How to Leverage Social Product Ads to Bring eCommerce Success

Ben Culpin May 15, 2020

Almost half the world’s population uses social media and of that figure, an estimated 2 billion of them are regularly shopping online.

For ecommerce marketers keen to promote their product catalog to this incredibly wide audience, there are hundreds of options available.

One way of driving ecommerce success is making use of other platforms like Google Shopping or marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart. The one we’ll focus on here though, is where your audience is hanging out on a daily basis: social networks.

Let’s take a look at the options available and how to get started.

Social networks as a source of marketing

For ecommerce retailers, leveraging social media effectively means your online store needs to be sending well-structured and detailed product data from day one.

Taking Facebook as an example (we’ll go through multiple other options below), dynamic ads can take the catalog you send to your Business Manager account and use it to create visually engaging product display ads. With advanced targeting and analytics at your fingertips, these can become high-performing sources of ecommerce conversions for your business.


Facebook

Seeing as I mentioned them in the paragraph above, it probably makes sense to tackle Facebook social product ads first.

A little over a fifth of the world’s population uses Facebook on a daily basis – around 1.59B people and in the US, over half of the population uses Facebook.

So we know that the potential for reaching a truly vast audience is there, but what are the options like for social product ads?

There is a wide toolkit of ad types at your disposal on Facebook, but dynamic product ads are the relevant ones for ecommerce marketers selling physical goods. They automatically show relevant products to people who have expressed an interest on your website or somewhere else on the internet. You’ll need a product catalog and high-quality product data to set these up.

Dynamic ads can be delivered across Facebook and Instagram in the form of:

Single Image Ads

Image credit: Connectio Image credit: Connectio

A single, bold image that should display your product in a clear, eye-catching way. Facebook has always made a big issue of text in images so if your image contains more than 20% text, you will receive “reduced delivery”.

  • Image file types: .jpg or .png
  • Text: 125 characters (if there is no link)
  • Headline: 25 characters (any more will appear truncated)
  • Link Description: 30 characters

Carousel Ads

Image credit: Social Butterfly Advertising Image credit: Social Butterfly Advertising

This is another social product ad format which lets brands feature images (or videos) of multiple products in one ad. Your users can swipe through the various slides of a carousel ad to see different items offered.

What’s more, they can be displayed in different locations like the feed itself, the right column, Facebook Audience Network and marketplace.

  • Image file types: .jpg or .png
  • Text: 125 characters (if there is no link)
  • Headline: 40 characters (any more will appear truncated)
  • Link Description: 20 characters (optional on Instant Articles)

Collection Ads

Image credit: Iprospect Image credit: Iprospect

Collection ads allow you to select a number of your products in a full-screen display for mobile.

Each Facebook Collection ad features one main video or image, along with four smaller accompanying images in a grid-like layout. When somebody clicks on a Collection Ad, they are taken to a fast-loading visual post-click experience powered by Instant Experience, without actually leaving Facebook

Behind the ad you can choose to display a main video, slideshow, or up to 50 products from your catalog - buttons on the ad lead your visitor to your store where the purchase can be made.

  • Images no more than 20% text
  • Image file types: .jpg or .png
  • Text: 90 characters
  • Headline: 25 characters (any more will appear truncated)

Pinterest

Source: Pinterest Source: Pinterest

The entire aim of Pinterest is to create an online experience that is even better than in-store shopping. To do this they are increasingly using visual technology, a simple, easy-to-navigate design and recommended products to deliver a clean and effective browsing experience for your shoppers.

The platform promotes product discovery, and idea planning in a unique and effective manner. All ecommerce businesses should at least consider Pinterest as a social product ad format for them.


Instagram

Last year (2019), Instagram crossed the 1 billion user mark. Of those, 500 million use the platform every day, spend on average 53 minutes browsing each day and 71% of them are under the age of 35 (source).

This means there is a large and dedicated audience who can be reached through effective Instagram advertising. In 2019, 71% of businesses in the US had an Instagram presence, so it's crucial to take the steps to make your ecommerce business stand out.

