History tells us that, over time, all media fragments into increasingly specific areas of interest. Remember when there were only three television stations? Now there are multiple channels dedicated to interests like cooking, pets, travel, sports, history, science and even channels serving micro-interests like the Military History channel or Horse Racing TV. Likewise, online content typically appears on sites forming around specific areas of user interest. Internet search is also divided into specific verticals, despite the omnipresence of broad search engines like Google and Bing/Yahoo. Five years ago users would type “cheap flight to Miami” or “arthritis remedy” into a search engine query, now they go to their preferred vertical content sites like Kayak or WebMD to find relevant information.
Publishers still struggle, however, to keep users on their sites, as many face a mass exodus of users to the Google toolbar
. Publishers have reported to us that anywhere from 25% to 50% of the outbound clicks from their sites are going to an outside search engine. Even worse, publishers have to pay the search providers for the clicks to bring those users back. In most cases, Google monetizes the publisher’s content better than the publisher itself.
Fortunately, new search tools have emerged to help online publishers and marketers connect users to the content, products and services they desire within their areas of interest. Semantic technology represents the forefront of the search experience. Instead of relying on keywords, which can lead to narrow or inaccurate results, semantic search is based on concepts and is therefore more likely to understand the searcher’s intent. For example, if someone is on a food website, a semantic search engine will ensure that their search queries result in ads related to food or cooking. A query for “java” on a food site will result in content related to coffee, not computer programming.
Semantic technology does a better job than traditional search platforms in matching relevant advertisements to online content. Because it is conceptual instead of literal, semantic technology is able to match ads in ways that are limited by keyword algorithms. For example, an ad for avocados or salsa might appear next to an article about guacamole, even if those words do not appear on the page.
Vertically-focused semantic search represents an improvement in the online experience for site users, publishers and marketers. Users can quickly find information on the topics and subjects they are passionate about without leaving their favorite sites. They are presented with ads that are relevant to them, rather than the ubiquitous links for mortgage refinancing and teeth-whitening services. Of course, publishers are keenly interested in ways to enhance their user experience, but semantic search creates new revenue opportunities for them as well.
Search result pages generate incremental page views, which the publisher can use to sell additional units of display advertising inventory and to bring in more advertising revenue from high response semantically matched ads. Perhaps most importantly, search technology now offers publishers a way to create more engagement with users, keeping them on-site longer rather than surrendering them to an external search engine or toolbar.
For online marketers, semantic vertical search offers multiple benefits. It satisfies their demand for additional clicks, increases brand reach and ensures placement next to relevant content, yielding better response rates. Semantic search advertising is not based on keywords, so it does not require complex keyword bidding strategies and can be implemented quickly and easily.