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October 2018

Consumers & Smartphones for Holiday Shopping | Facebook Marketplace expands AI features

Consumers & Smartphones for Holiday Shopping | Facebook Marketplace expands AI features

16% of consumers to use smartphones for holiday shopping

The percentage of online consumers who will use their smartphones to shop will grow to 16% this year from 12% in 2017, according to PwC's annual survey of about 2,000 consumers. Even more encouraging for mobile marketers, consumers will boost their holiday spending 5% this year to $1,250 on gifts ($693), travel ($361) and entertainment ($196), the survey found.

Social media companies like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are set to benefit from the 39% of all shoppers who will use "buy" buttons on their smartphones and 25% who click on shoppable photos. Mobile shopping will be particularly popular among Generation Z, with half of the group who plan to complete all their shopping online using a smartphones, per PwC.

High-earning millennials (ages 23-36 making $70,000 or more a year) will be the biggest users of mobile payments, with 50% using their smartphones for in-store payments, compared to 24% of all consumers. Almost half (41%) of this group will use a wearable device like a SmartWatch for an in-store payment, compared with 16% of the general population, the survey found.


PwC's survey results indicate that brands and retailers need to be prepared for the growing number of consumers who will shop on their phones or checkout at stores using a mobile device. Cross-channel strategies will be key with 75% surveyed saying they'll shop both online and in stores, spending more on average ($1,379) than those who shop only online ($1,075) or only in stores ($742).

Social media apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat have been gearing up their mobile commerce capabilities in the past year. All three have added shoppable ads to help brands make direct sales. Instagram rolled out this feature more broadly in September, with easy buying straight from posts by companies and social influencers. Snapchat also started offering self-serve shoppable ads to all advertisers after testing the format in June. The image-messaging app also added a visual search feature that drives shoppers to Amazon to make a purchase. Pinterest introduced its shopping ads in March.

The shift in shopping habits will benefit the likes of Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, which offer dynamic platforms for social influencers, who have the power to affect the purchase decisions of millions of people. Generation Z is more likely than older generations to seek the opinions of social influencers, as 55% of the age group follows influencers with similar interests, compared to 41% for the broader population, per PwC. Influencer marketing is becoming more popular among national advertisers that seek to cut through ad clutter to reach young, ad-fatigued adults who have shifted their viewing to online and mobile platforms. Three-fourths of advertisers currently run some kind of influencer campaign, and about half (43%) plan to raise spending on it in the next 12 months, according to an April survey from the Association of National Advertisers.

By Robert Williams
First Published on mobilemarketeer.com

Facebook Marketplace expands AI features

Facebook has introduced more artificial intelligence (AI) features to its Marketplace for price-range suggestions and auto-categorization, according to a company blog post.

The company is testing camera features using AI for visual search to recommend products of interest to users. It currently uses AI to automatically improve photo quality, as well as to translate product listings and conversations on Messenger. Forbes reported that the entire platform of Marketplace is currently powered by AI.

Facebook Marketplace has a wide array of listings in such categories as vehicles, furniture, electronics, musical instruments and clothing - almost all are from individuals, and are sorted by geo targeting tech. But the company recently added content from businesses providing automobiles, home rentals, home services and offerings from e-commerce retailers.


Facebook Marketplace mainly caters to individual buyers and sellers, like Craigslist, and it doesn't get as much attention in trade discussions of e-commerce on social media. But the broad base of individual users using Facebook Messenger, coupled with the wider universe of Facebook users, could make it an attractive e-commerce destination for businesses.

The newest uses of AI by Facebook Marketplace are the automation of price suggestions and categorization, and this is similar to eBay and Letgo, according to TechCrunch. The technology will help Facebook assign a category to an item based on the photo and seller-supplied description, which can often be very brief "chair," for example and also suggest a price range for the benefit of sellers.

The future camera features will use AI to do a visual search based on photos submitted to the Marketplace and recommend products, according to Facebook's release. For example, a photo of headphones could yield similar listings offered for sale in close proximity to the buyer. In a similar way, it can be used to add a matching piece of apparel to an outfit, or to get suggestions on furniture.

As of the second quarter of the year, Facebook had 2.23 billion monthly active users globally, an 11% increase over the previous year, according to a regulatory filing. One in three U.S. Facebook users go to Marketplace on a monthly basis for products or services, the press release said. There are "millions" of global uses of Marketplace, Forbes noted.

But one report this month indicated that the hype surrounding social media commerce may be excessive. Fifty-eight percent of U.S. adults said social media influences their purchase decisions, compared with 45% in 2016, according to digital commerce firm Sumo Heavy. But while 80% of shoppers are familiar with social commerce, 82% have yet to transact using buy buttons or other forms of social commerce.

Most people are wary because of security and privacy concerns. However, 74% said they are open to making a purchase through chatbots. That's an area Facebook Messenger has cashed in on.

Facebook-owned Instagram is also reportedly developing a shopping app, according to The Verge, and is driving jewelry sales, according to Edited. Meanwhile, Facebook recently filed a patent application for a payments capability based on AI that would work within Messenger, CB Insights found.

There are only preliminary signs that Facebook is moving Marketplace beyond the Craigslist-like hodge-podge of used products, housing and garage sales from individuals. If and when it does, tech advances like AI it is incorporating could help it succeed with corporate advertisers selling new goods and services. It may yet become a force in a growing online marketing space where names like Amazon, Walmart and eBay dominate in the U.S., and Alibaba, JD.com, Rakuten and Flipkart are prominent on the global stage.

By Dan Alaimo
First published on facebook.com

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