Startup Aims to Change the Product-Referral Narrative for Digital Content Publishers

Narrativ investors include Talis Capital and New Enterprise Associates

Shirley Chen, founder and CEO of Narrativ, wants to upend the model of embedded product-links in articles.

Per a write-up by TechCrunch’s Anthony Ha, her company has raised $3 million and is designed to allow retailers to bid, in real time, for clicks emanating from a particular piece of content. She has dubbed her central product SmartLinks:

Although Narrativ is officially coming out of stealth this week, Chen said the product has already been in testing with publishers like New York magazine, which has seen the value of its content clicks increase by 250 percent, and with retailers like Dermstore, which saw its return on investment increase by 67 percent year-over-year.

Dermstore vice president of marketing Richie Singh said that before Narrativ, the company wasn’t thinking about promoting itself through editorial content: “The technology just wasn’t there. Our competitors were winning 92% of traffic from editorial links until Narrativ.”

“For the first time, we control when a product featured in content drives traffic to Dermstore.”

Chen worked previously for Moda Operandi, an online luxury fashion retailer backed by Advance Publications, Inc. and LVMH.