Deliver product recommendations using Google strategies

In this article...

We'll take an in-depth look at how you can use our Recommendations API to present your customers with one or more products or content pieces that may be of interest based on one of Google's recommendations strategies.

Making a request

Called via a POST request:

POST https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/<tracking_id>?strategy=<strategy_name>&n=<no_of_recs_to_return>&locale=<language-currency>&contextId=<contextId>

Prerequisites

Product catalog

To serve Google's recommendations, we need to see 100 products across your product catalog generated from QP events or a product feed.

QP events

We need to see:

  • 100 distinct product views (derived from ecProduct, where eventType=detail)
  • For the strategies google_product_conversion and google_personal_conversion, 10,000 ecBasketItemAction events, where action=add for 100 distinct products
  • For the strategy google_basket_revenue, ecBasketItemTransaction event for 100 distinct product Ids, product.productId
  • For the strategy google_product_similar, no events are required

INFO: Please reach out to your CSM if you have questions about the prerequisites for using any of Google's recommendations strategies.

Unique values

Before using the Recommendations API, you will require the following unique values:

Name

Description

<tracking_id>

Qubit tracking Id for the property the request is made from. This will be provided by Qubit's Customer Success team

<contextId>

Must match the context.id as defined by Jolt. See the following note

A quick note on context_id

Google's Recommendations AI strategies require a user Id (Qubit's contextId). This should match the context.id defined by Jolt, as shown in the following example id: '8lt0vannbw8-0jfc8hl8v-xj2r3pc':

context: {
  viewTs: 1522310723801,
  sessionViewNumber: 2,
  entranceViewNumber: 2,
  lifetimeValue: {
    value: 0
  },
  sample: '77542',
  timezoneOffset: -60,
  viewNumber: 2,
  sessionTs: 1522310705008,
  entranceTs: 1522310705008,
  conversionCycleNumber: 1,
  id: '8lt0vannbw8-0jfc8hl8v-xj2r3pc',
  sessionNumber: 1,
  entranceNumber: 1,
  conversionNumber: 0
  }

Understanding the endpoint

Sample request

curl -X POST \
      'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/demo_uk_prod?strategy=google_product_conversion&n=10&locale=en-gb-GBP&contextId=8lt0vannbw8-0jfc8hl8v-xj2r3pc&experienceId=203511' \
      -H 'content-type: application/json' \
      -d '{"h": ["all"]}'

Where:

  • demo_uk_prod is the Qubit tracking Id for the property the request is made from. Your CSM at Qubit will provide this
  • strategy is one of Google's Recommendations AI strategies and is mandatory. See Strategies for more information
  • locale is the locale you want to use. If not specified, defaults to the most common language/currency combination seen in your product catalog
  • contextId is the context.id defined by Jolt
  • experienceId is the Id of a recommendations experience containing promotion or blacklisting rules you want to pass into your request
  • h is an optional parameter to define the history or seed to generate recommendations for. Can accept an array of product Ids/SKUs. See The recommendation seed for details and examples

WARNING: Recommendations are typically generated using product Id. If you wish to use SKU instead, you will need to inform Qubit during the onboarding process.

INFO: Recommendations are generated using the products from across your entire product catalog and all provided locales. For example, if you are using the google_product_conversion strategy=google_product_conversion, we will generate a list of product Ids from all locales. We will then use the locale passed in your request to return specific product information (name, description, price, etc).

Sample response

The Recommendations API will always generate a response with HTTP status 200 for any responses it has control over.

TIP: Always check the status field to ensure that the response has been successful.

The response body will be a JSON object containing the following fields.

