Will digital ads be the queen of catwalks?

From fashion shows to online ads, shoppable videos are making their mark as retailers and designers look to offer a seamless shopping experience that enables consumers to click and buy direct from video.

Digital Fashion Week Singapore
Digital Fashion Week Singapore

As fast fashion continues to speed up, brands must be quick and immersive when interacting with consumers. House of Fraser, Boohoo.com, Topshop and Asos are some of the brands enticing distracted customers with online videos that enable them to click and buy products instantly.

“The process is convenient, fast and non-intrusive and we’re able to bring excitement to the purchase for our customers,” says House of Fraser affiliate manager Margaret Herrera. 

“By seeing the product in action – how a dress falls or how a jumper hangs, for example – we increase demand for the product, while hopefully reducing returns,” she adds. “This 360 degree view is valuable in giving our online customers a better insight into the actual products on offer.”

Research by advertising and classification firm WeSee finds that consumers like the concept. More than half (56 per cent) would consider purchasing directly from video, but more men are interested (20 per cent) than women (16 per cent). The study also reveals that consumers are keen to find new ways to shop, particularly as content and ecommerce become more connected.

House of Fraser ad
House of Fraser ad

 One reason why video content has rocketed in popularity is because it encourages engagement and interaction with brands, says Herrera, who has been working with digital platform Kiosked to create ‘shoppable’ video ads as part of House of Fraser’s affiliate programme (see Q&A). The experience is designed to be fluid so that when a viewer clicks an ad to see details of an item, the video continues. If they click to buy the item, the retailer’s website opens in a new page.

Video ads on the up

Uptake of video advertising in general is on a steep upward curve, increasing 86 per cent year-on-year to £135.2m,according to the latest IAB UK Digital Adspend report conducted by PwC.

Mobile is a vital part of the mix, particularly following the roll out of 4G networks, which contributed to a 1,260 per cent increase in mobile video advertising from £1.7m in the first half of 2012 to £23m in the first half of 2013.

Buying direct from the catwalk is one of the major features of Digital Fashion Week Singapore (DFW), a joint partnership between DFW Creative, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter. Consumers can watch live streams of the event and make instant purchases via Asos Marketplace.

After last year’s launch, DFW returns at the end of this week and will be collaborating with the British Council and the British High Commission in Singapore.

Sarah Meisch, director of arts at the British Council, says: “This fashion exchange between the UK and Singapore plays out not only culturally but also economically. It highlights the growing consciousness of the role that arts and culture play in a country’s economy via the creative industries. In the UK the fashion industry is a major contributor to the national economy.”

Fashion contributes to 1.7 per cent of the UK’s gross domestic product, says Meisch, and UK designers export up to two-thirds of their clothes and overseas sales of UK clothes and textiles are worth £6.4bn combined.

She adds: “It is very important for the UK to gain direct exposure to emerging markets and raise awareness of British fashion to a global audience through relationships of this kind.”

The same is true for overseas brands looking to enter the UK. Singapore designer Max Tan, who will be showing at DFW again, says it enables him to increase exposure to new markets.

“I’ve done traditional runways, but DFW is great for buyers who aren’t able to attend the show,” he says. It also enables Tan to convey the “mood of the collection” more accurately than using still images and the fact clothes can be bought immediately is also important.

“With the influence of fast fashion meaning [catwalk] trends can get into stores much faster than the original, selling in real-time is vital. Cutting down the waiting time or even making it available instantly, satisfies fickle consumers.”

In the UK, London Fashion Week (LFW) is also using more digital, with 29 shows broadcast live on the LFW YouTube channel with question and answer sessions on Twitter and Vine. WeSee’s study finds that 13 per cent of Londoners watched video content from the event either online or on mobile, which is double the national average. Meisch says: “Engaging with digital selling allows faster access to consumers and targets a younger audience. For this reason, the British Fashion Council is working with designers to help them showcase their collections digitally.”

The investment from long-term sponsors and new partners at LFW has also increased as brands look to leverage the event’s global profile and the additional access that digital technology provides.

In Singapore, DFW has sponsors including British Airways, Mini and Nokiawhile partner Topshop will be launching the Topshop Singapore Google+ page to provide exclusive content throughout the event, including a live stream of the party it is holding at its Knightsbridge store in London.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell has come on board as the face of DFW, helping to further entice consumers to click and buy the latest trends as she models them on the catwalk. Likewise, Topshop, Boohoo.com and Asos have collaborated with famous faces for their shoppable videos


Boohoo.com joined forces with singer Little Nikki for its autumn/winter TV ad campaign, which is shoppable online. Social media manager Roxanne Nejad says: “We embrace up and coming talent and the Boohoo/Little Nikki collaboration is a great fit. It worked well for our first venture in this area.” (See case study above.)

