E-Commerce is Taking Over Social Apps
October 3, 2018

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As platforms adapt to find and expand their niche in a crowded market, some are shifting their focus to lean into America’s shopping compulsion.

New in Digital is a blog series dedicated to highlighting digital news from across the web and explaining what those developments mean for organizations in the public affairs environment.

As platforms adapt to find and expand their niche in a crowded market, some are shifting their focus to lean into America’s shopping compulsion. Snapchat’s tumultuous 2018 has led to adding an e-commerce functionality while Facebook is welcoming advertisers to their Stories function (even though users may not).

Snapchat’s evolution

Once considered the next-big-thing, Snapchat has seen a decline in users and engagements since making some questionable changes earlier this year. Possibly hoping to recapture a certain demographic, the app has pivoted to e-commerce and shopping.

Now, a feature called Visual Search will allow a user to identify objects and shop for almost anything (eventually) through an Amazon integration. All a user needs to do is point the camera at an object, tap and hold. Then, an Amazon card pops up with links to the product or similar products. While the integration is still in its early stages, it’s worth keeping an eye on this to see if it becomes a realistic channel for Amazon sales. How many people will use it and ultimately purchase products? Will Amazon limit Visual Search to verified items or will counterfeit goods sneak into shopping results? Will resellers who use Amazon as a store benefit?

Another element of Snapchat’s e-commerce strategy is the introduction of  Shoppable Snaps in time for the holiday season. These ads will compete with other content on the platform, allowing businesses to import their catalogs so shoppers can click and spend right inside the app.

Facebook expanding Stories capability

After seeing the success of brands advertising and promoted content on Instagram Stories, Facebook decided to follow suit. Businesses can put their ads on Facebook Stories. Unlike an ad on Facebook which takes up part of the screen, a Facebook Story ad takes up the entire screen, allowing for a more “immersive environment” for the user. During these first few weeks, advertisers who haven’t yet adopted to the vertical video format will engage in a mad scramble for this fresh marketing inventory (which for the time being may be more affordable than ads on Instagram stories). We’ll see if the caché of Facebook stories persists as the platform still sees contraction in its monthly user base.

There’s no doubt more people do their shopping digitally. We’re surrounded by advertising. With these deeper integrations, social media platforms are working hard to protect their own market share — and relevance — by making it easy to separate people from their money.

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