eCommerce – Locked & Loaded

Driving the Digital Media Market Forward

IAB Canada is looking forward to hosting an incredible deep dive into the world of online sales at eCommerce Week taking place on September 22-24th.

It seems that every conversation these days somehow touches on the subject of online retail. Whether it’s a discussion around the tremendous growth in ad spend, choosing the right channels to drive sales or the alarm bells sounding about third-party cookies dying off, eCommerce has ensconced itself into the digital media landscape as a major driver of volume and strategy for the foreseeable future.

Covid-19 clearly accelerated the demand for online shopping and the market has been galvanized. In Q1, Shopify, the Ottawa-based eCommerce platform provider reported an astounding 47% growth. We anticipate that as more businesses transition to online and place more emphasis on digital merchandizing, media dollars are sure to follow.

This week we caught up with Vancouver-based Patio’s Director of Digital Strategy, Dave Pritchard to get some insights on how the agency which works on several eCommerce-based accounts, views the market in 2020.

IAB Canada (IABC): Would you say that there has been an acceleration in eCommerce-driven media over the past few years? How competitive is the market? Any categories that stand-out?

Pritchard: Prior to Covid-19, eCommerce-driven media was ramping up incrementally year over year. All that changed in 2020 when the pandemic hit.
Suddenly, customers expect every category of retailer to offer their goods online leaving retailers who did not have the appropriate infrastructure in place, in serious trouble.
Moreover, domestic businesses are now forced to compete on the global stage with major players like Amazon and Sephora. Those with access to the keys to unlock customers’ journeys from click to door will win.

IABC: There are varying definitions of eCommerce out there. Some for instance, would include Travel in the category, others might solely define it as big retail moved to online. What are your thoughts on this?

Pritchard:  Travel must be included in eCommerce. Can you recall the last time you booked a flight, car, or hotel offline? Neither can we.
Well-positioned tourism industry leaders are just like leading online retailers in that they track and optimize their eCommerce campaigns from clicks to hotel bookings. By focussing on paying customers, who drive actual sales, they eliminate distractions caused by inefficient campaigns or even click fraud.
The issue for all eCommerce brands travel or traditional retail brands, is where they fight the good fight. While some choose to put ad dollars into walled gardens where they have no access to audience data like Bookings.com promotion, others fight it out amongst their competitors across all digital ad networks.

IABC: To succeed in eCommerce, how much of it depends on lower funnel activity? Is there room for brand building strategy? Is this changing over time?

Pritchard: Building brand awareness is imperative for any successful eCommerce launch. Without it, lower funnel activity will fall short, no matter how compelling your lower funnel activity or remarketing campaigns are.
Hockey stick growth requires reaching a wider audience with soft sell brand building videos, interactive carousel ads, and influencer support.
Brand advertising also allows companies to find niche markets to focus on, who would not have come to light without the reach of a wide brand building campaign net.

IABC: Covid-19 accelerated online shopping out of necessity. What do you think this means for advertisers trying to stand-out vis a vis media strategy online?

Pritchard: Retailers in 2020 must provide a seamless online shopping experience for new and returning customers.
Seasoned eCommerce professionals are expanding their customer base through remarketing offers, targeting lookalikes, as well as poaching customers from retailers who have fallen behind.
Adding to the already complex world of eCommerce, will be Apple’s elimination of Identification for Advertisers, or IDFA. Removing or severely diminishing the ability for retailers to leverage this data from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram will have major repercussions for advertisers.
Forward thinking strategists have already dialed up their efforts to secure this audience data prior to its roll out in early 2021.
It’s the last call for highly targeted customer data. Time to drink up! Cheers! 😉