This week, we’re diving into innovations in eCommerce, looking at it from various angles. Today, we’re discussing using contextual recommendations for eCommerce.

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Last week, I spoke with Brian Marvin, Co-Founder and COO of Bringhub, about how native advertising is blazing a new path in authentic advertising experiences for eCommerce. Surprisingly, this new path benefits publishers, advertisers, and users alike.

So, what is it? Contextual commerce. In simplest terms, contextual commerce means including an ad section (within or below an article) of products that are either directly talked about in the body, or are highly related to the content. For example, an article about hiking might show a vest from Patagonia or boots from REI; a piece about Kate Spade’s new line could include listings from Kate Spade’s website or one of their retailers.

Credit: Bringhub

This strategy makes it possible for readers to purchase products they see within editorial content. This ability is not limited to just the copy; contextual commerce also learns from the images used in the article. Say there’s an article about George Clooney’s career – and this includes a photoshoot of him in various designer duds. Although the individual clothing items he’s wearing in this photoshoot might not be specifically identified or linked to, platforms like Bringhub use image recognition systems to find the items in question, or at least ones that are similar.

Credit: GQ

A system like this relies on partnerships with both premium publishers and numerous retailers. Luckily, it’s beneficial to both parties – retailers get placed in highly relevant spaces and see conversions, and publishers get paid for ad space. Additionally, because contextual commerce is a more authentic ad experience, it’s beneficial to users as well. It provides users with the things they’re interested in at the moment of their interest. Unlike other ad placements that can follow a user around the internet, these placements don’t instill a sense of being cyber-stalked. They won’t cookie a user and constantly show up as the user browses; they’re tied only to relevant editorials.

As natural language and image recognition continue to evolve, systems like these will grow smarter and smarter. As with other ad types/platforms, contextual commerce also uses optimization systems and conversion pixels to figure out the most successful placements. The experience of the checkout process will continue to change as well – currently many contextual commerce placements direct users to a retailer’s website, but completing a purchase without ever leaving the original article is also in development.

To learn more about contextual commerce or get started on a platform, please contact our team!

Check out all of our e-commerce week posts by clicking here.

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Thank you to Brian Marvin, Co-Founder and COO of Bringhub, for contributing to this article.  Bringhub is the leading in-content commerce platform that empowers digital publishers to engage audiences with automated E-Commerce capabilities. Brian Marvin comes to Bringhub with a diverse background in publishing and marketing. Prior to co-founding Bringhub, Marvin helped launch BON, a full-service marketing agency specializing in branded content and digital experience activations. He built a global network of artists, designers, musicians and influencers to deliver specialized insight to clients including Toyota, Microsoft, Casio, Coca-Cola, ASICS and Burton Snowboards. Before BON, Marvin co-founded Frank151, a quarterly magazine celebrating unique, provocative lifestyle themes.

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Molly Shotwell
Molly joined 3Q in February 2017. She graduated cum laude from Boston College with a BA in English and a minor in Economics. Having lived and worked in Washington, DC, and Boston, she decided to set her next adventure in Austin with 3Q. When not working in digital marketing, she enjoys filmmaking, sweating through yoga, baking new treats, traveling the world, and spoiling her pets.