Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter all released updates that give advertisers more direct marketing and sales features, making it easier for consumers to shop from the apps.
Snapchat introduced augmented reality filters today that link to brands’ product catalogs, while Twitter adjusted the back-end of its ad platform to accommodate more performance marketing goals. On Tuesday, TikTok launched fast-loading pages, which are landing sites within the app where brands can show more product details.
The apps all focused on different features, but they shared a common goal: to enhance on-site shopping as social commerce takes off. “We talk a lot about the opportunity of social commerce,” said Debbie Ellison, global chief digital officer at VMLY&R Commerce. “That traditional marketing funnel is converging and that point between inspiration and purchase is converging.”
Also, some of the changes, especially Twitter’s performance marketing upgrade, could help as apps adjust to Apple’s data-sharing changes in recent years. Apple’s anti-tracking policies have made it more difficult for apps to follow consumers from an ad inside an app to links outside the app. Apple’s polices have made it more complicated to measure ad performance—unless a consumer consents to tracking, brands can’t always see how a consumer was affected by ads. Apps are looking for ways to let brands conduct all their business inside their walls.
Snapchat augments sales
Snapchat perhaps made the most technologically advanced leap with its augmented reality filters, which are Snap Lenses that users use to create videos. Snapchat improved lenses by linking them to product catalogs and inventory data from the brands. Brands like Ulta Beauty, MAC Cosmetics, Nike, Farfetch, Zenni, Dior and Prada have built Snap Lenses so consumers can virtually try on products through the camera.
The new catalog-connected lenses have more data attached to them, down to the “stock keeping unit” code, and they carry details on up to 20 variations of a product. The information updates in real-time, helping brands promote the products that are still in stock and most popular.
In its announcement, Snapchat said that Ulta tried the new lenses and generated 30 million “try-ons” in a two-week period, leading to $6 million in incremental purchases.
Brands can use the extra data, gleaned from consumers playing with the lenses, to detect which product varieties are most popular, helping with research and development and marketing strategies, Snapchat said.
TikTok speeds up
The fast-loading pages feature, which TikTok announced earlier this week, is a new trick for brands to link to landing sites that live within the app. “Instant Page allows brands to tell their story by highlighting products, services and promotions to users coming from In-Feed Ads,” TikTok said in a blog post about the update. “This not only boosts load time and conversions, but also encourages users to spend more time learning about the brand.”
Conversion tracking is one of the benefits of the new ad unit, since Apple has made measurement more difficult. A conversion is when an ad leads to a sale or other action like a download.
TikTok can tell advertisers when consumers were more interested in their promoted products by detecting when they clicked on the landing page.
VMLY&R Commerce’s Ellison said that faster pages are key to keeping people interested online, too. “What we know already is the fact that slow loading times do impact quite severely conversions rates,” Ellison said.
TikTok said the new pages load 11 times faster.
Twitter directs deals
On Wednesday, Twitter mentioned Apple’s changes as part of the impetus for its latest performance marketing updates. “This will be a potential improvement for advertisers who have seen a decrease in attribution across their campaigns after the implementation of Apple’s new [App-Tracking Transparency] Framework,” Twitter said in the announcement.
Apple made it so app’s need to ask users for permission to analyze their web habits outside the apps, clouding the view marketers have on iPhones. Attribution—connecting the ad to the sale—is difficult when the consumer sees an ad on Twitter but makes the purchase on the brand’s website.
Twitter said it made fixes to direct-response ad products. One was “site visit optimizations,” so brands can set a goal of driving traffic to their websites. Twitter also said it was working on the ability to add items to a digital shopping cart through Twitter ads.
Meanwhile, Twitter also said it is working on measurement. Twitter is adopting a method of using aggregate data to report conversions, which would deliver more anonymous stats to brands, not identifying individuals. Many tech companies, including Facebook and Google, are testing more aggregated measurement reporting as a more privacy-safe alternative.
“This is aimed at providing conversion metrics by counting events in aggregate for audiences who have opted out of tracking on iOS devices,” Twitter said.