Looking ahead to 2018: the future of e-commerce

Sortable Ad Ops

As the new year approaches fast, we're thinking about what trends will surface in 2018. In this instalment, Jennifer Fields, Head of Publisher Development, shares her thoughts on the changing landscape of e-commerce.

While Sortable's roots are in traditional ad optimization, we've been working with publishers to surface powerful, informative monetization, marketing and content data to help them make better decisions. We've historically focused primarily on supporting digital publishers and discovering we can help address common challenges that e-commerce sites face too. I know these concerns and challenges all too well coming from eBay, where I led our display advertising agency sales efforts for Kijiji, eBay, and StubHub in Canada.

Many of our publisher clients are running marketing campaigns to drive traffic to their sites, and understanding how one campaign performs in comparison to another is critical to their success. Through our UTM reporting, they can see how a particular campaign translates into actual ad revenue. Marketers in e-commerce can also use this data for a full analysis on the the total revenue earned by their efforts (ad revenue + conversion revenue).

Publishers also struggle with understanding how to structure their site to increase user engagement. Conversion tools for e-commerce can help you measure when a visitor converts, but our rich analytics can provide insights into how changes to your site could increase the likelihood of conversion. We have helped numerous publishers with test pagination, page layouts, and a variety of other variables, so they can improve user experience and keep visitors engaged. We're able to apply this testing to e-commerce sites as well. If you were able to test the placement of your Buy Now button, or compare conversion metrics when a high-value item is shown on the fourth page vs. the first page, you could gather tremendous amounts of data to improve your business and, ultimately, make more money.

We are also able to help with ad optimization. For many e-commerce businesses, it may seem counterintuitive to place ads because they compete with conversions. But, it is possible for ads to exist harmoniously in an e-commerce model, as long as it's done strategically with care and nuance. Again, we use page segmenting to A/B test page layouts, so e-commerce sites can find an optimal balance of ads that generate revenue, without cannibalizing conversions. Understanding how ads affect clicks and conversions on your products helps identify opportunities to have your cake, and eat it too.

Advertising on your site also allows you to collect additional information about your audience. Weaving programmatic advertiser data with your own first-party data can help round out your broader audience and buyer intent. Combining these data sources provides a greater understanding of where your revenue comes from and the behaviour of your visitors. Analyzing this behaviour gets us closer and closer to a world where we understand the likelihood of a visitor converting to a sale, and how future advertising opportunities (i.e. direct deals) can be made based on that data.

2017 saw changes happen at a rapid pace, which saw the industry rethink and react ” it was difficult to keep up, much less get ahead. Competition in the e-commerce space is stiffer than ever, so businesses need to leverage streamlined data and insights to identify opportunities to innovate. I think 2018 will be the year that more e-commerce sites will venture into new revenue streams, including advertising, and I'm excited to be a part of that transformation.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.