IAB Member Q&A: Commerce in 2022

On June 30, 2022 Research & Resources

We know that COVID has provided a renewed shopper who wants to experience the same top level of service they receive in-store, online and as ecommerce continues to grow, these consumer wants, and business needs will have to find balance.

So, what does this mean for brands and retailers? It means greater opportunities across digital channels to connect and engage with consumers. Let’s dive a little deeper into ecommerce to understand more about getting the balance right.

Thanks to Pinterest, Captify, Criteo, Pure.amplify, ShopFully and Taboola for their contributions.


Melinda Petrunoff, Country Manager: Australia and New Zealand, Pinterest

Q. As ecommerce grows, what are the most important things that businesses need to consider for a good consumer experience? What retailers or brands do you think are nailing the e-commerce customer experience?
As consumers have shifted their spending to online, brands should inspire and create a shopping experience that feels more like real life, bringing a sense of discovery and personalisation that puts the joy into shopping. Consumers now expect e-commerce to deliver the same discovery experience that offline shopping provides. There’s nothing quite like walking into a store that feels like everything was hand-picked for you. For too long online shopping has consisted of scrolling lines of text or seeing individual products on uninspiring white backgrounds. And, more often than not, you need to have an idea of what you’re looking for, and then search for that.

Online shopping should be as inspiring as offline and that is a huge opportunity for brands. It should be easy to visually browse until you find something that sparks your interest. Marketers should find ways to match the offline discovery and engagement of products. IKEA does a great job at this with its augmented reality tool IKEA Place. It enables customers to see a piece of furniture in their own homes. This allows the shopper the opportunity to interact with the product before they buy it which creates a bond between the buyer and the product. At Pinterest we also have a feature called AR Try On for Home Decor, which makes it possible for users to digitally view home decor and furniture items in their home and “try before you buy”.


Krish Raja, General Manager AU, Capitfy

Q. Lots of new brands that were born online thrived during COVID with a focus on bottom of the funnel marketing. Are we starting to see some of these brands now invest more in brand marketing?

There’s only so long you can survive only focusing on the bottom of the funnel, particularly in congested verticals such as e-commerce. Long term business health in this sector relies on brand loyalists that do not simply convert due to convenience or price. When the barriers to entry are so low, it’s increasingly important to look backwards from things like search triggers to develop insights on consumer passion points. These insights can help brands to understand why they sell what they sell and so connect the bottom of the funnel to brand marketing.

In e-commerce, that’s going to be the difference maker between brands that differentiate and amass a longer term loyalist following, versus a large number that will disappear as fast as they appeared. The smart e-comm brands have already caught this trend and are using triggers like search data to genuinely understand how to deliver messaging at the top and middle of the funnel in their digital ad buys.

Q. What areas of digital advertising do you see as the most effective for driving consumers to purchase? Have you seen any new trends coming through in the last 12-18 months?

For funnel efficiency, it’s hard to look past SEM and SEO. However, we’re now seeing a lot of the higher funnel channels become more measurable and accountable, while search data is now not just used for SEM. Combining the two shows us that CTV is actually a key driver of search (and a proxy for purchase) consideration.

Some of the new trends in CTV are enabling different types of rich data sets to be combined with the big screen, and as the CTV channel continues to become more of a biddable marketplace, this trend will likely continue to enable marketers to better connect high impact awareness buys on the TV screen through to purchase.


Roger Dunn, Head of Retail Media: ANZ, Criteo

Q. What areas of digital advertising do you see as the most effective for driving consumers to purchase? Have you seen any new trends coming through in the last 12-18 months?

One of the major trends has been the rapid growth of retail media following the acceleration of e-commerce during the pandemic that has led many major retailers to monetize their growing audience and assets. Retail media can be defined as advertising opportunities, either on the retailer’s site itself, or utilising the retailer’s first party data, to target shoppers off-site. Shopper audience insights are highly effective for advertisers, by advertising right at the point of purchase, or by targeting known shoppers based on what they have recently browsed or bought, retailers can meet the consumer right where they are in their purchase journey.

The retail media sector is set to boom to a predicted $50bn globally in 2022 surpassing the revenues of media giants like Netflix and YouTube. Locally we are already seeing major players in the retail sector shift their focus to retail media to expand their profitability. Woolworths has already seen incredible results following the launch of Cartology, with the media business reporting e-commerce sales growth of $1.5 billion in 2021, up +74.7% on 2020, totalling $3.5 billion.

While retail media began with Sponsored Products, these were quickly followed by display placements. Although these on-site placements have proven effective in driving short-term sales, retail media is quickly expanding up the funnel to offer formats more suited to driving awareness or consideration metrics. Off-site display leverages programmatic platforms to target shoppers with display advertisers on the open-web, but increasingly video is becoming an effective format to drive brand outcomes, both on-site and off-site. Criteo data highlights this shift as 1-in-5 Australians (20%) are willing to share their data with advertisers to receive more relevant and personalised video ads.

