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Digital advertising as service: introducing contextually embedded selling

Anna-Greta Nyström (Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)
Karl-Jacob Mickelsson (Department of Marketing, Hanken Svenska Handelshogskolan, Helsinki, Finland)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 12 June 2019

Issue publication date: 18 September 2019




Previous research on advertising in digital contexts has emphasized its persuasive and information processing roles for the customer. This paper aims to problematize this point of view and argues that the converged and interactive nature of digital media makes all advertising content into potential points of engagement in a digital media journey.


The paper is conceptual in nature and applies service logic (SL) and customer engagement to reconceptualize digital advertising and selling.


The authors present digital advertisements and digital media content as elements that contribute to a digital media journey, which ideally leads to a purchase. Advertising content is regarded as a resource used by consumers in their underlying value-creating processes. Thus, the digital advertising process is conceptualized as a customer-driven process of engaging with digital media content, where a purchase is incorporated in (and naturally follows from) the theme of engagement.

Research limitations/implications

The paper introduces the concept of contextually embedded selling, which refers to a process where digital advertising content is thematically congruent with the surrounding editorial content, so that both contribute to the same consumer journey. Otherwise, consumers experience a contextual jump – a disconnect in theme, place or time during the consumer’s process of engagement with the digital content.


The paper contributes to advertising theory on advertising, engagement and the emerging research on consumer journey design by presenting an approach based on SL, namely, contextually embedded digital selling.



This work was supported in part by Business Finland under the project “Wireless for Verticals (WIVE).” WIVE is a part of 5G Test Network Finland (5GTNF). The research was also partly funded by the Finnish Foundation for Economic Education.


Nyström, A.-G. and Mickelsson, K.-J. (2019), "Digital advertising as service: introducing contextually embedded selling", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 396-406.



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