Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, and Jordan Belfort in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’. Depictions of financial organisations in the media lean towards the unsavoury. But what if the future of video was finance?
Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley are waking up to their morning Soylent Green with the realisation that e-commerce could be video’s “killer app”. With the boom in e-commerce throughout COVID-19, video is being redefined as a means to facilitate transactions, not just complement them. As venture capitalist firm A16Z notes, "not only could video apps become e-commerce apps, but all e-commerce apps may become video apps." But what does this mean in practice?
China, the birthplace of socialist capitalism, social credits and the world’s highest concentration of AI unicorns is reimagining the role of video in commerce. While social giants like Youtube, Facebook and Instagram build e-commerce features on existing architectures, super-app Douyin (the Chinese version of Tiktok) doubles as an e-commerce platform. In Australia, it’s not hard to imagine Tiktok as an e-commerce platform integrating shopping sites and payment gateways within the application.
Fuelling this change is a much broader trend in the commercialisation of the web. Driven by payment gateways plugging into the internet's open-source protocols, this enables new methods for monetising content with video at the core.
Video is more to e-commerce than pitching products like stockbrokers pitch midgets on Wall Street. Video now plays a critical role at each stage of the purchasing pipeline, influencing how we market, review, purchase and follow up with customers. Increasingly aware of this, online retailers and video apps are partnering with one another for “monetisation synergies”.
At the same time, Coronavirus has accelerated the trajectory of online shopping as entertainment. Full of hangxiety after another night of solo drinking and reruns of ‘Friends’ in quarantine, e-commerce is a welcome retreat from reality.
While we can’t walk through malls without contracting a fatal virus, we can browse insecurity-inducing images from influencers. If we’re lucky, we can even buy products that absolve us of our self-loathing in a single click! Now, the dopamine hit of receiving likes on social media can arrive with the mailman carrying your order.
We’re hurtling towards a frictionless shopping experience where customers don’t need to leave the social media site to buy products. Shopify’s role as an integrator in bridging the gap between content and consumption is becoming apparent. The platform offers integrations with Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and now Tiktok. The age of “In-Stream Commerce” is almost upon us.
The commoditisation of social media demands a renewed approach to video. In order to remain competitive, brands need to remove friction from the buyer experience. Publishers need to redesign content for conversions. Meanwhile, production companies need to learn how to create high-performing content that is tailored for each platform.
Case Study: Buzzfeed
However, optimising the content and delivery of client work on e-commerce platforms is table stakes for production companies. Just as it is for clients, e-commerce is also a chance for production studios to diversify their revenue streams. In a volatile economy, this can increase the probability of a production studio surviving another collapse of client marketing budgets.
Once just a digital media company, Buzzfeed has evolved into an organisation that evades conventional definitions. Having diversified into news, entertainment and print publishing, Buzzfeed also sources revenue from native advertising, banner ads and affiliate links. Noticing an appetite for culinary content, the publisher spun off Tasty, a multi-faced company selling everything from seasoning to cooking appliances.
Buzzfeed represents the evolution of digitally native businesses. Founder Jonah Peretti notes that the global pandemic has “accelerated the trend towards digital services and online marketplaces being how the market operates". Facing Coronavirus, such a move is an effective means to insulate a company and hedge against risk.
How To Adapt
So what insights from organisations like Buzzfeed can be applied to Australian businesses? As a media organisation capitalising on e-commerce, Buzzfeed exhibited three key behaviours: radical open-mindedness, decisiveness and massive real-time experimentation. While Australia may have bounced out of a recession, the future is far from certain. Facing this, these three ingredients are the secret sauce for any media organisation or digital publisher.
Never allow a good crisis to go to waste. Times of crisis favour business that are fast to innovate, iterate and adapt. Whether it’s tailoring your video production services for e-commerce or diversifying with an online store, reimagining your business can position you and your business for future success.
Businesses that survive the pandemic won’t resemble those when it began. With video evolving faster than a virulent strain of COVID19, production companies and media organisations need to evolve alongside it. E-commerce may be the “killer app” for video, but you’ll need Enamoured Iris to pull the trigger.
Searching for “video production Melbourne”? Enamoured Iris is a creative video production company producing online video content for lifestyle brands in the Travel, Apparel and Entertainment industries. The company’s head office is based in Melbourne, Australia.