Brands sometimes face a dilemma when it comes to reaching consumers online: how to drive sales without annoying potential customers. Some brands face a more challenging quandary: how to become cool again.
Rachel Tipograph thinks the solution to both problems could be shoppable social video ads. Her New York-based startup, MikMak, makes short infomercials (“minimercials”) and helps retailers monetize their stories on Instagram and Snapchat.
Through its Attach product, for example, MikMak serves as a middleman between a retailer’s daily story on a platform such as Instagram and the actual product available for sale on the retailer’s website. Users are typically prompted to “swipe up” to purchase an item after watching a retailer’s Instagram story or Snapchat ad. When they do so, the items are added to users’ shopping carts at their chosen retailers.
The impetus behind MikMak is that a consumer’s social media experience is often fleeting: He or she may have Instagram open for a mere 30 seconds. That’s not a long time for a promoted product to make an impression.
“The best thing that could possibly happen for the brand is [to] turn that engagement into an active cart,” MikMak Founder and CEO Rachel Tipograph told PYMNTS in an interview. As a result, MikMak seeks to make that happen by turning each impression into an opportunity for retailers to close a sale.
With the consumption of social video so widespread, Tipograph sees all sorts of consumers making use of MikMak’s interface. As a result, she defines her target audience in terms of their behavior as opposed to their demographic: people who consume mobile videos. Many people fall into this segment: “If you have a mobile phone, you are likely participating in this mass behavior,” Tipograph said. To fuel this behavior, videos are popping up all over the web: “Literally, the internet has become one big video,” she said.
To hook people into the video content on MikMak, Tipograph’s company can optimize content that brands provide or produce the content in-house. When producing its own content, Tipograph found that comedians make good spokespeople. That’s because comedians have a critical mission when they take the stage during their shows: They have to instantly connect with their audiences. But MikMak doesn’t limit itself to making videos with comedians; it also offers more straightforward video content using hand models, for example.
MikMak also gives consumers more choice on where to buy advertised products through Attach Multi Cart, but the reason isn’t so much for consumer convenience or preferences. This setup is, in fact, important for major CPG brands that may need to ensure fair and equitable distribution. “We’re doing something that they’re [usually] contractually obligated to do,” Tipograph said. If brands are to buy a bunch of media within an environment like Instagram, for example, they have to give equal love to several retailers such as Amazon, Target and Walmart.
Products and brands run the gamut on MikMak — from apparel to consumer electronics and personal care. Whatever MikMak can help market, video can help sell a product, as it’s a medium almost unmatched by many other forms of communication.
“Nothing trumps sight, sound and motion,” Tipograph said. “It’s why two-thirds of Americans are watching Netflix every single night.”
And retailers gain a distinct benefit from MikMak: As the platform connects directly to a retailer’s own shopping cart, the retailer owns the entire customer relationship. And customers pay for their purchases through retailers by credit cards or mobile wallets such as Apple Pay or Amazon Pay — whatever the retailer offers.
The Road Ahead
When Tipograph started MikMak three years ago, video and commerce was a nascent idea. That idea has since blossomed, and the concept will soon be critical to online sales. “Video is about to be the engine of everyone’s eCommerce strategy,” Tipograph said.
But Tipograph is not stopping with its current product lineup. There’s still much to be done in the customer lifecycle beyond purchasing. As a result, MikMak is seeking to extend its product offerings to help brands even further in that area.
“There’s an entire customer lifecycle that happens after the purchase, so we’re building products around that,” Tipograph said.