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Author: Haley Henschel

Commerce Imagery 101: Our Unofficial Guide to Choosing Product Photos for Native Articles

Commerce Imagery 101: Our Unofficial Guide to Choosing Product Photos for Native Articles

Quick: How long do you think it took your brain to form an opinion about this webpage?

If you guessed less than two-tenths of a second, please come collect your prize. That’s according to researchers at the Missouri Institute of Science and Technology, who evaluated users’ rapid-fire first impressions and found that they’re often the determining factors in a site’s overall favorability (or lack thereof).

Let’s think about these findings in terms of commerce content. If you want your readers to stick around in the hopes of getting them to make a purchase, there needs to be something on your page that hooks them in immediately — something like a decent product image.

We could write an Odyssey-sized book on all the reasons why it’s important to prioritize strong imagery as part of your native commerce strategy: Compared to its text-only counterpart, visual content is easier for our brains to process, helps viewers better remember your message, and receives tons more views. (In the most basic sense, it’s just more interesting to look at.) But what separates a bad product image from a good one, or a good one from a great one?

We’re glad you asked. Here’s a brief primer on choosing photos for native articles that answers that question and more:

First off, what differentiates commercial versus editorial imagery?

The key distinction between the two lies in their subject matter, as well as the ways in which they treat these subjects. Visuals that have been taken for editorial purposes feature real-life people, events, or places, which are typically newsworthy. Their subjects are captured in a truthful, unbiased manner in order to tell or give context to a story.

On the flip side, commercial photos are designed to promote a business or sell something, and typically spotlight recognizable logos and brands.

So then what’s product photography?

Product photography is a subtype of commercial photography in which specific goods and services are modeled and/or demonstrated in an appealing way for the purpose of being sold. Basically, it shows customers what exactly it is they’re buying — what a product looks like, what it’s made of, how it works, etc.

What are some different kinds of product photography?

There are two main styles you need to know, the first being white background product photography. This is exactly what it sounds like: An image of a product, taken in a studio, that’s sitting or floating on a plain white background.

On-white photography

The second kind of product photography is known as a lifestyle shot, or a photo that shows a product in the context of its intended use. This type of imagery shows potential customers what they could be doing if they owned the featured product.

Lifestyle photography

Which style of product photography is better for native commerce?

Both have their pros and cons, but generally, lifestyle shots lend themselves better to native commerce. Sure, those white-background photos are clean and easy to shoot, but they look really advertorial, which sort of defeats the purpose of a native article that’s supposed to blend seamlessly with the rest of your editorial content.

How can you tell a good product image from a bad one?

No matter their style, good product visuals are always high quality (i.e, they aren’t blurry or pixelated). We’ll let eCommerce guru Gregory Beyrouti explain: “With HD images, website visitors get to see the quality and details of the product in full,” he told a product photography firm last year. “It reassures them and might convince them to make the purchase. By contrast, a low-quality image looks amateurish and makes it much harder to get conversions when your competitors are doing a better job.”

Furthermore, a good product image will always jive with a publisher’s brand. For example: If you’re a luggage company that’s promoting your newest suitcase model on Mashable, you’ll want to use a lead image that features a young, hip person using said suitcase.

Want to learn more about honing your native commerce strategy, or how you can promote your products with StackCommerce? Click here to get in touch with our team.

4 Common Mistakes Publishers Make With Native Commerce (And How to Avoid Them)

4 Common Mistakes Publishers Make With Native Commerce (And How to Avoid Them)

In a perfect world, everyone would love native commerce as much as we do — and for the most part, that’s true. (Just ask our partners!) But occasionally, this increasingly popular approach to content marketing doesn’t work as planned.

Think about it: native commerce works because it allows publishers to recommend relevant, niche products to their readers on the comfort of their favorite sites, sans disruptions. This tactic relies heavily upon the idea that a sense of trust has already been established between the brand and the reader, who looks to the former as a source of authentic endorsements. So if those product recommendations don’t effectively mingle with other content in some way or another, it simply doesn’t work.

It should come as no surprise that our modus operandi here at StackCommerce is to help you avoid such blunders so both you and your readers get the most out of your native commerce strategy. With that in mind, let’s go over four trust-eroding mistakes publishers commonly make, and how to avoid them so that your deals thrive alongside the rest of your site:

Mistake #1: Offering the reader a discount and nothing more.

Your commerce content should provide value to the reader beyond saving them money on an interesting item or service. That way, they won’t see it as a one-sided deal strictly for advertising purposes in which only the publisher benefits. Add an intriguing statistic or two, a compelling anecdote, or other useful information to your narratives to make your product recommendations just as enjoyable to read as your editorial content.

