Thinking of going shoppable? Don’t forget to A/B test your video ads

Rayhan Perera is CEO and founder of OneDash.

Shoppable video is poised for stardom. Expected to soon become one of advertising’s fastest growing categories, the format is already gaining sizeable investment; with marketing spend climbing by 40% this year in the US alone, up from 33% in 2019.

Much of this meteoric rise is due to the recent ecommerce boom. Amid rapid acceleration in online purchasing — now accounting for 16.4% of all global sales — the blend of commerce and content that shoppable media provides has heightened appeal for every business. But it’s also well placed to meet the needs of consumers used to on-demand living and aligns with today’s “shop as you scroll” culture across digital platforms and social media in particular.

However, as popularity and competition soar, knowing what works and what doesn’t is ever-more important. This is particularly true for figuring out how to win and hold the most essential element of today’s attention economy; audience interest.

To find the right shoppable mix for each consumer and moment, accurate testing is needed. Or, more specifically, A/B testing that offers metrics to track what truly moves the dial on attention within programmatic.

Navigating a path to efficiency

While not new for marketers, A/B testing is a central efficiency-boosting tool in the current climate. Despite welcome signs of budding recovery — including forecasts of 1.2% uplift for online ad spend in 2020 — budgets are still tight and the battle for consumer attention remains fierce. As a result, being able to compare the effect of different factors on digital media performance is essential to ensure maximum ad resonance and returns.

Given its huge flexibility, shoppable video arguably has a greater need for A/B testing than many other formats. Take, for example, hotspots. These smart features add interactivity to any part of a video, so a clear understanding of which specific elements drive the most engagement is crucial to guide effective application. Because the calls-to-action (CTAs) hotspots can take multiple forms – be that instant ‘discover more’ or ‘click to buy’ options – variable analysis is also key to identify and leverage the prompters that deliver the best outcomes.

And that’s not all. When it comes to video content, there are several creative components that affect how individuals respond, from the use of audio to diverse narrative branching. Trialling different soundscapes, background tunes, and story choices is therefore invaluable

to determine what will provide the optimal experience for each viewer and, most vitally, increase the likelihood of further interactions and purchases.

Enabling better programmatic precision

It’s clear the insights produced by A/B testing present the ideal foundation for continually enhancing personalisation and informing savvier investments. But their potential to improve real-time impact is worth highlighting; especially as the desire for higher targeting accuracy and efficacy sees larger volumes of digital media traded automatically.

Shoppable video platforms are getting more sophisticated. As well as advanced abilities such as closed-loop transactions in programmatic ad reels — meaning buys can be finalised inside video players with no re-directs to external sites — some now offer in-the-moment audience measurement. Independently, this deep evaluation uncovers unique preferences that enable precise in-flight ad tailoring; covering not just view duration and drop-off points, but also which hotspots and CTAs are clicked on, as well as audio or narrative choices.

Combined with streamlined A/B testing, it can help pinpoint the optimal route for improving digital advertising results – programmatic buys included. Using incoming data about which ads are hitting the right mark with target audiences, marketers can rapidly adjust activity; bolstering spend for high-performing variations and pausing those that fail to resonate. As an extra benefit, insights gathered over time can also be pooled into a rich knowledge store that makes it easier to spot behavioural trends and plan for future campaigns.

Embracing shoppable video is a good first step towards elevating digital success. But although in-built monetisation makes them powerful revenue generators, interactive ads need fine-tuning to reach their full capacity. By leveraging refined behavioural analysis and A/B testing, marketers can isolate which specific aspects of their ads inspire the highest engagement and buys; giving them the formula for building better digital experiences and ads that will drive results on both a real-time and longer-term basis.

Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash

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