Numbers Don’t Lie

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Technology has disrupted the way brands are built and the way products are sold.

Whereas in the tri-media world (TV, radio, and print), ads spoke “at” you with messages that persuaded you to buy. In the social media world, ads speak “to,” “with,” and “through” you with messages that entertain, engage, and educate. With a full video and sound experience, social media ads connect to consumers at a different level, leading them towards brand discovery, conversion, and purchase.

There are two channels for advertising on social media. The first are online marketplaces like Amazon, Lazada, and Shopee. Although these online marketplaces are effective portals for e-commerce, it has become a crowded marketplace with little opportunities for brand building. The site format and sheer number of products on offer do not allow brands to stand out. The experience in online marketplaces is generally transactional.

The second channel is social media commerce and this is where TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter come in. Through short-form videos, advertisers are able to create joyful experiences that draw their brands closer to consumers. Studies show that brands that elicit joy through humor, music, dance, or dialogue have greater chances of making it to shopping carts than traditional ads. Joyful content is the first step towards brand discovery, triggering brand desire, inducing trial usage, and fostering brand loyalty. A recent TikTok survey showed that 67% of users were introduced to new brands and realized new needs and desires they never thought they had before by way of joyful content.

Another way of looking at it is like this — while traditional advertising “push” products at you, social media advertising, through short form videos, draw you in through a “pull effect.”

This is how the word “shoppertainment” was coined. Shoppertainment is the space where entertainment and commercial advertising co-operate.

E-commerce has reached its inflection point in six of ASEAN’s largest economies. Although growth of e-commerce is seen to increase from $970 billion in 2021 to $1.19 trillion in 2025, its growth rates are generally decelerating across the region. E-commerce is mature in most markets. The Philippines, however, bucks the trend. E-commerce is still growing by a whopping 20% per annum, which is the highest in the region. Growth in the Philippines is buoyed by better internet connections and more consumer brands entering the e-commerce space.

In social media commerce, the shopping journey happens at lightning speed. For those unaware, the shopping journey consists of four steps — discovery, engagement, consideration, and conversion. While it could take months to go from brand discovery to conversion in traditional advertising, the same could happen in just a few minutes in the social media universe.

What is even more compelling about social media advertising is that after going through the four-step shopping journey, users are taken to a second adjunct journey consisting of four additional steps. The first is product review. This is when content creators talk about their experiences about the product. The second is audience participation. This is when other creators chime in to agree, disagree, fortify, or debunk the review. The third is amplification. The more a brand or product is reviewed, the greater mileage it gets on the platform. The fourth leads users to conversion all over again. So, in this sense, social media advertising does not end in the first conversion — it goes on and on in an intensifying loop.

All social media channels have an algorithm that feeds you only the videos that are of interest to you. In TikTok, it’s called “For you feeds.” For example, if you are an athletic man, the commercial feeds you get are akin to walking through the sporting goods section of a department store.

There are also ads called “Dynamic Showcase Ads.” These ads promote products that the user browsed through on other platforms before (many refer to these ads as “re-targeting ads”). The idea is to induce a snap sale. Re-targeting ads are powerful tools to make that final push towards closing the sale.

Still on that final push, advertisers can also offer “gift codes” (perks or discounts) as a final incentive to purchase.

Advertisers can also opt for “Spark Ads.” Spark ads are native, organic content (content not produced by the brand but by creators) that endorses a product or brand favorably. Advertisers can put money behind these videos to boost them to the target market.

Finding content creators whose style is in sync with the brand could be a challenge. For this, some social media platforms offer a creator marketplace. Here, brands can negotiate ad production or endorsement deals directly with seasoned creators.

Soon, social media channels will be offering commercial livestreams. Here, apparel brands can air live fashion shows and users can order the goods in real time. The same can be done with utility products and appliances where live demonstrations are beamed to a live audience.

Technology has changed traditional advertising practices in the same way it has changed almost every aspect of our lives. Businesses will do well to include shoppertainment in their marketing mix as it is the trend of the future.

 

Andrew J. Masigan is an economist

andrew_rs6@yahoo.com

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Twitter @aj_masigan