Since the early days of the Internet, website publishers have teamed up with advertiser brands to place ads next to Web content. Over time, there has been an evolving series of services created to target ads in an intelligent, intuitive manner -- based on a user's geographic location, demographics, previous Web behavior, etc. Ads that appear next to content that a user reads or searches for are served based on technologies that are constantly being tweaked, all of which are striving to find the most effective way to engage a user with an ad.
Today, after several iterations of ad targeting models, online website publishers who struggle with monetization and privacy matters are undergoing increased scrutiny in Washington. Many players in the online advertising space are searching for innovative alternatives to traditional advertising technologies. The industry seeks an advertising targeting solution that is both nonintrusive and operates on a massive scale. This is where semantic targeting technology comes into play.
Semantic advertising enables more granular, precise targeting, lifts the overall value of every ad impressions and protects advertiser brands in real time from appearing in negative contexts. In addition, the technology improves upon and avoids many of the shortcomings that challenge more traditional technologies, like contextual and behavioral targeting.
Targets more effectively
Semantics improves the accuracy of online advertising by understanding the meaning and sentiment of content at the URL level, and matching the most appropriate and relevant ads to that content. Semantic technology can understand strings of text and the associations between them, rather than unconnected keywords. Thus, semantics has the ability to differentiate between content about Amazon.com and the Amazon rainforest, and target ads accordingly. Semantic data can also boost the value of hard-to-sell publisher inventory (Web pages of content), effectively moving low performing remnant inventory to high CPM direct sales channels.
Reaches audience without privacy issues
By delivering online advertising to the right person, at the right time, with the right message, semantics delivers audience at scale. And because semantics does not target ads based on cookies, it does not utilize personally identifiable information or user data to target ads. Therefore, the problems associated with technologies like behavioral targeting do not plague semantics. Ads are targeted purely based on the real-time meaning of content that a user is engaged with.
Protects advertiser brands
In addition to targeting precision, semantic technologies offer a powerful brand protection tool. Semantic systems like Peer39 can be set to automatically recognize general terms that are undesirable and detect phrases in text associated with negative events, such as disasters and crime, which may reflect poorly on a brand. Upon detecting incongruous context, semantic technology automatically engages preset functions to replace an ad and prevent a partner's ad from being served.
In light of the 2009 Tiger Woods scandal, while many targeting technologies supplied golf-related ads next to unsavory content about Mr. Woods, semantics understood this content as being about Gossip or Celebrity News. Semantic technology avoids serving ads for golf brands, and protects reputations and images that may have been damaged by appearing next to unwanted content.
Semantics shows that someone who is reading content about a certain subject is also interested in learning more about, engaging in or purchasing a related product or service. Instead of targeting based on keywords or cookies, semantics focuses on the real-time meaning of content. Dedicated machinery crawls hundreds of websites in order to understand content, as well as significant shifts in the global discussion about a certain topic or person. It is this layer of data surrounding a page impression that ensures servers supply the most relevant and appropriate ads.
The internet is quickly becoming the most vital medium through which we read, work, learn and interact, and yet the IAB reports that a mere 8% of advertising dollars are currently spent there (most ad dollars go into TV, radio and print). There is huge potential for growth in this space, and as more advertising dollars move online, effective ad targeting will be more important than ever. Semantic data and attributes are moving to the center of the online advertising ecosystem, helping all players in the online advertising space better monetize inventory. With the recent emergence of innovative ad platforms in the industry, the more information clients have about every impression the better. At the highest level, the winners in this game will be those who embrace and possess the best, most accurate and timely data.