Another day, another new media product! Well, it’s only available in the US, but it’s still exciting for us on this side of the pond.

Twitter has announced that, like Google did in July, they too are testing a ‘Buy Now’ function. Customers can buy products and services direct within Twitter – no need to go to a pesky retailer site, just search, click and done. Apparently.

Twitter has clearly invested in the functionality because it will be compatible with Bigcommerce, Demandware and Shopify. The reason? To “remove much of the friction in the mobile purchasing process.”

I can’t argue with the need for that. It mirrors the announcement from Google that they aim for the functionality to improve conversions on mobile and the results from the US will be fascinating to see. Can mobile conversions really be increased to equal desktop? If they can, then surely every ecommerce site will want it?

Well, maybe not straight away…

  • Paths to conversions are getting ever more complex and convoluted. This functionality may well facilitate purchases on a mobile but how will the customer have got to that point? If they see a ‘Buy Now’ ad early in their journey, couldn’t that put them off? Sophisticated targeting aligned to where customers are in their journey is fundamental to making this work.
  • It could hinder brand engagement and advocacy. Again on the buying cycle, buying direct from an ad will stop the engagement with the brand. The experience brands invest in heavily for their websites suddenly becomes less important. How does the brand market to that customer in the future? How do you encourage repeat and cross-selling? How can they build a relationship and create an advocate? There could in fact be some resistance from brands in seemingly being ‘removed’ from the conversion process.

But what is really going on here?

Reading between the lines and thinking back to other Google algorithm updates (mobilegeddon for example). There is a concerted effort and push by the media platforms for businesses to focus on their mobile strategy.

May 2015 was the point at which Google reported there were more searches on mobile than on desktop. The media platforms seem to be looking at what they can do to make businesses keep up with the consumer demands they are seeing.

They are starting to recognise that businesses are still battling to put ‘mobile first’ and a key factor in this is lack of clarity regarding the return on investment. Using the standard last click attribution model, the low mobile ROI isn’t sufficiently attractive enough for brands to invest in it. But we all know the story is more complex and mobile has an important role to play in assisted conversions. We just need clear numbers to make it stack up.

It’s in everyone’s interest to work together and find a way to quantify, clearly, the value of investing in mobile.

Ultimately, the agenda seems to be about playing catch-up with consumers’ digital habits and really making ‘mobile first’ for businesses. The media platforms have the power to force that shift as they have consumers on their side.