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Bluecore Puts Machine Learning to Work in the Name of Personalization

Historically, Bluecore has focused its advertising products on two channels: clients’ e-commerce sites and email.

With its latest product, however, the retail marketing technology company is expanding to more than 20 major digital ad channels, including Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. Bluecore Advertise, launching widely this month, sets out to create individualized advertising informed by first-party data and machine learning.

As shoppers spend more time online, advertising channels have become increasingly important, not just for shopper acquisition, but also for retention and discovery, Bluecore senior vice president of product marketing and business operations Sherene Hilal told Sourcing Journal.  Seeing this, the firm turned its lens to digital ad channels and looked into how it could utilize shopper and product data. Pushed along by a “dizzying” acceleration in these trends due to the pandemic, Bluecore Advertise—the first of three product lines that will operate outside of retailers’ owned and e-commerce shopping channels—launched 18 months later, she said.

Bluecore Advertise personalizes digital ads using first-party data and machine learning
Bluecore Advertise works with retailers’ first-party shopper data on more than 20 digital ad channels, including Instagram. Bluecore

“I think a lot of studies now have come out around the pandemic as a tipping point for new shopper habits and different ways that brands now have to focus on connecting people to products,” Hilal continued. “That means moving from things like using advertising for mass marketing where you’re just blasting up 80 percent site-wide sale or trying to drive them to this big doorbuster, into very personalized recommendations that were built for every individual.”

Though Bluecore Advertise resembles the company’s email and e-commerce offerings in approach—namely, using first-party data to personalize communications—Hilal said they serve different purposes. “I would say, overall, email is a workhorse channel,” she explained. “It’s very good at driving repeat purchases and loyalty, and advertising is a really good acquisition channel, so getting new shoppers in the door and driving that very first purchase.”

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Additionally, unlike other digital marketing platforms that may focus only on shopper data, the service considers the product catalog. So rather than simply suggest items shoppers may have already looked at, Hilal said, machine learning predicts other products they might want. “Even if you’ve never bought with that brand before, we can predict what you’re most likely going to be interested in,” she added.

Bluecore Advertise personalizes digital ads using first-party data and machine learning
Bluecore Advertise personalizes ad campaigns. Bluecore

Due to the personalized nature of this technique, every ad becomes unique. If a brand wants to target 5 million shoppers, 5 million versions of that ad, all based on real-time data and past behaviors, will go out. “It’s a much more engaging experience, it drives a lot more traffic to that website, and helps people actually make decisions about what they want to buy, instead of just seeing the same message everyone else is getting,” Hilal said.

Bluecore launched Bluecore Communicate in 2019 so retailers could replace their traditional email service providers and bring together their batch emails and triggered emails to introduce fully personalized emails. Bluecore Site debuted last year and personalizes each step of the e-commerce shopping experience, from homepage to checkout.