Another exciting space is the push toward omni-channel advertising – leveraging digital ad opportunities to drive sales both online, and in-store. In-store cooler screens, smart shopping carts, and increasingly sophisticated shopping apps all offer digital ad opportunities which have the potential to drive an in-store outcome. With solutions to address any objective, advertisers are increasingly looking to retail media’s closed loop reporting across all marketing disciplines - brand, performance, shopper & trade.


Tasneem Ali, General Manager: ANZ Media, Pure.amplify

Q. What areas of digital advertising do you see as the most effective for driving consumers to purchase? Have you seen any new trends coming through in the last 12-18 months?

The consumer purchasing journey is no longer a linear process. As multiple touchpoints for purchase engagement continues to become the norm for the digital age, advertisers should opt for an omnichannel approach with similar brand or product messaging spread across multiple channels. When consumers are familiar with a brand or product, advertising efforts are more likely to translate to an increased probability to purchase.

One of the most effective forms of digital marketing is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). As consumers search the digital space to fill a need/want, displaying your company in the correct domain and appearing at the top of their search will ensure consumers are accurately directed to make a purchase. For even better efficiency, advertisers can adopt SEM, which combines organic search results (SEO) with paid search and relies heavily on keywords to drive traffic to business websites and web pages like SEO does. Research shows that 90 percent of consumers who research online already know exactly what they’re looking for, so with SEM utilised at the right time and place, a brand’s content and ads are placed in  front of a highly engaged target audience, who are actively looking for offers. What’s more is that SEM is relatively low cost and a relatively non-intrusive form of advertising.

Social media platforms, specifically video platforms, are also not to be missed in advertising. TikTok is a key platform, as its algorithmic prowess holds the key to driving brand success. The platform harnesses consumer behaviour on the platform and connects with third parties to deliver accurate and relevant content, helping users discover, learn and be entertained by brands. This presents brands at a place and time that induces buying behaviour. Research shows that 38% of TikTok users interacted with a video in the process of doing product research (boosting engagement, exposure and loyalty), and 39% cited “lifting spirits” as a key factor in their decision to purchase a product. Advertisers should continue looking to TikTok as they would any large social media platform.

As linear TV dwindles in engagement, YouTube will also further develop as an advertising powerhouse as the traffic is transferred over to the platform. The platform’s formal advertising placements will continue to grow with incentivised creator partnerships on the platform becoming an immensely powerful way to sell to a unique audience. The established creator’s persona and audience can transfer onto the sponsored brand’s image, driving more purchases. With that in mind, it’s important that brands carefully consider the all attributes of a creator's own ‘brand’ before engaging into a partnership. 

By aligning with reputable platforms, brands will also be able to build credibility. As streaming giants such as Netflix and Disney+ consider introducing ad-supported subscriptions, advertisers must be aware of the potential this space holds. With their enormous audience engagement and the halo effect of engaging content, there is a real opportunity for brands to capitalise on the positive brand association that could be had by advertising with these streaming giants. 

Lastly, for those that are hard to reach consumers who are constantly on the go with limited media consumption and online ad blockers, Digital-Out-Of-Home (DOOH) advertising is emerging as an effective means to reach them.  As foot traffic returns to the outdoors, DOOH works best for targeted, engaging, and data-driven campaigns that connect to audiences with contextual relevance and immediacy. Again,  DOOH is less intrusive and can form a positive part of the landscape, reaching people when they are not trying to avoid any ads online.

Q. As e-commerce grows, what are the most important things that businesses need to consider for a good consumer experience? What retailers or brands do you think are nailing the e-commerce customer experience?

It’s important to remember that while e-commerce interactions occur via a screen, the interaction is still very much with people who are looking to purchase. This means that businesses need to remember to provide a “human touch” to their digital services.

Personalisation is  often key in building strong customer relationships, brand loyalty and higher engagement. Valuable information like a customer’s previous purchases and first-party data on target segments will help tailor a unique purchasing experience.

On the other hand however, customers also expect rapid response times from brands, and if they don’t receive it, an alternative is just a few keyboard clicks away.  Having automations in place to satisfy customer queries also greatly increases the customer experience. A low touch, scalable and efficient automation process is a must to support businesses digital growth.

A good example would be eBay, a platform that nails the e-commerce customer experience by utilising consumer transactional data and platform interaction to create a truly unique experience for each customer. Past transactional data influences the products users see and simultaneously informs businesses advertising on the platform to display relevant deals to specific audience segments.