Name

Description

Required

status

HTTP status code of the response

Yes

result

In case of errors, this will be a string. In other cases it will be another JSON object containing the data requested

Yes

segment

Name of the server-side segment calculated for this visitor

No

annotations.segment

JSON object containing additional data that pertains to the segment

No

annotations.strategy

JSON object containing additional data that pertains to the strategy

No

Sample successful response

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/json;charset=utf-8
{
  items: [
      {
        id: '5637911031',
        weight: 0.07154133712308453,
        details: {
          category: 'Craft Essentials',
          unit_sale_price: 1.5,
          subcategory: 'Craft Paint',
          url: 'http://www.crafters.co.uk/deco-art-crafters-acrylic-white-2oz/563791-1031',
          sku_code: '5637911031',
          unit_price: 1.5,
          name: 'Deco art Crafters Acrylic White 2oz',
          currency: 'GBP',
          image_url: 'http://www.crafters.co.uk/supplyimages/563791_1031_1_170.jpg',
          stock: 3,
          id: '563791',
          description: 'Deco art Crafters Acrylic White 2oz'
        }
      }
    ]
}

Sample unsuccessful responses

Invalid strategy or tracking Id

If either the strategy or tracking Id is invalid, we will return a response with status code 200, but with 0 results:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: application/json;charset=utf-8
{
  items: []
}

Missing tracking Id

If you make an error passing in the tracking Id for your property, we will return a response with status code 404:

HTTP/1.1 404 OK
Content-Type: application/json;charset=utf-8
{
"status": 404,
"message": "Requested URL /vc/recommend/2.1/ not found"
}

Missing strategy

If you omit a strategy from your request, we will return a response with status code 400:

{
"status": 400,
"message": "Invalid value for parameter 'strategy': required <class 'str'>"
}

A summary of Google's strategies

The following table summarizes each of the Google strategies available to our customers. We've also included the name of the strategy as it displays in the Merchandising Hub.

Strategy Name

Description

Optimized for

Seed required

Name in Hub

google_product_conversion

This strategy encourages visitors to buy more products by surfacing other products of interest, 'Others you may like', based on the product currently being viewed and the visitor's own browsing and purchase history

Conversion Rate

Yes

Convert based on a product and your history

google_product_clickthrough

This strategy encourages visitors to engage with more of your products by surfacing other products of interest, 'Others you may like', based on the product currently being viewed and the visitor's own browsing and purchase history

Clickthrough Rate

Yes

Engage based on a product and your history

google_product_similar

This strategy shows similar products to the one a visitor is viewing

None

Yes

Similar products

google_personal_conversion

This strategy encourages visitors to buy more products by surfacing other products of interest, 'Recommended for you', based on the visitor's own browsing and purchase history

Conversion Rate

No

Convert based on your history

google_personal_clickthrough

This strategy encourages visitors to engage with more of your products by surfacing other products of interest, 'Recommended for you', based on the visitor's own browsing and purchase history

Clickthrough Rate

No

Engage based on your history

google_basket_revenue

This strategy encourages visitors to increase the value of the products in their basket by surfacing products 'Frequently bought together' with the products in the basket

Revenue Per Order

Yes

Increase your basket value

Example requests

In this section, we will look at how you can use Google's strategies to deliver recommendations.

Strategy google_product_conversion

Encourage visitors to convert by recommending products that may be of interest, based on the Id of the seeded product IA61R3 and the visitor's browsing and purchase history, obtained contextId:

  • strategy=google_product_conversion
  • 1A61R3
curl --request POST \
  --url 'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_trackingId?strategy=google_product_conversion&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk'
  --header 'content-type: application/json' \
  --data '{"h":["1A61R3"]}'

Strategy google_product_clickthrough

Encourage visitors to clickthrough by recommending products that may be of interest, based on the Id of the seeded product IA61R3 and the visitor's browsing and purchase history, obtained from contextId:

  • strategy=google_product_clickthrough
  • 1A61R3
curl --request POST \
  --url 'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_trackingId?strategy=google_product_clickthrough&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk'
  --header 'content-type: application/json' \
  --data '{"h":["1A61R3"]}'

Strategy google_product_similar

Show similar products to the one a visitor is viewing, based on the Id of the seeded product IA61R3.