Asos has worked with singer Ellie Goulding, model Charlotte Free and US rapper Azealia Banks on its videos. Meanwhile, Topshop teamed up with Hollywood actress-turned-design consultant Kate Bosworth for its festival collection this summer, which was co-created by the star and is available via a clickable, shoppable and shareable video. Bosworth launched her follow-up collection for the brand last week.

In the US, retailer Target created three-part short film Falling For You starring actress Kristen Bell, which is available on its website. During the film, fashion, beauty and home items are highlighted to the right of the screen and when clicked a heart appears and adds the item to the viewer’s favourites without disrupting the film, ready for purchase at the end of the video.

Furniture brand BoConcept looked to bring its latest collection to life through the medium of dance, in a video that highlights key pieces that viewers can click and buy on its website. The opening scene tells consumers ‘Don’t just own your furniture, live with it’ and shows a couple dancing around a living room where products are marked with a plus symbol, which when clicked goes to the product page online.
BoConcept has also tried to replicate the ‘Sit less, dance more’ theme in-store.

Country manager Zoe Shields says: “The typical BoConcept customer is attracted to marketing that stands out from the norm. That message is translated into the store experience, so we have also brought dancing couples in-store [to bring the video concept to life].”
There is no question that online video will continue to soar in popularity, but with so many distractions online, marketers will be wise to make the experience targeted and enticing.

Case study


Online fashion brand Boohoo.com is trialling shoppable video for its autumn/winter TV ad, which when viewed online allows consumers to click and buy items instantly.

The ad stars music artist Little Nikki, who showcases the brand’s collection. Items are displayed on the right side of the video with the price and a ‘buy it now’ call to action.

“We are always looking for ways to offer more value to our customers, and we feel the shoppable element is an added value not many other brands are doing,” says social media manager Roxanne Nejad. “It’s taking the advertisement one step forward and making it interactive for the consumer. “Customer services receive many emails requesting details about specific items from our ads [so it makes sense to allow customers] to shop straight from them.

The shoppable element makes it easy for the consumer to get a particular look there and then rather than watching the ad and having to search the site for all the items they like.”
The launch of the ad coincided with the release of Little Nikki’s single Little Nikki Says. The music video for the song includes a link to Boohoo.com, where viewers are encouraged to “get Little Nikki’s look”.

The music video has been seen 680,000 times so far on YouTube, thus helping to broaden the retailer’s audience.
The Boohoo.com ad has been viewed 75,000 times on YouTube and if demand continues, the retailer will look to do something similar in the future, says Nejad.


Margaret Herrera
Affiliate manager

House of Fraser

Marketing Week (MW): What have you learnt since you started exploring shoppable video options?

Margaret Herrera (MH): House of Fraser has recently started using video as part of its marketing toolbox. However, we have already learnt that it’s a medium for forward-thinking publishers. With [our agency] Kiosked’s ‘smart content’ we’re doing something completely new with content. A lot of affiliates still prefer to use banners and feeds but video is for those who want to do something different. We believe that it will be used by more affiliates in the near future, as video is able to drive increased engagement and becomes a useful platform where sales can take place easily.

MW: How important is interactivity in your marketing as a whole?

MH: It is an integral part of our online marketing activity; we want to enable our customers to see a product, find it at House of Fraser and make a purchase in a seamless and straightforward journey. The solution we use brings customers directly to the product without leaving the video and offers alternative products. It’s imperative that retailers make the shopping journey easy but also fun; we want to encourage consumers that anything they see can be theirs as our video content becomes part of our online store.

MW: How do you tailor content to ensure it is optimised for mobile and tablet devices?

MH: We are seeing a huge number of sales from mobile and tablet devices so it is very important that our videos are functional on these devices. Mobile and tablet considerations are part of the brief from the start, so that we can deliver a superior experience for our customers regardless of which channel they use to shop.

The big three challenges

1. Innovation: Shoppable video is a relatively new concept. Anything that simplifies the purchase journey while keeping people entertained should be explored, particularly as consumers are switching off older forms of digital marketing, according to House of Fraser affiliate manager Margaret Herrera.

2. Know the audience: Younger consumers are used to watching online videos as part of their fashion purchase journey. Research by ad platform WeSee finds that 32 per cent of 18-24 year olds watch for tips from fashion stylists and 28 per cent view fashion-related shows, highlighting an opportunity for retailers to reach younger consumers.

3. Relevance: Content must be relevant for the target market. Sarah Meisch, director of arts at British Council, says: “Partnering with Digital Fashion Week Singapore presents designers in a way that’s relevant to our digital generation. Live streaming enables us to engage with new, creative ideas of showcasing and bring people together via an innovative platform.”