Shoppable Ads: The Era of Social Shopping

With the holidays fast approaching, most consumers are starting to shop for the perfect gifts for family, friends and loved ones. However, with the rise of online shopping (cough cough Amazon) and ease of use on mobile improving, it’s no wonder why consumers are dodging crowded shopping malls and making all of their holiday purchases from the comfort of their couch. Gone are the days of people flipping through holiday flyers that land on their doorstep; this information now sits at your fingertips and is just a tap away from being crossed off your list.

Social platforms identified this change early on, and have adapted their products to provide shoppable solutions to mirror the consumption behaviors and demands of shoppers today. To keep you in the know this holiday season, we’ve put together a list of the most recent shoppable format opportunities by platform and what this means for advertisers.

Facebook & Instagram

The vast portfolio of shoppable ad formats and placements across these platforms act as testing grounds for expansion ads and full-screen experiences. Ad formats such as Collection units and Instant Experiences combine brand and direct-response elements, like video and product catalogs, while offering features that link to purchases directly in-app; allowing users to purchase without leaving their social environments. This, combined with advanced forms of measurement and 1st party targeting capabilities, puts these platforms as the frontrunners in the social ecommerce space.

Collections Units – Allows advertisers to showcase products, specifically enhancing the mobile ecommerce experience. The functionality of this ad unit keeps users shopping in platform and can dynamically update if linked to a product catalog or feed.

Instant Experiences – Designed to capture complete attention of your audience, this ad unit allows for shoppers to engage with multiple products by viewing, tilting, panning and scrolling; creating a microsite-like experience within the platforms. With the opportunity to host multiple exit points to your website or app within the unit, it enables advertisers to turn consumer intent into valuable actions like purchase.

StoriesCaptures users in an immersive, full screen environment. Recent additions to this format allows for shopping stickers, which takes users to additional product details with an option to buy when tapped, as well as integration of other formats such as Carousels & Instant Experiences; enabling multi-product functionality and creating deeper, more engaging experience.


In September 2018, Snap rolled out self-serve shoppable ads to all advertisers. After launching the Shoppable AR Lenses in April, Snap has reportedly been testing other shoppable formats since June with partners such as and eBay.

Shoppable AR LensesEnables advertisers to add a “Buy Now,” “Watch” or “Install Now” button to branded Lenses, turning every branded Snapchat selfie into a potential purchase, video view or app download.

Collections – Part of this year’s global rollout, Collection units are formatted similarly to Facebook product catalogs and can feature up to four shoppable products. Snap allows for product feeds, custom audience creation and snap pixel placement opportunities to track ecommerce activity directly within platform.


As of October 2018, Pinterest has converted its Buyable Pins to Product Pins. This ad format brings shoppers directly to checkout pages on advertisers’ sites. Currently this format is only live in U.S. markets, but will be rolling out to other international markets soon.

Product Pins Makes it easier for Pinners to see information about products being sold; including information such as pricing, availability and buy location.


While Twitter has made advancements in their offerings that help build brand awareness and foster social engagement, there has been little movement in the way of shoppable solutions outside of tactical formats that have been available for some time. With the rise of online shopping and advancements across other platforms, it will be interesting to see how Twitter adapts over the coming year.


LinkedIn has made strides to improve its offerings to stay competitive with other social platforms, such as the addition of Carousel units and objective-based bidding. However, LinkedIn still has some ways to go before being able to offer effective shoppable solutions to advertisers.

What does this mean for Advertisers?

Shoppable ads have become businesses digital storefront, enabling brands to showcase products that are personalized to their audiences and available for purchase with the tap of a finger. They are designed to not only boost sales and create a more efficient path to purchase, but also reduce the elapsed time between initial exposure to a product and the triggered purchase. It’s no wonder that recent studies suggest that “as many as 87 per cent of ecommerce shoppers believe social media influences their shopping decisions.”1

Here are a few key tips on how advertisers can get their start & become successful using shoppable ads:

  1. Ensure platform pixels (analytic codes) are properly placed on-site in order to properly track e-commerce site activity. Make sure pixels are firing properly on conversion events you wish to track and optimize towards.
  2. Ensure you have successfully built or linked a dynamic product feed to the platforms. This will enable platforms to pull in up-to-date products and product information, as well as open up dynamic creative opportunities in order to deliver a more personalized experience to consumers.
  3. Build 1st party audiences based on site actions for targeting purposes. This will allow you to group users based on products they’ve shown interest in, convert users who have dropped-off in the conversion funnel and re-engage existing customers.
  4. Implement a Test and Learn approach. Shoppable ads open up a plethora audience, platform, format, placement & creative opportunities, so it is important to test your way in and be dynamic in the optimizations you’re making in order to drive stronger performance.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to SOCIETY@ME to see where shoppable solutions fit into your social strategy. We are here to help you make the most of your Q4 and 2019 planning!

By: Sarah Kincaid, Sr. Specialist, SOCIETY@ME