  • strategy=google_product_similar
  • 1A61R3
curl --request POST \
  --url 'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_trackingId?strategy=google_product_similar&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk'
  --header 'content-type: application/json' \
  --data '{"h":["1A61R3"]}'

Strategy google_personal_conversion

Encourage visitors to convert by recommending products that may be of interest, based on the visitor's browsing and purchase history, obtained from contextId:

  • strategy=google_personal_conversion
curl --request POST \
  --url 'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_trackingId?strategy=google_personal_conversion&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk'

Strategy google_personal_clickthrough

Encourage visitors to clickthrough by recommending products that may be of interest, based on the visitor's browsing and purchase history, obtained from contextId):

  • strategy=google_personal_clickthrough
curl --request POST \
  --url 'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_trackingId?strategy=google_personal_clickthrough&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk'

Strategy google_basket_revenue

Encourage visitors to add more items to their basket by recommending products that may be of interest, based on the Id of the seeded product IA61R3 and the visitor's browsing and purchase history, obtained contextId:

  • strategy=google_basket_revenue
  • 1A61R3
curl --request POST \
  --url 'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_trackingId?strategy=google_basket_revenue&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk'
  --header 'content-type: application/json' \
  --data '{"h":["1A61R3"]}'

The recommendation seed

The seed parameter defines the products and product categories to generate recommendations for. If there is sufficient data about the provided seed, for example, products viewed or bought together with a product, we will return recommendations.

By adding or omitting a seed, you can use each strategy in the manner best suited to where you are adding the recommendations carousel.

TIP: Although there are places where a single product Id should be used as the seed, for example, on product detail pages, where possible, we recommend using an array of product Ids as the seed to guarantee a richer, aggregated set of recommendations. This is especially true for a homepage or a search page that hasn't returned results from a product search.

WARNING: The recommendation seed will always be a product Id—or, if specified during onboarding, an SKU.

Example seed

{
	"h": ["W000277351"]
}

Where:

  • h is an optional parameter to define the history or seed to generate recommendations for

A seed is considered contextual if the value is a product Id or an array of Ids:

{
  "h": ["W000277351","W000277352","W000277353"]
}

And generic if the value is all:

{
  "h": ["all"]
}

Contextual seed

A contextual seed is obtained by passing specific product Ids to generate recommendations.

On product detail pages, you might generate recommendation for the product being viewed by passing its product Id:

curl -X POST \
      'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_property?strategy=google_basket_revenue&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk \
      -H 'content-type: application/json' \
      -d '{"h": ["W000277351"]}'

On basket pages, you might generate recommendations for all of the products present in the shopper’s basket by passing an array of product Ids:

curl -X POST \
      'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_property?strategy=google_basket_revenue&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk \
      -H 'content-type: application/json' \
      -d '{"h": ["W000277351","W000277352","W000277353"]}'

TIP: By sending multiple product Ids, the endpoint will aggregate the results and return the top sorted recommendations.

Generic seed

On the other hand, a generic seed is obtained by seeding the recommendation with all.

For example, on a homepage, it may make more sense to recommend trending products from across your product inventory:

curl -X POST \
      'https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_property?strategy=google_basket_revenue&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk \
      -H 'content-type: application/json' \
      -d '{"h": ["all"]}'

Per-request filters

Qubit offers the possibility to refine recommendations through the application of rules. These can be defined globally for your property or for one or more experiences in the Recommendations page.

For certain use cases, for example, where you wish to heavily promote a product by applying a higher weight (factor) than can be defined when adding rules in the platform, it might be appropriate to use rules on a per-request basis.

We refer to these rules as per-request filters because they are restricted to the API request containing the filter and are then discarded.

