Amanda Connolly is a reporter for The Next Web, currently based in London. Originally from Ireland, Amanda previously worked in press and ed Amanda Connolly is a reporter for The Next Web, currently based in London. Originally from Ireland, Amanda previously worked in press and editorial at the Web Summit. She’s interested in all things tech, with a particular fondness for lifestyle and creative tech and the spaces where these intersect. Twitter
The days of infomercials commanding the home shopping market are no more. We spend a good chunk of our day looking at our phones, tablets and laptops for entertainment, work and of course, shopping.
That’s why companies like Instagram and Pinterest are starting to introduce shoppable content. They know what’s up.
However, they may have some competition from new video shopping platform MikMak.
MikMak is specifically designed for the ‘iPhone generation’ and by taking notes from the success of informercials, as well as the meteoric rise of YouTube stars, the app looks like it’s right on track to set a new advertising standard.
Using Instagram or Vine style video posts, MikMak releases 30 second ‘minimercials’ every night at 9 PM EST. The videos showcase a range of products from desk accessories to gadgets and beauty products, and everything is under $100.
Don’t be too hasty to judge though, these videos are funny – not canned laughter funny – actually funny. They’re hosted by entertainers and comedians and make shopping or browsing feel more like a binge on YouTube or Vine. And this was intentional.
The iOS app, which officially launched this week after a long running public beta, is the brainchild of Rachel Tipograph, former Global Director of Digital and Social Media at Gap. Tipograph was also named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 in the Marketing and Advertising category last year.
While working at Gap, she was responsible for an advertising first when the company purchased all mobile ads on Tumblr for 24-hours as part of its “Back to Blue” campaign. Tipograph credits this work experience and others like it for giving her the determination to create MikMak:
I saw the positive impact video could have on driving conversion and brand health on the internet, yet no one had a solution for creating professional video at scale designed for the social web that’s meant to convert into sales, so I decided to personally build it.
After she left Gap in 2014, she embarked on a 100 day sabbatical traveling around the world, documenting her journey with daily insights of stories and lessons learned along the way. I think it’s fair to say that this experience helped to form the openness that MikMak exudes as a company today.
Tipograph told us:
Traveling around the world showed me how mobile phones are our lifeline. Of my four months traveling, I spent one month in Africa where desktop web experiences have never entered many people’s lives there yet mobile payments are their main currency.
With a clear eye for content, Tipograph set out reinventing the infomercial with MikMak after returning from her travels just nine months ago. She told us:
MikMak is an entertainment company that happens to sell things. I started this company with a long list of things I hope we become accredited with reinventing. Infomercials are just one item on the list, and it’s a $250B market, so we’ll gladly accept the credit!
Describing a shopping platform as an entertainment company would seem misleading in almost any other situation, but for MikMak, it’s accurate.
Tipograph told us the content consumption patterns of MikMak users are the same as those of Instagram and a lot of other social media sites. Our increased appetite for bite-sized visual content is what is shaping the way marketers target shoppers.
You go to Instagram often with many different mindsets, I’d say more often than not to be inspired. In retail and marketing we call “inspiration” the top of the purchase funnel, but several other triggers often need to happen to get someone to buy.
MikMak ran tests while it was in beta of the different types of videos people respond to in order to find that sweet spot between informative and entertaining. The videos give enough detail on the product with a side of entertainment, so you don’t feel like you’re being shoved in either direction, or at least I didn’t when I was trying it out. Some of the videos I enjoyed the most were for products I have no intention of ever buying.All of the videos remind me of YouTube tutorials, something I have lost many hours of my life to. They are professional enough that you see clear product shots and detail, but they are still lo-fi enough to fit in on social media and not look like they’ve been hyper produced.
Tipograph says this is down to her team of millennial creatives who “represent the unapologetic and imperfect life we all live while being completely product and design obsessed.”
And it’s the teams subsequent minimercials that are modernizing the infomercial market as we know it. For a company that was only a thought this time 10 months ago, that’s pretty good groundwork.
…now we redesigned for everyone who grew up with the iPhone as their primary entertainment device. From our software to actual video creative, everything I’ve been studying and measuring the last six years of my career goes into the MikMak sauce.
Read next: Flume brings your Instagram feed to your New Tab page
Get the TNW newsletter
Get the most important tech news in your inbox each week.