Contextly Review

Contextly is a content recommendation system used by online publishers to suggest relevant articles and links that may be of interest to readers. The company’s goal is to keep users on the same site and increase reader loyalty by making them aware of content from the same publisher.

This is a somewhat different objective from similar firms. Contextly's current list of clients includes PBS, Animal Politico, and AFV.


The Company

Ryan Singel and Ben Autrey co-founded Contextly in 2010. Singel has previous experience working with startups, and he spent close to a decade writing for, covering such topics as social networking, startups, and security. Autrey has an academic background in statistics and economics, as well as professional experience in recommendation and inference systems.

Contextly remains relatively small, but its two co-founders appear to have the knowledge and tools to grow the kind of company they envision.

The company wants to go beyond providing related links that are based on algorithms or formulas based on what is popular or what the user has read previously. Instead, Contextly aims to give readers links to stories that are relevant to what they just read or saw, providing either context or additional information about the subject matter. The belief is that this strategy will help to engage readers and increase their loyalty to a particular site, which will in turn, increase the traffic on that site.


The Product

The Contextly website lists five components to the products and services the company provides:

  • Recommendations
  • Display
  • Analytics
  • FollowUp
  • Social

Contextly offers two ways of making recommendations. The first is to automatically recommend content based on relevant material, while the second is to allow clients to use recommendation modules to select the pages to highlight. Publishers can choose to highlight articles that may have been missed by the reader, articles that are popular, or suggested articles based on cookies. Contextly is also able to recommend both videos and products.

In terms of display, there are three primary options:

  • Main Modules, which come at the end of posts
  • Siderails, which are next to posts
  • In-Story Sidebars, which are placed in the midst of a story.

Clients may set up to receive either daily, weekly, or monthly analytics reports from Contextly. These reports provide all of the necessary statistics for publishers on the success of their posts and how Contextly has been able to help them.

The company also provides a FollowUp button that make it easy for readers to keep up with a story that spans several posts. Users can click a button and immediately receive a timeline of related stories. They will also receive a notification whenever a relevant article is published on that same topic.

Contextly also monitors Twitter for strong reactions to a particular story and then puts those social media responses on that particular site. This allows readers to see relevant reactions to stories, which enhances promotes reader engagement.

The Opportunity

Contextly lays out its pricing plans and services on its website in a simple way. Prices range from $9 to $99 per month based on the number of monthly page views a site receives. It begins with those sites that receive fewer than 50,000 views per month and reaches all the way to those that receive up to 500,000 views per month. Firms with an annual subscription to Contextly will receive a 10% discount. The company also offers prospective clients a 21-day free trial of the Unlimited Version of Contextly.

The Verdict

Contextly is definitely different from other content discovery platforms, and in a lot of ways it’s for the better. The company may not have as big of a profile or reputation as some of its competitors, but it certainly has the means to help a wide variety of publishers, most notably smaller publishers that may not have a chance to work with one of the larger companies in the content discovery industry.

What stands out the most about Contextly is the company’s emphasis on keeping readers on the same site. For smaller sites that want to build a loyal readership and keep users on their site longer, Contextly may be the best option to help make that happen. The customer support and informational reports that the company provides for its customers, along with a number of useful tools and unique methods for recommending content, make Contextly a great company for any publisher who wants to grow their readership.

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