Some important considerations

When calling the Recommendations API, per-request filters are added to any global rules defined in the platform and any experience-specific rules (if passed in your request). Observe the following points closely:

  • Per-request filters are restricted to the request containing them
  • Filters are added to global rules and any experience-specific rules (but only if you pass the experienceId in your request) but do not override them
  • The application of filters in requests containing multiple seeds is impractical. For this reason, filters are only applied to the first seed within the request

For information about adding global rules for blacklisting and promoting products in the Qubit platform, see Available Rules.

Let's look at a simple per-request filter that includes blacklist and promotion elements. We have not passed an experienceId in the request, so the rules will only be added to globally-defined rules:

curl -X POST \
  'http://localhost:6662/vc/recommend/2.1/example_property?strategy=google_basket_revenue&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk \
  -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
  -d '{
   "h":["all"],
   "rules":[
      {
         "name":"Blacklist low price",
         "condition":{ "<=":[ 0, { "var":"rec.unit_price" }, 30 ] },
         "factor":0
      },
      {
         "name":"Promote Shirts-Tops",
         "condition":{ "in":[ "Shirts-Tops", { "var":"rec.categories" } ] },
         "factor":200
      }
   ]
  }'

Where:

  • name is the filter name, used for information purposes only
  • condition is the logic used to filter products - written in JsonLogic
  • factor determines whether the filtered products are blacklisted "factor":0, or promoted e.g. "factor":1, "factor":2, etc if condition evaluates as true

Looking at the previous example, the first rule blacklists products with a unit price less than or equal to 30. The second rule promotes products in the Shirts-Tops product category by a factor of 200. It is worth remembering that a promotion rule added in the platform will apply a factor of 2.

To assist you in building filters, the JsonLogic site includes a playground for testing condition logic. To use the site, copy the entire condition value into Rule field:

{
    "seed": <seed product details>,
    "rec": <recommended product details>
}

For a list of supported operations, see Operations.


A quick look at weights and factors

Please take note of the following points:

  • Weight determines the position in the recommendations carousel. The higher the weight, the higher the position
  • Where applied, factors impact the weight applied to a product from a particular strategy weight x factor:
    • factor=0 (blacklisting) -> last position in carousel and filtered from it
    • factor=1 -> no effect
    • factor=>1 (promotion) -> higher position in the carousel

Using regex

You can also use regex to define filters using the match operator. If you want to use multiple regexes, then use match_some instead of match:

Example - match:

{
    "name": "Blacklist product ids starting with RX_",
    "factor": 0,
    "condition": {
        "match": [{"var": "rec.id"}, "^RX_.*$"]
    }
}

Example - match_some:

{
    "name": "Blacklist product ids containing test or starting with RX_",
    "factor": 0,
    "condition": {
        "match_some": [{"var": "rec.id"}, ["^RX_.*$", ".*test.*"]]
    }
}

Examples

Refer to the following examples that show how you can use per-filters.

Promotion

Promote products by a factor of 2 belonging to a specific brand in the product categories shoes and pants:

{
  "name":   "Brand promotion",
  "condition": { "and": [
  {"or": [
    { "in": [ "Shoes": { "var": "rec.categories" }]},
    {"in": ["pants": { "var": "rec.categories" }]}
  ]},
  { "==": [ { "var": "rec.brand" }, "adidas" ] }
  ]},
  "factor": 2
}

Same field filter

Only recommend products that are the same size as the returned seed product:

{
  "name":   "same size recommendations",
  "condition": { "!=": [ { "var": "seed.size" }, { "var": "rec.size" } ] },
  "factor": 0
}

Different field filter

Don't recommend products that are the same size as the returned seed product:

{
  "name":   "different size recommendations",
  "condition": { "==": [ { "var": "seed.size" }, { "var": "rec.size" } ] },
  "factor": 0
}

Low Stock

Don't recommend products with less than ten items in stock:

{
  "name":   "low stock products filter ",
  "condition": { "<": [ { "var": "rec.stock" }, 10 ] },
  "factor": 0
}

Price range filter

Don't recommend products with a price between 11 and 99 USD:

