Narrativ's Twist On Search, Data For Publishers Bring Amazon Competition

Shirley Chen, CEO of Narrativ, wants to extend the reach of search data to publisher websites. She believes publishers are a natural extension of search, since about 70% of traffic to their sites comes from consumers searching for information in organic search results.

Narrativ, which launched in August 2015, works to turn static links into dynamic clicks.

Chen calls them "smartlinks," based on a pay-per-click acquisition model. Smartlinks are like website tag containers that hold dynamic prices, in- or out-of-stock status, and data that helps retailers compete on sales.

In the past year the company has "delivered about $56 million in revenue," she said.

New York magazine, for example, which works with Narrativ, runs an ecommerce recommendation site called The Strategist.  Each page offers lists of products in the form of a paragraph describing the products.



At the end of each paragraph there's a buy button, which takes the consumer from the publisher's page to a retail site that sells the product. There may be more than one retailer, but the button will direct the consumer to the one with the product in stock.

Unlike some paid search ads, it's Narrativ's job to make sure those links never take consumers to out-of-stock pages on retail sites.

Publishers including New York,  CNET, and Best Products send more than three times the traffic of paid search to the top 100 retail sites. Today, Amazon owns a monopoly --  about 65% -- of all product links on commerce content publisher sites. This lack of diversity in the ecommerce revenue stream is a risky business model for publishers when Amazon can change their rev share at any time, according to Chen. She wants to change that dynamic.

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