Remember when buy buttons were all the rage? You should — it was just last year. Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter were all throwing their hats in the ring.
But now, it appears Twitter is backing off the easy-click purchase strategy. The microblogging platform announced last month that it’s officially getting rid of its 25-person team behind the Buy Now button. CEO Jack Dorsey says he is hoping to shift Twitter’s focus from direct commerce to dynamic product ads and ramp up customer service efforts.
So Why Did the Twitter Buy Button Flop?
We think it boils down to a matter of buyer intent — so long as the buying intent is present, then eliminating friction to convert is useful (such as with a buy button). For example, when a shopper Googles a specific product — like a hiking boot or a beach chair — they’re demonstrating at least some intent to purchase a product in the near future.
The problem with Twitter is that people aren’t turning to the platform with an intent to shop (or buy). In fact, 59% of Twitter users turn to the platform to catch up on news.
So sure, a strategically placed ad for an England jersey might be a hot seller this month, but in general, a text-heavy platform like Twitter isn’t where today’s highly visual consumer is going to search for or buy products. Why? Consumers expect more information about a product when they’re shopping online, not less.
That doesn’t mean that social platforms don’t have a big role in e-commerce conversion.
From Social Commerce to Retargeting to Carousel Ads
Instead of buy buttons, Twitter is likely focusing its resources on dynamic product ads (DPAs). Again, it all comes down to intent. Shoppers might not login to Twitter to search for a new product, but an advertiser could use shoppers’ past behaviour to retarget them with ads in places where they spend a lot of idle time: their social media feeds.
Lately, it seems as though the popular dynamic product ads surfacing on social media are the latest iteration of advertising on social. Not unlike the product listing ads you find on Google Shopping, dynamic ads on social are a possible solution to the aforementioned intent barrier. They allow merchants to deliver specific product information to consumers based on their interests and past internet activity.
Just last month, Facebook announced that Instagram would now offer Dynamic Ads, and Twitter is following suit in more ways than one. Aside from the shift in focus from buy buttons to dynamic product ads, Twitter announced this week that it’s testing a new carousel ad unit — similar to the ones we already see on both Facebook and Instagram, which have been extremely successful in their early stages.
But this is where Twitter pulls away from the pack. Twitter’s carousel ads will be a combination of targeted advertising and crowdsourced content, allowing brands to not only include multiple pictures and tweets of their products, but also create a rich brand story.
Ultimately, the trends we’re seeing in the social advertising space reflect the overall digital landscape: Consumers are engaging with content, but their standards for what constitutes quality and valuable content are increasing exponentially.
It’s been a tough year for Twitter so far. The company has been struggling to boost growth, and just last week Bloomberg reported that Snapchat has officially surpassed Twitter in daily users — in half the time. The 10-year-old company is taking critical hits in the stock market due to an underwhelming first quarter, prompting the company to make a few changes to stay relevant in the fast-paced world of social media.
But Twitter still has the upper hand compared to a platform like Snapchat. Despite Snapchat’s massive daily user growth, brands have seen little to no ROI on the platform, rivaling the 64% of brands that see value in advertising on Twitter. Twitter’s interface makes it easy for users to actively engage with brands’ content, a competitive advantage that’s paving the way for innovation within the social advertising space.
We’ll keep watching for any developments. For now, be sure to subscribe to the blog for all breaking e-commerce news, insights and opinions.