Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Havas: Social media platforms will become own fully-fledged marketplaces

The pandemic has brought new audiences to the world of ecommerce, including some older audiences who have been more-or-less forced to embrace the world of online shopping. At the same time, it’s forced brands to adapt in order to keep their businesses afloat. Many restaurants, for example, made the decision to start shipping ingredients to enable people to recreate their dining experience at home.

In October last year, having seen the massive growth in online shopping driven by the pandemic, Havas Media Group launched its full-service ecommerce offering, Havas Market. The consultancy was set up to help to create a more meaningful and seamless shopping experience for consumers by supporting clients on their commerce journeys.

“Ecommerce has been growing steadily pretty much year-on-year over the last decade. But the pandemic did transform and supercharge ecommerce overnight,” says Paul Bland, Head of Biddable Media at Havas.

“The share of ecommerce sales accelerated five years in probably less than three months. And it has continued to maintain in many ways, which is unsurprising given that we are shopping, working, doing more things from the home environment, rather than going outside and engaging with traditional retail.”

Delivering convenience

Bland believes that these changes in consumer behaviour are here to stay, but expects we will see ecommerce usage drop slightly below what it was last year, while still staying above the levels we saw in 2019, with physical stores, restaurants, bars etc. all open again.

“There will be a whole host of different behaviours that continue to persist, even as people return to work,” says Bland. “There will be experiences that people have found that are now actually preferred, such as the grocery shop having become easier to have delivered. People are much more comfortable with those behaviours and won’t revert back to exactly how they were before.”

With people increasingly comfortable shopping online, Bland also feels this will drive the continued evolution of shoppable media – something that had been gaining traction even prior to the pandemic.

In fact, he believes that we will begin to move away from shoppable ads toward social media platforms becoming “more fully-fledged marketplaces themselves”.

“We’ll move from shoppable ads to the likes of Facebook essentially becoming a marketplace within its own ecosystem, where you can discover and purchase products on the platform,” Bland suggests. “That’s pretty nascent at the moment, but I believe that area will grow.

“For brands, that means they have to think about the infrastructure they have that enables them to do that. It moves from having single points of contact with clients to having lots of different touchpoints where I can go from discovery to purchase and fulfilment within different environments.”

On the market

Havas Market had been in the works due to the general growth in ecommerce, even prior to the pandemic. And the consultancy offers some of the services that Havas had already been offering clients for a number of years.

One of the areas that Havas Market covers with its solutions is the aforementioned issues around infrastructure, where it helps clients to get the most out of their direct-to-consumer offerings.

“We know that many customers would completely switch their brand choice if the page speed load was a few seconds too slow or the online journey experience is poor,” says Bland. “So, delivering the most effective and efficient online experience is absolutely critical for success.”

Havas Market also consults on marketplaces, because “discoverability on those digital shelves is of critical importance for brands”; media, because the “gap between the visibility of an ad, the consideration phase, and the purchase is closing via new formats”; and the online-to-offline journey, which is of critical importance with retail environments open again.

“We setup Havas Market to enable clients to take advantage of all these growth opportunities,” Bland explains. “And it’s built in a modular way that enables clients to tap into the solutions they need for growth in those specific areas.

“Though a brand might be doing well in one area, it’s more than likely that there’s another area they’re not optimising quite as well. It really depends on the journey that particular brand is on.

“Digital experiences have become more important than ever before and our role is in helping brands deliver those most meaningful retail experiences,” Bland concludes.