The success of media like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest can mostly be explained through the visual nature of these media. In 2017, the large social media channels all expanded their visual possibilities, for example with livestreams and stories. However, the most prominent development can be attributed to Instagram, by adding the possibility of shopping to posts. Here, the channel experiments with the perfect mix of content with a click-through to purchase.
Copy, for example product descriptions, is of course indispensable in a web shop. By means of copy, clients are guided from button to button and know what they agree to. Unfortunately, copy is less suitable to seduce visitors to purchase or click through to more information. However, a good image is. Therefore, the most top marketers in the world are looking for possibilities to make their product sellable in a visual way. When image is used as a dominant instrument to sell a product, we call it visual commerce.
Almost every study shows that the quality of product photography is very important to consumers. Often even more important than product descriptions or client reviews. The basis remains a good series of product photos from different angles, on a white background and with specific detail photos where that’s relevant. But also 360 degrees photos (sometimes even with interactive functions), videos and lifestyle photography (potentially from real consumers) are increasingly becoming a requirement.
When you sell (for example) letter boxes, shutters or cars, you shall notice that consumers want to touch your product before purchasing it. While clients possibly only visited your web shop during the orientation phase, you can diligently add visual cues to seduce your visitor to do more. In 2018, the use of video in particular will exponentially increase. The larger brands will keep engaging augmented reality in 2018, which will know a definitive breakthrough in 2019.
In 2017, many companies invested in video, often primary shared through social media. This trend will continue in 2018, because videos capture the attention even more than photography. Facebook therefore improved its video possibilities while YouTube offered its creators to have more interaction with their followers using social media functionality. For brands as Red Bull (x million subscribers) or Adidas (x million subscribers), a channel like YouTube is essential in the marketing mix. Various studies show that watching a (product) video leads to an increased willingness to purchase.
There is no success formula for a well-functioning video. It’s best to approach your video productions as a form of content marketing, and to give the lead to a screen writer or director. With video content you are excellently positioned to tell a story, for example about the origin of your product. There are however a series of trends with respect to videos.
First of all, most of the videos are being watched on smartphones by now. As a result, the norm that a video has to be landscape has been unsettled. Vertical video has increased exponentially and is supported by all big players by now.
Short videos of 30 or 60 seconds at most were the norm for websites and social media, but they too are slowly falling out of favor. Long form video, video of more than 20 minutes, is increasingly watched. On the other hand, there are the so-called six seconds ads of Google and Facebook. Creatives have successfully engaged this type of advertisements, for example building a sequel of one advertisement on another and that way capture the attention of the viewer time and time again by keeping him curios.
Live video is an important trend too. Not everything has to be perfect anymore and authenticity is key. With a (live) glimpse of the kitchen – a behind the scenes – you bring your company closer to the consumer. Other forms of live video are for example a live Q&A (through social media), product demonstration or commentary of an event.
When you decide to invest in visual commerce in the form of video, then you can make these videos interactive so viewers will actually reach your product pages or contact button.
AUGMENTED REALITY IS THE NEW REALITY
With augmented reality (AR), real-time digital information is added to the real, physical, world around you. Augmented reality thus allows you to see things that can’t be reproduced in a standard product picture. It almost literally joins the online world with the offline world. With the aid of augmented reality, the shopping consumer for example knows in advance how a dress looks on her and whether the chosen table isn’t a change in style for the living room. The best known AR-application is probably that of IKEA, that already in 2014 allowed customers to digitally reproduce a select number of products in their living room.
Usually a specific app on the smartphone is used for AR-applications. Smartphones are increasingly equipped with even more advanced cameras or sensors that enable this. Smartphone manufacturers such as Apple make no secret of the fact that AR is an important part of their product development. In that way, the operating system of iPhone, iOS 11, got a whole series of updates related to Apple’s ARKit platform. Besides smartphones, specific glasses are developed as well for AR-applications.
In the area of visual commerce, the importance of AR was boldly underlined in November 2017 by Amazon. By adding AR View in the iOS app of Amazon, an improved version of IKEA’s application from 2014 became available all at once for thousands of products from countless product categories. Amazon’s augmented reality function is built with Apple’s ARKit and is activated by clicking on the camera icon. In the near future, one can expect that a function like AR View will be integrated in a product page.