The hire comes as the home design and décor publisher announces it will launch its own integrated commerce unit in 2014.
Huff says he’s bringing a three-pronged approach to the launch, emphasizing subtle shopping options, networks of service professionals and native advertising. Overall, the success of the project depends on context and the seamless integration of commerce and content—something media companies have been too conspicuous with in their early e-commerce attempts, he says.
"You can see where consumers engage, where they really become inspired and it becomes a question of what we’re doing about that," Huff says. "A very rational, but traditional way of thinking about it is, ‘Click here to go take action.’ That can be jarring, so we’re thinking about push versus pull—what about pulling the commercial opportunities into the user experience. [We want to] pull that stuff into the experience, allowing the consumer to take action if he or she is inspired to do so, but do it in an unobtrusive way."
That integration extends beyond product purchases and into service opportunities, he says. Publishers have tried to integrate traditional lead-gen models and include databases of professionals, but there’s a lack of relevance that ultimately undermines the effort.
The same goes for native advertising attempts—they can be done better and with a more intrinsic value add. Interactive sponsor elements like user tools should be part of the mix.
"If we get this right, this changes the way that the segment, and more broadly media companies, approach solving this problem," he says.