If 2020 was shoppable video’s breakthrough year, 2021 will see it hit the big time. Fast gaining recognition as a perfect fit for “shop as you scroll’ culture before COVID-19, the format has won global popularity following rapid ecommerce expansion — with marketers significantly boosting their investment and major social media platforms, such as TikTok and Facebook, embracing live interactive shopping. But as enthusiasm for this powerful fusion of engaging content and instant purchasing increases, there will be one vital factor to keep in mind: competition.
Any company aiming for shoppable success needs an in-depth understanding of what it takes to quickly attract and hold consumer attention. And to achieve that, smart application of A/B testing is essential.
What makes A/B testing so vital now?
Estimates of how much digital video consumption has risen during the pandemic vary; with some studies showing 15-minute growth in total viewing and others finding UK adults have spent six and half hours per day watching TV and video. Either way, it’s clear video has enhanced its appeal and — according to the latest IPA Bellwether report — marketers are keen to harness that power; with 4.6% expecting to up their budgets for main media channels, including video.
This, however, is exactly what makes leveraging refined A/B testing more crucial than ever. Amid high competition and pressure to drive returns, accurate insight into ad impact is paramount to maximise video performance. In fact, the versatile nature of shoppable video means multi-faceted testing is particularly vital for pinpointing the blend of factors needed to deliver captivating experiences.
Hotspots are a prime example. These advanced tools can be used to introduce interactivity for all video elements; meaning precise testing is key to track and improve performance. But there is also scope for variability when it comes to calls-to-action (CTAs) within hotspots — such as ‘purchase now’ or ’find out more’ buttons — and diverse creative components, from video length and audio to numerous video story pathways. Only by experimenting with an array of hotspot placements, CTAs, durations, narrative options, and soundscapes can marketers find what creates the ideal shoppable video formula for each consumer and fuel greater engagement.
Not just about playing the long game
The most obvious application for A/B testing is, of course, driving incremental outcomes. As most marketers will know, the more they learn about their audiences, the more closely ads can be tailored to unique preferences, thereby increasing the chances of lasting relationships and loyalty. But the insights generated by trailing different ad elements aren’t just useful for fuelling long-term rewards, they can also help to better-guide short-term activity.
As the industry increasingly shifts to programmatic ad-buying and delivery, shoppable video platforms are upping their efficiency. Advanced capabilities such as the capacity to run closed-loop transactions in programmatic ad reels have paved the way for complete in-video purchases, without redirects to external sites. Meanwhile, real-time performance analysis is providing faster access to granular audience data, going further than how long consumers view and where they drop off to encompass which hotspots and CTAs individuals click on, as well as the video narratives and background audio they prefer.
On its own, this detailed information offers a robust basis for in-the-moment personalisation. When used in tandem with A/B testing, it can enable both sharper targeting and smarter spending. In addition to identifying what will strike the right chord for each consumer, insights about the impact ads make can be tapped to inform strategic budget allocation where investment is direct towards high-performing variations and away from less-engaging ads.
Shoppable video might be on the brink of global domination, but marketers mustn’t assume that simply moving with the tide is enough. While adding interactivity to video ads will increase the likelihood of capturing consumer attention, ensuring effectiveness depends on precision. The key tool every company needs for shoppable success is A/B testing that gives them a comprehensive window into which elements are required to build an optimally engaging, inspiring, and profitable experience.