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Author: Liv Rutter & Lewis Stretton 
Welcome to the May edition, where we share the updates in the world of digital. 

Poor online search functions are costing retailers nearly £2bn per year 

What is it?: A study by Algolia an AI Search solution suggests that retailers are losing money based on poor online search function and categorising. The study of 2001 consumers shows that retailers lose an average of £85 per customer, estimating towards £1.7 billion in revenue per year. Looking into more detail we see that amongst Gen Z and Millennial shoppers their average loss accounts to £113 and £87 respectively. 
 
Why is it important?: This is important as we see more Gen Z and Millennials abandoning their online shopping carts and this is because they are finding it difficult to search for trend related items. It’s important as retailers don’t lose out by not supporting these demographics (Gen Z and Millennials) who account for quarter of our total spend in the UK, which is only going to increase, with Gen Z's disposable income increasing. To stop the loss of money a solution needs to be created to convert social media trends watched by these audiences from TikTok and Instagram Trends into search functionalities. 
 
What action should you take?: A number of retailers, including big retail giants like SHEIN have opted in to using AI tools for trend predictions or personalised recommendations, however experts say “retailers must take the step forward and cater these into search capabilities and implement AI personalisation to bridge the gap between inspiration and purchase”. 
 

Rakuten Advertising doubles down on AI 

What is it?: This month Rakuten Advertising have announced that they are releasing significant updates to its platform with AI technologies leading the way. So, over the next few months, Rakuten will update: 
 
Audience Engine: They will enhance Performance Reporting and API upgrades for improved automation, transparency and analytics. 
 
Affiliate Conversion Journey: Introduce New Paid Placements Overlays and Promo Code Overlays to analyse the impact of placements and promotion during a customer journey. 
 
Partnership Discovery: The partnership discovery tool will bring ‘Top Categories’ recommendations, using AI driven product feed to identify missed opportunities. They will also expand search capabilities by brand and audience. 
 
Why is it important?: It is important, as these updates will not only help advertisers and publishers using Rakuten Advertising. But it's important to see where AI will fit into the affiliate marketing industry and how major networks like Rakuten Advertising position themselves with AI technologies. Rakuten Advertising are taking that first step by introducing many tools and features like the partnership discovery tool. 
 
What action should you take?: With the update not available yet, we suggest you should keep a close eye on when this is 100% introduced on the platform. It is also important you keep a close eye on the affiliate marketing industry to learn how it can take advantage of AI. 
 

You now have the opportunity to opt-in for Google’s video enhancement tool 

What is it?: Google is now allowing more advertisers to opt into “Video enhancements” for video ad campaigns. This is a new AI tool which automatically generates multiple video formats. 
 
Why is it important?: Due to an increase in videos being consumed on mobile devices, making sure you consider different formats to cater for different platforms is crucial. Googles aim is to use this new tool, to improve overall production efficiency by automatically generating additional video formats, from original assets. 
 
What action should you take?: The video enhancement tool is enabled by default for new video ad campaigns. To try this, upload a standard horizontal video of your choice. AI will then generate additional versions of your video clip in different aspect ratios like verticals (9:16, 4:5) and square (1:1). Additionally, the tool will intelligently crop and reposition the video to focus on key elements. AI will also create shorter video clips by cutting down the longer video so you can highlight key moments. 
 

Social media ads overtake TV and search engines for consumer discovery 

What is it?: A recent study carried out by GWI showed that 38% of consumers are now using social media platforms to discover new brands and products. More specifically, 42% of Gen Z consumers said that they mainly use social media for shopping-related research. Additionally, 2 out of 5 consumers who bought a product on TikTok Shop said they had discovered the brand or seller on the app. 
 
Why is it important?: These figures show us that ideally we should be focusing our efforts more on social media platforms. Below is an image taken from GWI that shows us which platform is used more frequently per generation. So, depending on your audience, you may want to switch your focus onto a different platform. 
 
What actions should you take?: We would recommend shifting your focus on to social media platforms and consider the above table when choosing your preferred platform. 
 

Bonus Update 

Google Core update in March brought many discussions to the world of SEO. Semrush shared the date and key updates about the Google March Core Update. Analysing the Google Core Update has been very difficult. There were multiple reasons for this, firstly the length of the update to roll out, but also the death of the helpful core update. They also stated they saw huge movement at the bottom half of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Also, a lot of movement near the bottom of page 1, however the top results didn’t seem to see this. This doesn’t mean that there wasn’t movement at the top of a SERP , however less significant compared to previous updates. The final statement carried out by Mordy Oberstein and Semrush is that you can’t just sweep across the web and look at the top-level data. To get a better understanding, you have to deep dive on who was impacted and the nature of that impact, doing more of a qualitative analysis. 
 

Our final thoughts ... 

As the eCommerce landscape increases in competiveness and becomes more expensive to acquire a customer, maximising every user that is on a retailers digital presence is more important than ever. The recent study by Algolia shows the importance of getting the basics right. The search functionality is often an overlooked feature, however our experience shows that search can be used by at least 50% of potential customers, to support product discovery and is a vital tool for first time customers. Delivering real-time personalised product recommendations, trending searches and associated educational content, is an absolute must to enhance basket value and conversion rate. 
 
For further information on any of the latest product updates or anything new that is on your mind, get in touch with our team of digital experts today. 
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