Nick Larcher, Marketing Director AU, ShopFully

Q. What areas of digital advertising do you see as the most effective for driving consumers to purchase? Have you seen any new trends coming through in the last 12-18 months?

Digital is and has been for a long time the next wave of retailing, with the coronavirus pandemic super-charging these models to adapt to a changing world. As the dust settles and life returns to ‘normal’, we can now see that, despite the convenience and evolution of digital, shoppers have not permanently swayed to purely online retail—they still want and will seek out the in-store experience.

Our recent research, in partnership with Nielsen Media Analytics, found that over two in three (69%) Aussies believe it is essential for retailers to have an online presence and a physical store. In fact, over half (55%) perceive online brands and retailers as more trustworthy if they have a physical storefront nearby.

What this tells us is, despite the advancement of digital channels, the brick-and-mortar store is sticking around. Almost three-quarters (71%) of Aussie consumers are using both physical and online touch points before making a single purchase. It’s important for retailers to keep this mind and best use digital advertising to drive consumers into stores to complete purchases.

Catalogues are a key driver in getting feet in store with three in four (75%) Aussies turning to them when deciding what to buy. Particularly, digital catalogues are skyrocketing with Australian shoppers identifying them as their number one source of information across grocery, department, electronic and health and beauty categories. In the grocery category, digital catalogues are driving customers to stores at a ratio of 62%, with a final conversation rate of 67%.

A relatively new method that has already cemented itself in the European market is proximity marketing to drive shoppers in their local stores. Almost two in five (39%) Aussies revealed they always or sometimes visit a store they are close to after receiving a prompt or notification from a brand, retailer or catalogue app.

Q. We have seen the online experience mirroring in store with elements such as chatbots for questions, what other instore elements could retailers leverage online and vice versa what ecommerce experiences might start being part of the in-store experience?

Both the in-store and online shopping experiences have their own unique strengths. When integrated together, they form an ecosystem that prioritises consumer needs and wants. With digital channels emerging new ways to how we view shopping experiences, it’s important to understand that the physical experience has not reached its expiry date, but that it’s just changed.

As a result, retailers are supercharging their efforts to master the omnichannel experience. For example, half of Australian retailers have already invested in adopting omnichannel, with Click & Collect, delivery on instore and online purchases, and digital stock checks being the most adopted features.

The integration of the online and physical experience is fuelled by consumer demand for streamlined purchasing and convenience. Aussies now more than ever are using their smartphones from the comfort of their homes as a remote control for their shopping decision-making. Shoppers can explore multiple stores, research products on offer, compare deals and seek advice without ever stepping foot into a store. This is backed by our research which revealed four in five (79%) Australians are turning to retailer/brand catalogues, Internet search, online reviews and social media to plan their store visits.

When looking at the in-store experience, devices are being used to simplify the path to purchase and make it more approachable. Retailers are empowering their customers to find products in the store themselves. For example, big names like Bunnings Warehouse share the exact aisle location of products on their website, removing the blocker for customers of not knowing where to search in-store.

With consumers actively wanting to visit physical storefronts, digital channels can help them better understand where they need to go, how to get there, and how to find the products they need. Despite the boom of e-commerce, retail growth will still largely be offline with 98% of Australians still making in-store purchases. Combined with customers' heavy online presence, retailers need to focus on how digital channels can drive consumers in-store, personalising their touch points before they get there.


Adam Payne, Country Manager: AUNZ, Taboola

Q. Lots of new brands that were born online thrived during COVID with a focus on bottom of the funnel marketing. Are we starting to see some of these brands now invest more in brand marketing? 

Yes, we are starting to see newer, online brands shift their focus from bottom-of-the-funnel marketing to brand marketing. During the pandemic, consumers were switching brands at unprecedented rates. So brands had a major opportunity to steal loyal customers from competitors and get their value propositions out there with performance marketing.

By 2021, however, customers have been making it clear that they value trust, transparency and meaningful interactions from brands. As a result, retailers have been changing their marketing strategies. Airbnb, for instance, is an online brand that pulled back on performance marketing with paid search ads and pivoted to brand marketing campaigns.

For example: In 2021, Yarn, a digital community marketplace that features products showcasing Indigenous artwork in Australia were wanting to expand their reach across the open web with sponsored content. They worked with Taboola to launch contextually delivered ads across premium publisher sites. The brand also used proprietary data to reach specific groups of new and returning customers based on their interests. As a result, they were able to boost their brand marketing efforts and get in front of new audiences.

With the looming recession, these new brands will have to strike the delicate balance between continuing to build their brand into a household name while making sure that their advertising dollars count. This will mean that performance advertising will be critical in the coming months. A mature, full-funnel approach should be deployed for these brands, two years after their initial COVID success.