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Semantic technology is a term we have all heard, but does anyone really know what it means? It’s heralded by the likes of Google and Facebook, but as marketers or even end users, how does it impact the way we interact with content on the web?
To begin making sense of it, it’s important to know that traditional keyword search engines only reference keywords in the metadata. Whereas, semantic search operates more like the human mind. It goes beyond just looking at a headline on a page. Instead, semantic search analyzes the context of the entire article, image, or video to understand and determine the perception and sentiment of the content.
This level of machine intelligence has major implications for advertisers. Semantic solutions can help advertisers build better, more efficient campaigns and streamline content discovery.
Advertisers Need New Technologies
The Post Office is precedent for why this type of automation is needed. The U.S. Postal Service handles 16.5 billion cards, letters and packages between the Thanksgiving and New Years holidays. Its volume might be slipping, but mail carriers have relied upon mechanization since the 1950s. There’s just no going back to colonial era methods. Online advertisers are at a similarly decisive moment: Internet advertising is forecasted to grow at an average 15 percent annual rate between 2013 and 2015. Advertisers need new technologies.
It’s only fair to note that keyword advertising has come a long way. There are robust tools and practices for managing ad campaigns for targeting, exclusions, and negative keyword management. Keyword advertising has served its purpose well – for a while. Automation is needed to move ahead.
Semantic advertising solutions are predictive and determine the intended meaning of words so that searches and ad targeting can become more relevant. This is accomplished through complex algorithms equipped with ongoing learning capabilities. These predictive advertising platforms are giving advertisers and business owners back valuable work time by eliminating the need for keyword management, which isn’t necessary.
Ad Campaigns & Placement
The creation of an ad campaign in Google, Bing, or any other advertising opportunity powered by search, has traditionally required keyword set up and ongoing keyword management. That means selecting the appropriate words, avoiding negative brand associations, and using specialized tools to manage campaigns. Even then, ads could still end up in awkward places.
Bad ad placement is so common that there’s an entire Pinterest board dedicated to it called “ad placement fail” where you’ll see examples such as Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick being distastefully paired next to dog food ads. Many of those are keyword-based ads. It takes time to respond to those incidents, and damage could befall the corporate reputation. The risk of embarrassing incidents rises as the volume of keyword campaigns increases.
The Benefits of Semantic Technology
Semantic technology use ontologies – like a dictionary, but with context – for every vertical so that it’s possible for the system to know the difference between a Halloween “treat” and a doctor “treating” a patient. A dog food ad would therefore be far less likely to appear in the context of football.
Semantics is also scaling social advertising. Its ability to take into account content and context of information across the Web and on social networks enables native campaign execution.
Advertisers can spend more time developing creative campaigns based on external data points (audience, age, likes to a brand, individual preferences, etc.). Semantic engines work in real-time so advertisers no longer need to worry about spending significant time and resources in response to trends.
Publishers can save time and build stronger relationships with their readership by delivering relevant content while a user is browsing a corresponding article or video. Semantic technologies serve personalized recommendations based on the content they’re already engaged with. There are no manual inputs required to build robust recommendations to content; the machines do the work by reading and understanding the nature of the content in real-time.
End users will benefit by finding what they are looking for faster. Search engines are morphing into answer engines as leading search provides including Bing, Google, and others are all adopting semantic search to overlay information on top of their traditional results. Keyword-based results are slowly being preempted by answers, and advertisers would do well to take heed. Hakia, Lexxe, and VSW have also been at the forefront of semantic search technology.
The mechanization of online advertising and the search technologies that empower it is happening. The keyword, pigeonhole approach isn’t well suited to grow with today’s ad market, and new solutions are required to ensure that rapid growth continues.