Mistake #2: Displaying your commerce content in special fonts and colors.

It might be tempting to make your commerce offerings pop with flashy formatting and whatnot, but if the content is visibly different from the flow of your site, it’s going to seem distracting. By keeping all of your content looking stylistically similar, your user experience is going to be far more seamless.

Mistake #3: Not clearly labeling your commerce content as such.

It’s a problem that’s also encountered quite frequently within the realm of sponsored content, and one that got the Kardashian-Jenners in trouble a couple years back: Failing to disclose the fact that copy is, in fact, promoting a product can be misleading and confusing to readers. (It’s also a pretty unethical choice on the publisher’s part, but you already knew that, right?) Even just a simple, one- or two-sentence disclosure before or after your posts can provide the transparency you need to maintain your credibility as a resource.

Mistake #4: Recommending products that aren’t aligned with your brand.

We touched on this briefly in our guide to Valentine’s Day commerce, but the idea applies to virtually any deal: Implementing a successful native commerce strategy starts with choosing deals that complement your brand — deals that you yourself would take advantage of. They shouldn’t seem intrusive; rather, they should be extra perks that double-down on the same perspective or mission that brought readers to your site in the first place.

Want even more tips on how to hone your approach to native commerce? Click here to find out how you can partner with StackCommerce.

How to Win Valentine’s Day with Commerce Content

How to Win Valentine’s Day with Commerce Content

As Valentine’s Day 2019 approaches, love may be in the air, but so are plenty of questions surrounding your approach to a relevant content marketing strategy. Let’s face it: This is one divisive holiday. Some of us see it as an opportunity to splurge on elaborate romantic gestures for a partner — but plenty others brush it off as a tacky, singlehood-snubbing affair that’s commercialism at its worst. No matter which of those viewpoints you ascribe to, the statistics don’t lie: Valentine’s Day spending is projected to surpass $20 billion this year, with participatory buyers expected to plunk down an average of $162 apiece — up nearly 13% from last year. What’s more, today’s consumers are looking beyond their significant others while they’re shopping, with gifts for non-romantic recipients (i.e., friends, family, co-workers, classmates, and even pets) on the rise. And among younger consumers, the holiday presents a perfect opportunity to treat themselves to something special, whether it be a physical gift or some much-needed self care. Moral of the story: Contentious as it may be, people are still willing to spend, spend, spend for the Valentine’s Day experience of their choosing. With that in mind, here are five tips on how to craft an effective native commerce strategy for the holiday that both you and your audience adore.

1. Stay true to your brand.

Say you’re a publisher that covers the latest in tech. Would you run a Valentine’s Day special for artisanal candles that smell like conversation hearts? No. No you would not. That’s an extreme example, but the message holds: Make sure your festive sales don’t seem out of place among the rest of your content. That way, your native commerce offerings can live happily next to editorial content without distracting or alienating any readers, creating a seamless user experience.
Image via Good Housekeeping

2. Give roundups a try.

Consumers may know who they’re shopping for, but they don’t always know *what* they’re shopping for. Give them a few ideas by throwing together a roundup or two that’s personalized for a specific recipient. This approach works especially well if you want to optimize your content for SEO, because it’s easy to toss in themed keywords throughout your copy without them seeming forced. (Pro tip: “Gifts for [her, boyfriend, husband etc.]” searches are ridiculously popular ‘round this time of year.)

3. Beat the competition.

Spoiler alert: Everyone else is offering some pretty great deals, too. Up your game to stand out by offering limited-time perks, like free shipping or two-for-one bargains. Consumers have a *lot* of Valentine’s Day ads to wade through, so you need to go the extra mile to get them to care about your sales.

4. Make single shoppers feel included.

… Because even though they’re not buying for a significant other, they’re still buying. The National Retail Federation reports that about one in four people who aren’t technically celebrating the holiday still plan on picking up a little something special for themselves, celebrating with their fellow singles, or hunting down an “anti-Valentine’s Day” gift. (Millennials and Gen Zers are huge fans of this approach.) Another popular purchase among singles this V-Day? Gifts for their pets. With a quarter of consumers under the age of 35 planning on buying a festive present for their animal companions, literal millions of dollars will be spent on Fluffy and Fido come February 14. See if you can scrounge up some deals just for them, whether it’s a pet camera, a dog DNA test, or a powerful new vacuum to combat all that hair.
Image via Mashable

