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Facebook Acquires Video Commerce Startup ‘Packagd’ to Help Boost In-Stream Buying Options

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As part of its burgeoning eCommerce push, earlier this year, Facebook acquired video commerce startup Packagd, which, prior to the acquisition, had been focused on enabling users to make direct purchases of products via live-stream, unboxing-type videos.

Packagd

As reported by Bloomberg, Facebook quietly purchased Packagd to help build a new live shopping feature inside its Marketplace product.

As per Bloomberg:

“The social media company bought Packagd, a five-person company founded by Eric Feng, a former partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and most of the startup’s team joined Facebook in September. Packagd was building a shopping product for YouTube videos. “Think of it as a re-imagination of QVC or a home shopping network,” Feng said in a 2017 interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang.”

Facebook has confirmed the purchase, saying that the company is “exploring ways to let buyers easily ask questions and place orders within a live video broadcast.”

The option sounds very similar to a short-lived live-stream buying project which Facebook piloted late last year. In that experiment, selected users in Thailand were given access to a dedicated Facebook Live mode which enabled Pages to showcase products in their stream, which viewers could then purchase via screenshots.

Facebook Live selling

Facebook told TechCrunch at the time that the process emerged from feedback, specifically from Thai users, which supported the use of Live video as a more effective means of showcasing products and facilitating consumer queries in real-time.

That project has since been halted, but the acquisition of Packagd shows that Facebook is not done with this idea, and that it still sees significant potential in utilizing live video as a means to further encourage on-platform purchases.

eCommerce is set to be a big deal for Facebook in 2020.

First off, you have payments – throughout 2019, we’ve seen Facebook working to build its own, on-platform cryptocurrency, with a view to facilitating fee-free funds transfer within its network. The idea here is that once people are moving money around within Facebook’s system, it will make it much easier for them to also use those funds to make on-platform purchases. And while its cryptocurrency plans still have a few hurdles to overcome, Facebook is expanding access to other options, like Facebook Pay and WhatsApp Pay, which will both, eventually, also extend to Instagram.

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From there, Facebook then needs to build up its on-platform buying options. The acquisition of Packagd is the latest on this front, but back in June, Facebook also acquired Indian marketplace app Meesho, which connects sellers with customers through WhatsApp, and already has more than 2 million users.

Meesho

India – and it’s 1.4 billion increasingly connected citizens – looks set to play a key role in Facebook’s eCommerce expansion, while East Asian markets, like Thailand, also seem ripe for the next phase of the company’s online shopping push. 

In this sense, the viability of Facebook’s Libra crytocurrency, or even its Marketplace eCommerce tools, within western markets may not be indicative of overall success. Facebook doesn’t need these tools to catch on in the US, necessarily, as there are billions of users in emerging markets, where the ease of use of such tools could provide far greater benefit, and therefore, see far higher take-up.

And if Facebook can expand the utility of its platform into payments, shopping, then further into bill payments, banking, etc. That could make the platform a much more critical layer in the broader tech infrastructure of these regions, a key component in everyday life.

Definitely, Facebook would love to hold such influence in all regions, but it’s best placed to do so in emerging markets – and potentially become the essential app for many, many more users.   

Socialmediatoday.com

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Instagram Tests Out New Ad Options, Including Explore Placement and Interactive AR Displays

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Instagram Tests Out New Ad Options, Including Explore Placement and Interactive AR Displays

As we head into the holiday shopping push, Instagram has announced that it’s testing out some new ad options, in the hopes of maximizing its revenue intake, while also providing new opportunities for brands.

Though I can’t imagine that these will be entirely popular additions with users.

First off, Instagram’s adding new ads into Explore, with the first page of Explore now set to feature a new ad unit in the content feed.

As you can see in this example, that’s a pretty big ad. Instagram hasn’t clarified if all of these new Explore ads will be featured as prominently as this, but the option will provide another means to reach IG users ‘in the earliest stages of discovering new content they care about’.

It could be a good consideration, with a chance to get your products featured in the main discovery feed in the app.

Instagram’s also testing ads in profile feed – ‘which is the feed experience that people can scroll through after visiting another account’s profile and tapping on a post’.

So now, if you check out someone’s profile, and tap on a post, you’ll also be eligible to be served ads in that dedicated stream of their content, essentially inserting ads into another surface in the app.

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Instagram’s also looking into whether this option could also be used as a monetization opportunity for creators, as that activity will be tied back to an individual profile and content.

Instagram’s also testing what it’s calling ‘Multi-Advertiser Ads’, which will display more promotions from similar businesses to users after they’ve engaged with an ad.

Instagram ad updates

As per Instagram:

“When a person expresses commercial intent by engaging with an ad, we deliver more ads from other businesses that may be of interest, powered by machine learning.”

So Instagram’s looking to push even more related businesses at you, stacking ads upon ads. I don’t know how effective that will be, but in theory, it could get your brand in front of interested users based on previous ad engagement.

Finally, Instagram’s also launched an open beta of its AR Ads, which will be available in both feed and Stories in the app.

Instagram ads update

As you can see here, Instagram’s AR ads, built in its Spark AR platform, will invite users to interact with their ad content, which could also include positioning virtual furniture in their home, or test driving a car in the app.

Which Meta also says will help brands align with future engagement shifts:

“By giving businesses tools to create more personalized and immersive experiences today we’ll help them drive performance and prepare for the metaverse.”

I mean, AR and the metaverse, which is largely VR-based (going on the examples we’ve seen thus far) are not the same thing, but the creation of 3D objects will play a part in that next stage, and could help to advance your thinking on ad approaches.

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These are some interesting ad considerations, but they’ll also see a lot more promotions being squeezed into your Instagram feeds, which, as noted, likely won’t be welcomed by users.

But with parent company Meta under rising pressure, Instagram has to do its part. And while leaning into further Reels, and forcing in more ads, may not be a great play, long-term, the usage and engagement data will ultimately tell the tale.



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