Twitter Stops Development of Its ‘Buy’ Button

hand holding Twitter blue bird

The “buy” button has been called the next step in social commerce, transforming social media sites into e-commerce platforms where users can make a purchase without ever leaving the site. By 2015, all the major social networks were testing different versions of the “buy” button, with sites like Pinterest and Wanelo leading the way. Twitter debuted its “buy” button back in September 2014 but, in a recent announcement, CEO Jack Dorsey says they are killing the initiative.

Twitter ‘Buy’ Button: Product Development Curtailed

The Twitter “buy” button allowed businesses to create an ad featuring a product with a prominent button that, when clicked, would bring the consumer directly to a page where they could learn more about a product and buy it. All actions were conducted right in Twitter, so the consumer never had to leave.

Sources report that although similar “buy” buttons spread quickly across social media channels, they haven’t been taking off as predicted, with many customers still buying via mobile web. Since the “buy” button wasn’t performing as expected, Twitter decided to reallocate resources to other commerce features that are delivering.

As such, the product development team that worked on the “buy” button has been disbanded; some have left the company and some have been transferred to other departments. Twitter says they will not eliminate the “buy” button right now—it will still be available for businesses that want to use it, but the button will no longer get updates or new features.

The Move to Dynamic Product Ads

In the process of reallocating resources, Twitter execs say they will turn their focus to dynamic product ads. These ads are designed to capture information about a consumer’s prior web-browsing behavior. By knowing that a person visited a specific product on your website but left without making a purchase, Twitter’s dynamic product ads can retarget that consumer. The resulting ad displays engaging, personalized content and directs the consumer back to that specific product page.

An April 26, 2016, letter to Twitter Shareholders communicated that dynamic product ads are working well on the site. Twitter says that dynamic product ads (on average) get double the click-through rates and conversions when compared to regularly promoted tweets.

Directions for E-commerce Owners

Will Twitter’s move away from the “buy” button trigger a domino effect where other social media sites likewise nix their direct commerce efforts? Not necessarily. Experts say that although expansion and adoption of social “buy” buttons is moving slowly, they will be around for a while as most sites are still testing the waters. You can even continue to use the Twitter “buy” button, although as we mentioned, there will be no further development.

That said, now might also be the time to embrace new advertising methods that show proven results. Any e-commerce advertiser would love to see twice the click-throughs and conversions (AKA sales) on their ads. Twitter’s dismissal of the “buy” button is the perfect time to explore new options like dynamic product ads, which are available on both Twitter and Facebook. Marketing methods move quickly in the digital realm and, as is typically the case, the early adopter gets the sale.

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