5. Be aware that timing really is everything.

Research has shown that most shoppers wait ‘til the very last minute to get their online Valentine’s Day shopping done (especially when it comes to flower purchases), with web traffic peaking on February 12 and 13. As such, you’ll want to organize your promotions accordingly by pacing deals to increase in quality and quantity as the holiday approaches. Now, this isn’t a free pass to put off planning your Valentine’s Day strategy to the last minute. (You know better than that.) But as far as deals go, feel free to plan those babies out well through the big day. Want even more tips on how to get the most out of Valentine’s Day marketing strategy? Click here to partner with StackCommerce and let us source amazing deals that fit your audience.
DIGITAL NATIVES: HOW GEN Z IS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF NATIVE COMMERCE

DIGITAL NATIVES: HOW GEN Z IS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF NATIVE COMMERCE

The CEO of an analytics firm once went on the record to declare that Generation Z “will be the most sophisticated consumers in the history of consumerism.” That might shock a lot of brands, as Gen Z — that is, the post-Millennial demographic born after 1997 — is perhaps most widely known as a bunch of detached, distracted screen junkies who recently decided it was cool to eat Tide Pods ironically.

Unlike their predecessors, Gen Z has had a lifelong relationship with the internet and can be tricky when it comes to marketing. Many brands simply don’t take Gen Z seriously, or even worse, just lump them in with Millennials.

Here’s the thing, though: research has shown that Gen Z’s internet-centric lifestyle has shaped them into thoughtful buyers who make well-informed purchases and eagerly interact with brands. In other words, they know what they want and aren’t afraid to seek it out. Plus, they’re on track to be the largest demographic of consumers by 2020 with enormous direct spending power — anywhere from $29 to $500 billion, depending on who you ask.

So, without further ado, here’s how you can structure your native commerce strategy so as not to miss out on Gen Z as a major market opportunity.

1. Make authenticity a priority.

Gen Zers are just like Baby Boomers in that they’re hesitant to offer up their personal info unless a brand is transparent with its benefits. And since they grew up bombarded with targeted ads, they prefer ads that are authentic and relatable, not outwardly persuasive or motivated merely by a desire to sell.

As a business, you’re best off portraying yourself to Gen Z less like a brand and more like a person. Native content make this an easy approach to adopt, providing a venue in which you can engage with the reader/consumer in a friendly, conversational voice, as if you were talking and making recommendations to an old pal rather than a client.

2. Help great deals shine.

When it comes to thriftiness, Gen Z are even shrewder than diamond-killing Millennials. In fact, experts say that modern teenagers will go so far as to encourage stronger price sensitivity within their own parents.

Since the average attention span of a Gen Zer is only about 8 seconds, it’s necessary to clearly (but casually) mention a product’s value or discount within the first few sentences of a post (in the headline is even better). Put a deal down the copy any further, and the reader will deem your message irrelevant and simply scroll on by.

gen z native commerce

3. Make your content easily shareable.

Having grown up idolizing social media influencers rather than traditional celebrities, Gen Z loves sharing content and — more importantly — loves being noticed for sharing content. Make it easier for them to do so in just a click or two by adding sharing buttons wherever possible, and making sure your site’s loading speeds are lightning fast.

Oh, and on a related note: Gen Z isn’t as active on Facebook as older generations, but that’s not to say they completely shun it. Studies have shown that they divide their time pretty evenly between Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, with the former being used primarily for engaging with brands to find deals and discounts. That makes the Zuck’s social network a great home for your native content.

4. Add a short, informative videos to posts whenever possible.

Not only does Gen Z love to watch videos — nine out of ten of them report visiting YouTube every day — but they love to learn by watching videos. When it comes to native content, then, consider embedding clips of product demonstrations or informative footage of products in action in your posts to further engage the demographic.

That being said, make sure the clips are brief — remember, a Gen Zer’s average attention span is only a few seconds long; anything longer than a minute or so will be considered a waste of their time.

5. Having a mobile-friendly site will be even more important than it is now.

A 2016 Google report summed it up best: “While Millennials were mobile pioneers, teens are mobile natives.” They got their first phones at a younger age than their predecessors, and dedicate hours of their attention every day to their devices.

Given their intimate relationship with phones, then, it should come as no surprise that much of Gen Z’s spending is done via smartphone. As such, creating content that’s optimized for mobile viewing won’t just be an option, but an absolute must. And if you provide Gen Z with a seamless content experience that doesn’t involve waiting for pages to load or flipping between apps, you can bet that they’ll be back — wallets at the ready — time and time again.