Shopify quietly announced a program last week where it will buy Google and Meta ads on behalf of its merchants. The goal is to drive consumers to storefronts on both the consumer-facing Shop app and Shopify’s web-based storefront, which launched last November.
This new program, called Shop Campaigns, is the first time Shopify is providing full marketing services for its merchants. Shopify allows consumers buying through Shop to redeem cashback offers. Those offers will soon be promoted as ads on Meta and Google, though Shopify declined to specify when.
“Our goal is to help merchants achieve meaningful results efficiently and risk free, whether it’s through the Shop app and web or other platforms, to grow faster by reaching a broader range of buyers,” Shopify’s director of product Andrius Baranauskas said in an email.
Shopify does have a two-year old product called Shopify Audiences where its shopper data can be used to target ads on Meta, Snap, Google, and through the adtech firm Criteo. However, Shopify Audiences is usually used by Shopify’s large enterprise merchants to help supplement their existing ad campaigns.
Shop Campaigns can be used by all of Shopify’s merchants. Advertisers set the price they’re willing to pay to acquire a shopper — also called a cost per acquisition — and Shopify will run ads on Meta and Google properties to find those customers. Shopify claims that Shop Campaigns have helped brands like Thrive Cosmetics and Caraway acquire more than 1 million customers.
“This low-lift acquisition program means merchants don’t need to fuss about creative assets or complex configuration and targeting — instead they have a powerful way to pay only for converting customers,” said Glen Coates, Shopify VP of product, in a YouTube video explaining the new feature.
Shopify is poised to become a major ad buyer
James Borow, cofounder of AI adtech firm Market AI, predicted that Shopify’s new product will make Shopify a top ad spender with Meta and Google.
“Shopify is going to become one of the largest advertisers in the world — they have a lot of leverage when dealing with all these partners,” he said. “I really think it’s one of the biggest deals in adtech in a long time if they can pull it off.”
He compared Shopify Campaign to Meta’s now defunct Audience Network, where Meta placed ads on publishers’ websites outside of Meta. Despite its popularity, Meta shut down the product in 2020 largely because of Apple’s decision to clamp down on ad targeting for tracking.
“They’re basically taking the Facebook Audience Network playbook and they’re redoing it around Shopify,” Borow said. “The Shopify campaign manager is going to become the equivalent of the e-commerce Facebook ad manager.”
Borow said that Shopify’s tool puts more pressure on smaller social platforms like Snap and Reddit to prove to Shopify merchants that their platforms can acquire new customers.
Mike Ryan, head of e-commerce insights at agency Smarter Ecommerce, said that Shop Campaigns are also an important way for Shopify to drive customers and sales to Shop.
“The success of any marketplace hinges on achieving critical mass – you need enough consumers to attract brands, and enough brands to attract consumers,” he said. “Shopify has no shortage of brands, so the long-term success of their Shop app depends heavily on getting customers interested and keeping them interested. Shop Campaigns are another tool in the toolbox.”
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