Brands are testing shoppable videos on Instagram Stories and Snap Ads

Brands posting ephemeral content on Snapchat and Instagram Stories can now expect to not just drive engagement but also sales.

Brands including Birchbox, Dr. Brandt Skincare, GoPro, Beautyblender and SheaMoisture are testing a new shoppable video layer offered by video company MikMak that lets users purchase branded products on Instagram Stories and Snap Ads with a single URL. Called MikMak Attach, the new feature allows brands to turn social video views into direct sales, without users ever having to leave Instagram or Snapchat.

All users have to do is swipe up after viewing an Instagram Story or Snap Ad, and they are directly connected to the brand’s owned e-commerce pop-up window. When a user taps the “Add to Cart” link, the item goes directly into the brand’s owned e-commerce cart. Even if a user abandons the transaction during the session, the item remains in the brand’s owned cart so the user can check out on the general web, or the brand can later re-market it to the user.

As brands and retailers crank up their investments on social media, engagement is just one of the metrics. Brands are increasingly prioritizing monetization. Both Birchbox and Dr. Brandt Skincare, for instance, have linked to product pages on their Instagram Stories as well as partnered with companies like Curalate and Dash Hudson that hack Instagram and drive purchases. MikMak’s offering — like Curalate’s and Dash Hudson’s — is essentially hacks brands have relied on to bridge the gap between browsing and purchasing on their social posts.

Instagram itself has allowed verified accounts to add links to product pages in Stories since November. But it has not yet cracked down on third-party solutions. If it does, these businesses will be rendered obsolete. Still, brands seem bullish on MikMak Attach.

“We have seen that video content really boosts conversion at a higher rate across all channels, so we’ve been investing heavily in it,” said Lorelei Orfeo, senior manager of social and content at Birchbox. “While Instagram Stories lets us add links, it’s not entirely a smooth experience for users to be guided to our product pages. MikMak Attach just takes those efforts to the next level.”

Dr. Brandt Skincare has been beta-testing MikMak Attach since the beginning of April and saw a 500 percent lift in direct sales conversion from Instagram within 10 days of adding the tool to its Stories. Birchbox, on the other hand, started using the functionality on Instagram Stories last week, with its most recent story launching today.

For Lisa Raggiri, vp of digital at Dr. Brandt Skincare, MikMak Attach is useful because it extends the shelf life of daily video content and is also cost-effective, as brands can easily repurpose video content from the past to drive sales. There isn’t a time limit, either; the layer can host videos of any length.

“The ability to reformat existing content makes it even more fun,” Raggiri said. “ What was once just a marketing video is elevated to an interactive experience.”

Platforms themselves are making social commerce a priority. Instagram said last month that it was rolling out its Shop Now functionality more widely, after testing it out with 20 brands last November. MikMak Attach will remain in beta through May.

“We realized that our app wasn’t going to be the Trojan horse in this equation; the platforms dictate everything,” said Rachel Tipograph, founder and CEO of MikMak. “So our strategy is to be an agnostic partner to all.”

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