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The Reel Opportunity

Reels are capturing more and more share of ad impressions

The commerce graveyard is littered with poor attempts at shoe-horning (dtc) commerce into social media. Facebook shops, Pinterest’s buyable pins, twitter shops, instagram checkout.

Each carried merit - a chance to shift the shopping landscape. But, each discounted or dismissed a fundamental retailing reality.

Shoppers are thoughtful.

As much as we’ve flattened the funnel of the commerce experience (remember those looooong checkout flows before Apple Pay and Shop Pay saved our fat fingers?), there are moments of doubt throughout the experience that must be overcome. And, backing up a checkout to a social loading dock is simply not shopper-first.

The curious (expected?) case of social commerce failure is only a footnote in this post. The real story is, well, reels. And it is about what’s currently trending in attraction, not so much conversion.

While the shop tab was removed during the most recent Insta facelift, the reels tab is core to Instagram’s experience, and increasingly engagement is happening there. Which means that advertisers are flocking there.

Reels impressions have soared in the past year, delivering 11% of Insta’s ad impressions (from 2.5% last year). Meta-haters will point to Reels as their reaction to TikTok (and rightfully so), but the two offerings work together to emphasize the worst kept secret across DTC - we love video. It draws us in. It tells a story. Video evokes emotion and emotion attracts.

This emotion is what advances us to a brand’s site, which then caters to our pragmatic and thoughtful shoppers.

We’ve essentially operated two siloes shopping modes - emotion-led attraction and pragmatic conversion.

And, while social has thus far been unable to pull conversion into it, site experiences are still nascent in weaving video throughout the site experience.

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