{
  "name":   "filter products with 10 < price < 100 USD",
  "condition": {"and": [
    { "<": [ 10, { "var": "rec.price" }, 100 ] },
    { "==": [ { "var": "rec.currency" }, "USD" ] }
  ]},
  "factor": 0
}

High price filter

Don't recommend products that have a price higher than the returned product seed:

{
  "name":   "higher price recommendations",
  "condition": { ">": [ { "var": "rec.price" }, { "var": "seed.price" } ] },
  "factor": 0
}

Cross sale (Blacklisting style)

Only recommend products from the category blow dryers when viewing combs:

{
  "name":   "only sell blow dryer with a comb",
  "condition": { "and": [
    { "in": [ "combs", { "var": "rec.categories" }]}
    { "!": {"in": [ "blow dryer", { "var": "seed.categories" }]}}
  ]},
  "factor": 0
}

Cross sale (Promotion style)

Recommend blow dryers when viewing combs by a factor of 2:

{
  "name":   "promote blow dryers when viewing combs",
  "condition": {"and": [
    {"in": ["combs", { "var": "rec.categories" }]}
    {"in": ["blow dryer", { "var": "seed.categories"}]}    
  ]},
  "factor": 2
}

Real-life example

In this real-life example, we demonstrate the possibilities when using per-request filters to customize the recommendation seed fully:

{
  "rules": [
    {
      "name": "low stock config",
      "condition": { "<": [ { "var": "rec.stock" }, 10 ] },
      "factor": 0
    },
    {
      "name": "low price config",
      "condition": { "and": [
        { "<": [ { "var": "rec.price" }, 30 ] },
        { "==": [ { "var": "rec.currency" }, "GBP" ] }
      ]},
      "factor": 0
    },
    {
      "name": "blacklist config",
      "condition": { "or": [
        { "in": [ "Adult", { "var": "rec.categories" }] },
        {"match_some": [{"var":"rec.description"},["^Sample*", "*Tester.$"]]},
        { "==": [ { "var": "rec.is_clearance" }, true ] },
        { "in": [
          { "var": "rec.sku_id" },
          [ "23757604", "23757639", ... ]
        ]}
      ]},
      "factor": 0
    },
    {
      "name": "promote products",
      "condition": { "==": [ { "var": "rec.id" }, "24004952" ] },
      "factor": 2
    }
  ]
}

Debugging rules

You can output the rules object in the response by appending a query parameter debug=True to the API request. You can view this object to determine which rules, if any, are being used to filter a recommendation:

https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/example_trackingId?strategy=google_basket_revenue&locale=en-us&contextId=4rw8m5o5oc8-0k7aan7c0-ap149zk&debug=True

In the following example, we see that a recommendation was filtered using a rule called Blacklist - out of stock:

debug-rule

Calling the API in an experience

Basic

You can retrieve recommendations by passing through the Experience API (options). Recommendations will be returned based on the defaults listed in the Configuration section below.

const recommendations = require('@qubit/recommendations')(options)

recommendations.get().then((recs) => {
  console.log(recs)
})

Standard

If you are making only one type of recommendation request, where the strategy and number of products you wish to use will be the same, you can define this upfront by providing your own configuration.

You can override any key shown in Configuration section below.

const productId = options.state.get('productId')

const recommendations = require('@qubit/recommendations')(options, {
  strategy: 'google_basket_revenue',
  limit: 20,
  seed: productId
})

recommendations.get().then((recs) => {
  console.log(recs)
})

Advanced

Sometimes, we're required to implement more a customized recommendations call. To do this, we specify our configuration at the time of making the request. This approach is useful if you need to make more than one request on a pageview.

Configuration passed to get overrides any configuration you pass when initializing the module, such as in the Standard example above.

