Eyelevel.ai launches contextual ad platform for chatbots

A San Francisco-based startup is out today with a native conversational marketing platform that it says offers a unique delivery of contextual conversational ads.

Eyelevel.ai’s platform is compatible with Facebook Messenger, other messaging apps like Line and Telegram, SMS, mobile web and Android/iOS apps. In a typical use case, the user is interacting with a publisher’s chatbot, while Eyelevel keeps an eye out for key phrases in a given context.

Like recommendations from the conversational app. If, for instance, a conversation with an Expedia chatbot turned to the need to get a pocket-sized umbrella for a trip to London, Eyelevel can bring up a slide carousel of umbrellas for sale online.

The media options depend on the messaging app, said co-founder Ryan Begley in an interview, and range from still images to gif animations or video clips. A click on one of those takes the user to a purchase screen, generally within the ongoing conversation, so returning to the conversation is a matter of continuing to chat and scroll.

The company said this kind of contextual advertising, which employs advanced Natural Language Processing with proprietary data modeling machine learning and scoring, “feels like recommendations from the conversational application itself.”

If someone asks a chatbot about the weather next week,” Eyelevel.ai President Mike Werner said in a statement, “it’s okay to promote an umbrella if it’s going to rain. People like that sort of recommendation because it adds value and feels very natural.”

Network of publishers. “We realized that to work, promotional content must be delivered in context, or else the users would hate it,” said Tiv.ai CTO Assaf Elovic, an Eyelevel.ai client company that publishes a Personal Productivity Chatbot.

He added that he can’t “emphasize enough the challenges associated with delivering context-based advertisements and why it’s not something that a company like ours can do well.” Eyelevel says it has over 45 advertisers signed up, representing a publisher network of more than 1700 chat apps.

Co-founder Ryan Begley, one of several Eyelevel.ai co-founders who are veterans of IBM’s Watson supercomputing project, said in an interview that his company’s differentiators include a complete focus on contextual advertising within a conversation, with access to a large network of chatbot publishers and premium advertisers, like Expedia, Moet, and Louis Vuitton. Currently, the ads are all direct sales, he said.

Why you should care. With more than 300,000 active chatbots on Messenger alone, publishers need to add real value to users if the conversational interaction is expected to be more than a novelty.

As any good salesperson can attest, making a sale depends in large part on bringing up the offer at the right time in the conversation, when it doesn’t feel pushed in the would-be customer’s face but actually answers a need.

While some chatbots do include media or links to products or services for sale, Eyelevel offers a platform geared to contextual offers. Making the sale inside a chatbot conversation, and not losing the user in the process, is largely a function of the value that the offer provides at that moment.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today. For more on marketing technology, click here.

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