Platforms Showed Off Shopping Tools at NewFronts

May 10, 2021

This article originally appeared in Marketing Brew. 

This year’s NewFronts presentations have come and gone.

Celebrities like Catherine O’Hara and Miley Cyrus hobnobbed with brands, uncomfortable executives gave PowerPoint presentations detailed looks at the future of the media ecosystem, and streaming and social platforms danced on the graves of linear television.

But presenters spent most of their time showing off shiny new toys to entice media buyers. And we noticed lots of them are trying to help audiences do one simple thing: buy stuff.

Everything is QVC now

During its first-ever appearance at the NewFronts, Amazon unveiled what it dubbed the incredibly sexy “actionable video ads solution,” which allows viewers to make a purchase as a brand’s ad is running. Like, immediately.

  • In practice, you could tell Alexa to add toilet paper to your Amazon cart after watching a Charmin ad on IMDb TV—or just click your Fire TV remote—without stopping the show.
  • Amazon said the new feature is in beta testing so it’s unclear when brands can begin using it.

Not to be outdone, YouTube showed off a new tool called “brand extensions” that can send connected TV viewers a custom URL to their phone—where they’ll presumably make a purchase or learn more about a product—if an ad piques their interest. It’s also adding an e-commerce platform that’ll sit under video ads.

It wasn’t just platforms. Condé Nast, parent to The New Yorker, GQ, Vogue, and Bon Appétit, unveiled Condé Nast Shoppable—perhaps a slightly more exciting name than the other two.

  • It’s an in-video feature that allows viewers to purchase whatever a given celebrity is wearing in Vogue’s “7 Days, 7 Looks” series, for instance. 
  • And it’s only charging advertisers when a transaction actually occurs.

Shoppable advertising isn’t exactly new. Last year, NBC expanded its shoppable ad offerings, including ads with QR codes on linear TV. Hulu’s been working on it for a couple of years, too. 

It’s convenient, especially if you’re a beauty or clothing brand. Even if Ford might not sell an F-150 with a click, it could theoretically send local dealership promos to your phone using YouTube’s new tool.

Zoom out: As first party data and contextual advertising get more valuable, there’s more pressure for brands to create “personalized advertising experiences,” Toni Box, VP of social media and content marketing at digital agency ForwardPMX, told Marketing Brew. 

Meeting audiences where they are and making it easier for them to actually buy the stuff they’re seeing in ads is one way to do that. “It’s super appealing—we’re always looking for easy ways to convert,” Box said. — RB

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