Any keys you leave out will fallback to the configuration passed when initialized or to the defaults described in Configuration if no initial configuration was used.

const recommendations = require('@qubit/recommendations')(options)

recommendations.get({
  strategy: 'google_basket_revenue',
  limit: 30,
  seed: [{ category: 'jeans' }, 'W000277351', { category: 'blazers' }],
  rules: [{
    condition: {
      '!==': [{
        var: 'rec.custom_field'
      }, {
        var: 'seed.custom_field'
      }]
    },
    factor: 0
  }]
}).then((recs) => {
  console.log(recs)
})

Example

We will return id, weight, and strategy for every recommendation, so if you're looping through the API response to render recommendations, this data will be immediately available to make the call.

Here's an example of how you might choose to emit shown and clicked events:

const recommendations = require('@qubit/recommendations')(options)

recommendations.get().then((recs) => {
  const $recs = recs.map((product, i) => {
    const { details } = product

    recommendations.shown(product)

    return $(`
      <div class="t001-rec">
        <a href="${details.url}">
          <img class="t001-img" src="${details.image_url}" />
          <div class="t001-name">${details.name}</div>
          <div class="t001-price">${details.unit_sale_price}</div>
        </a>
      </div>
    `).click(() => {
      recommendations.clicked(_.assign({ position: i + 1 }, product))
    })
  })

  $(`.product-details`).append($recs)
}).catch(err => {
  console.log(err)
})

INFO: If you include this package in a Qubit experience, the get call should take place in triggers.js, so you can verify a response before activating.

Configuration

You can override as little or as much of the configuration shown in the examples above.

strategy

  • type - String
  • default - none
  • options - google_product_conversion, google_product_clickthrough, google_product_similar, google_personal_conversion, google_personal_clickthrough, google_basket_revenue

locale

  • type - String
  • default - most common language/currency combination seen in your product catalog

limit

  • type - Number
  • default - 10

A number specifying the number of recommendations you wish to return.

If no recommendations are generated from the seed, the promise will be rejected. See timeout for details of how to handle errors.

seed

  • type - String or array
  • default - all

As mentioned above, you can seed recommendations with product Ids/SKUs.

Product Ids/SKUs can be passed as a string. Place in an array to combine:

[{"W000277351","W000277352","W000277353"}]

rules

  • type - Array
  • default - none

See Per-request filters for details.

timeout

  • type - Number
  • default - 0

The default of 0 milliseconds means no timeout will occur. Should you wish to cancel the loading of recommendations after a set period, pass the timeout key and attach a catch block to perform an alternate operation:

const recommendations = require('@qubit/recommendations')(options, {
  timeout: 3000, // 3 sec
})

recommendations.get().then((recs) => {
  console.log(recs)
}).catch((e) => {
  // perform alternate action
})

trackingId

  • type - String
  • default - options.meta.trackingId

Should you wish to request recommendations for a different property, perhaps to build on a staging environment, but would like to request production recommendations, this can be set here.

visitorId

  • type - String
  • default - options.meta.visitorId

This package assumes usage within a Qubit experience. If using elsewhere, you can specify how the Qubit Visitor Id should be found, typically via the _qubitTracker cookie.

url

  • type - String
  • default - https://recs.qubit.com/vc/recommend/2.1/

The Recommendations API endpoint.

Events

Metrics and reporting in the Experimentation Hub

To enable the metrics and reporting features for a the Experimentation Hub Recommendations experience, implement the following events:

  • When a recommendation is shown/rendered onto the page:
recommendations.shown({
  id: 'ABC123',
  weight: '0.9',
  strategy: 'pop'
})
  • When a recommendation is clicked:
recommendations.clicked({
  id: 'ABC123',
  weight: '0.9',
  strategy: 'pop',
  position: 1
})

Merchandising Hub

Refer to Product recommendations for details of which events need to be emitted to deliver product recommendations and Google's product recommendations for details of events specifically for Google's product recommendations.

We recommend also referring to our Events page to determine which events to emit.

Last updated: April 2022
Did you find this article useful?