The text in this article comes from the Introduction to Recommendations webinar, which you can view in its entirety below.
The Introduction to Recommendations webinar includes an in-depth exploration of how to leverage the value of Adobe Target Recommendations. Find out how this Target activity automatically displays products or content that might interest your customers by optimizing real-time suggestions based on previous visits. Further, dive into the Target UI for a step-by-step overview of how to build a Recommendations activity.
We all know about the kinds of recommendations we see in retail. Increasingly, customers expect these kind of recommendations and use them as a starting point to explore other available options. If you think about your own shopping behavior, these kind of recommendations work really well. Nearly everyone among us has bought a product we saw first in a recommendation somewhere, whether that was in a store or on a digital property.
The following illustration shows a recommendation that displays accessories that are commonly purchased with a new phone, including charging stations, cases, and headphones.
But what we don’t always think about is how digital-first brands are raising the bar of customer expectations. Increasingly, the way we consume media and content is driven by personalized recommendations. Think about the first thing you see when you open Netflix, Spotify, or YouTube. These brands start the customer experience with recommendations. In a world where more alternatives are available than ever, it’s critical that you can identify the most relevant content for your customer at the point of interaction.
Marketers use Adobe Target to drive personalized experiences across a wide variety of industries, customer types, and channels.
Adobe Target delivers personalized content everywhere.
Publishing: Web publishers use Target Recommendations to recommend articles to site visitors and drive increased engagement.
Video Tutorials: Adobe Creative Cloud uses Target to recommend video tutorials to Photoshop users in the Photoshop application.
Gaming: Gaming companies use Target to recommend games and content to users on their consoles.
These are just a few of the ways customers use Target to deliver personalized recommendations.
What makes for great recommendations?
Great recommendations should be relevant and personalized. This means you need three things to drive relevance and personalization:
Start with a strategy.
After you come up with your strategy, you are ready to start the implementation of Target Recommendations.
There are three broad steps involved in creating your recommendations implementation:
When you start with Recommendations, you pass information about every item you want to recommend. Target offers several integration options to create your catalog.
Sometimes, you might want to use multiple options together, for example, passing most data daily via a CSV file and passing inventory updates more frequently via an API.
Your IT department will usually be involved in helping set this step up.
Whichever method you choose, you should include metadata about each item in three categories:
Next, you should add tags or leverage you existing Analytics implementation to track the conversion events (such as views and purchases) that drive Target algorithms.
You need to ensure that Target is aware of the items that your users are viewing and purchasing. If purchasing isn’t relevant to your context, you might want to track a different type of conversion event, for example, downloading a PDF, completing a survey, subscribing to a newsletter, watching a video, and so forth.
If you are already using Target to run A/B Tests activities on your site, you might have already completed this step. Or if you are already using Adobe Analytics to report on site visits and conversion behavior, you can use Analytics as your behavioral datasource. If not, it’s easiest to set this up using a tag manager such as Adobe Launch. It’s also possible to send offline or in-app interactions to Target via real-time API.
Pass information about the user and context at the point of interaction to Target to return relevant and personalized recommendations.
Besides user behavior in aggregate, you need to pass Target the specific context where recommendations are being shown. This includes information about the page and information from the user profile. Target uses this information to make personalized recommendations. For example, on a retail website, you want to know the product and product category that the visitor is currently viewing. You also want to know information about that user (favorite brand, favorite product category, loyalty tier, and so forth). This information is important so that Target can filter items and improve the personalization of recommendations.
What is a Recommendations activity?
A Recommendations activity is made up of the following components:
Out of the box, Target includes 14 built-in audiences, 42 built-in criteria, and 10 built-in design templates. You can customize each of these items or add your own. We’ve had previous webinars about building audiences in Target. This section focuses on defining the criteria, which define which items will be recommended.
Target uses the concept of the criteria card. A criteria card is like a recipe for personalization.
It is important to choose or create the right criteria to achieve the personalization results you desire. A criteria is like a funnel that takes you from your entire catalog to your final set of recommendations.
The following sections describe the various parts of this funnel and how they work in Target:
Static filters are broadly applicable rules related to catalog attributes that you don’t expect to change frequently.
For example, in a content context, you might want to include all movies in recommendations, but exclude movies rated NC-17. In a retail context, you might have multiple brands in different parts of the world, but you want to recommend only products available in the United States. You might also want to exclude products from a regional private label.
These are all catalog attributes that are broadly applicable that you might want to use in multiple recommendations and you don’t expect them to change frequently.
The next step is to choose a recommendation key and logic. This is where you decide what is the basis for your recommendation.
The first thing you need to choose is the recommendation key. The recommendation key is what you are “looking up” to choose the recommendation. This is what you are basing your recommendation on.
You might base your recommendation on:
Based on these keys, you then choose the desired recommendation logic:
Out of the box, Target includes a portfolio of algorithms.
The last step is applying online business rules. This is where you empower your algorithms with domain knowledge and current context based on what the visitor is doing on your digital property.
For example, in the content context, you might want to exclude movies that the visitor has previously watched, recommend movies by the same director, or boost movies in the same genre. In the retail context, you might want to exclude out-of-stock products, show items in a price range of $5 to $500, or boost items from the same brand.
After you complete the tasks illustrated in the recommendation funnel describe above, you are left with your final recommendation. To watch an in-product demonstration inside Target, the demo begins at 21:00 in the Adobe Target Basics Webinar, linked to below.