Combine these stats with the fact that Instagrammers are 70% more likely to buy via mobile, and that Gen Z has some serious purchasing power… and you have a channel that is ideally suited to a number of ecommerce industries.

So what kind of choice do you have for your social product ads for Instagram? They use the same advertising platform as Facebook, so all the dynamic ad formats we discussed earlier will apply here too. Creating one series for Facebook can easily be applied and adjusted for Instagram.

Source: planable Source: planable

At the very least, you’ll want to be present to some degree on Instagram, whether it's just through your company profile and stories (to build brand awareness and relevance), or whether you begin running social product ad campaigns. Over 71% of US businesses use Instagram – which includes your competitors.


Snapchat

In terms of daily active users, there are 210 million regularly using Snapchat. Combine this with the fact that more than half of US internet users aged 15-25 are using the social channel - and you start to see what a massive hit this channel is increasingly becoming among teens and millennials.

I’ll be honest at this stage, the choice for social product ads via Snapchat is not as straightforward as those we’ve already looked at so far for Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

The primary reason is that Snapchat targets younger users with short, highly visual content, so all ads need to easily meet this criteria. That being said, there is a massive amount of potential for effective engagement, with the mobile app being the 2nd most popular worldwide and opened on average 20 times per day by its users.

All of this points towards napchat being another unique social network with a highly active user base.

Snapchat Shoppable Ads

These were introduced in 2018 to make Snapchat a realistic advertising space for a wider number of ecommerce brands.

With Shoppable Ads, businesses can advertise their products (manually or via product feed) to Snapchat’s massive audience. The ads appear between user Stories, alongside live content, and scattered throughout Discover (Snapchat’s media network) content.

Source: Snapchat Source: Snapchat

As mentioned above, your success with social product ads on Snapchat comes down to the speed at which you can draw attention to your products. It’s the same across all these social channels but even more so given the temporary nature of Snapchat - where users won’t think twice about quickly tapping past an ad that doesn’t draw them in the second they see it.

Therefore, consider giving Shoppable Ads on Snapchat a go if your audience includes those in the 12-34 age range – especially if this is your core audience.


YouTube

Okay so the final one on my list may not necessarily be seen as a social network as such, but it’s hard to ignore when it comes to considering product ads for ecommerce.

For a start, 1 billion hours of YouTube content is watched per day, it’s the second most visited site in the world and those who view video ads are 1.6 times more likely to make a purchase.

Yes, it’s part of the Google Display network, so technically a part of your Google Shopping setup, but the social aspect to Youtube (stories, communities, engagement) is so important that it’s hard not to view it as a social network.

YouTube Ad Formats

There are two types of video ads for ecommerce marketers to use on YouTube: TrueView Ads and Bumper Ads.

TrueView Ads

These allow you to advertise with videos longer than 30 seconds. For online stores who want to get their products in front of viewers for relevant videos, in-stream TrueView Ads will be the best option.

Image credit: AdGrasp Image credit: AdGrasp
Bumper Ads

These are the shortest video ads with a max duration of just six seconds. They’re displayed before, during or after a YouTube video and unlike the TrueView ads mentioned above, your audience can’t skip them - so will always see the entire duration of the video.

Google recommends ecommerce marketers to use these as a means of creating brand recognition - with catchy, easy-to-remember ads.

Image source: Instapage Image source: Instapage

Wrapping up

When it comes to effective product ads on social networks: the importance of high-quality product data is of huge importance, and advanced targeting plus the use of product feeds to automate ads is key.

The primary recommendation would be to focus on building your presence on established advertising platforms like Facebook and Instagram, before considering the amazing opportunities available through Pinterest, Snapchat and YouTube. Make sure your product content, no matter the platform, is valuable, visually engaging and contains all the information your audience wants to know.

Written by Ben Culpin

Ben is a content marketer at WakeupData, a company driven by its mission to help empower e-commerce businesses. He specializes in creating valuable, actionable content which will save online merchants time and money

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