose indication for where marketers are spending their money relative to the user base. Instagram is expected to collect $103.48 per user in 2020. By comparison, Pinterest and Snap are projected to have ARPUs of $11.99 and $10.57, respectively. Even factoring in brand safety concerns with Snap and skewed demographics with Pinterest, there is a clear imbalance of budgets here that should not be ignored. 

Not to say Instagram has reached saturation, but brands have a massive opportunity in Snap and Pinterest for less clutter, more attention and a higher share of voice. The secret is out too. Just open up with Snapchat and you’ll find a DTC brand waiting. Hello, Away. Hello, Purple. 

The decline of cookie-based targeting actually HELPS social channels. 

You can’t have an article on digital without discussing Apple’s ITP rollout and the impact of tracking crackdowns. These changes have all but killed third-party cookies; used commonly to fuel behavioral targeting across the web. No doubt these changes will have a broad impact across the industry but relatively speaking, the social networks have come out largely unscathed; especially in terms of targeting. After all, these platforms are built off actual people. 

In this new cookie-less age, brands will become forced to rely more on a combination of their own first-party data, a publisher’s second-party data and even old-school contextual targeting to deliver relevant messaging at the right time. Social platforms can check all three boxes: they can match and model off CRM data with high confidence. They have a data set built based on what individuals are spending time with on their platform. And lastly as a marketer, you know exactly the context in which the user is seeing your ad. No surprises. Cookies be damned. Social’s targeting advantages aren’t going anywhere. 

Sometimes the obvious choice is the right choice, for not-so-obvious reasons. 


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