Semantic Technologies have potential to revolutionize online advertising. Today, people talk about “targeting” ads, so the message goes to the right person at the right time. How do they know? In general, they guess. They don’t have access to the customer’s preferences, calendar, inventory of things she has, and list of things she is currently looking for. Which is why advertising is such a hit-or-miss prospect. It’s obviously more targeted online than it is at a football stadium, but today’s online approaches still guess much more than they know. This gives most people the impression that advertising is annoying. In fact, advertising is welcome in the right context. If I’m looking for a new car, I don’t mind spending time at various manufacturer’s web sites and seeing what’s new. I am interested in offers. In fact, I’m so interested in receiving offers that I’ll pay attention to a relevant offer whenever I see one.

Since semantic data will revolutionize search, it will also revolutionize advertising. When we search for something, we often see ads alongside that compete with the natural search results. When these ads are irrelevant, we tune them out. The more relevant the search results are, the more relevant the ads will have to be as well.

In the world of pull, I won’t randomly bump into ads for products I’m not looking for. Instead, I’ll have an online workspace where I’ll keep all my preferences, inventory of what I have, and lists of things I’m looking for. I’ll keep my calendar there, and my calendar knows that certain people’s birthdays are coming up, so I’ll want to buy presents for them, and it ties right into their online data lockers, so I can see what kinds of things they would like to receive as a gift. When all this information is connected, advertising will become 100 times more relevant than it is today. Semantic advertising will most often come in the form of a set of offers, a filtering mechanism, and a set of messages going back and forth until I find exactly what I’m looking for. We’re not there yet, but we do have some progress to report.

Transitional Strategies

Several ad servers are using artificial intelligence to try to learn the meaning of the content to properly choose the ad to go with it. You’ll find a list on our page for advertising tools.

External References

Read Scott Brinker’s excellent analysis of semantic advertising trends.

Read John Galvin’s explanation of what search engines see.