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August 12, 2009


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Great writeup, Mark. I'll add one more question that we talked about, but I didn't feel I got a solid answer on:
How can semantics improve ad targeting and effectiveness? Missing from our (already overpopulated) panel was Lucid Media and Hakia, both of which are promoting their technology as improving ad relevancy in a contextual environment. The biggest complaint most advertisers have about contextual advertising is the haphazard relevancy matching.
Is semantic more effective than plain-old contextual, and how is it really different? And, does behavioral/demographic trump the need for semantic matching?

Thanks again to all of the panelists, who really brought their A-game to the discussion. I wish we could have had 2 more hours!

Dana Todd, CMO
Newsforce, Inc.

Christopher Weiss


Thanks for the mention. We have spent ten years advancing the use of semantics, most recently applying our relevance engine to online ad targeting and optimization. We have shown through numerous campaigns that it is highly effective in terms of both advertiser performance and return on spend. But your last point about behavioral trumping the need for semantics is a white-hot issue right now with all the privacy self-regulation discussions going on in Washington. While past studies from Marketing Sherpa and AdAge have shown the two approaches to be closely matched and often complimentary, the recent privacy issues may mean more trouble for the behavioral camps. More and more advertisers are looking to the less intrusive forms of contextual for their ad placements. The FTC recognized this when they specifically excluded contextual advertising from the privacy discussion. This may become the single most important driver of semantic technologies in ad placement over then next decade and one we are all watching very closely.

Christopher Weiss

Jason Menayan @ YieldBuild

Terrific writeup, Mark. It was a great panel; lots of important insight into the opportunities that semantic technology has in the realm of SEO, advertising, and information aggregation in the coming years. An interesting time to be alive. :)

Regarding your first question at the end: I think grasping what semantics really is (I think Nova mentioned that everyone struggles to describe what it really is, even those who understand it) has been a bit of an impediment. A thorough think-through about what it means for the Web landscape and how information retrieval happens has been another. Practical application to refine contextual targeting, disambiguate searches, and the like will go a long way in getting past the hurdle.

Jason Menayan


This may sound like a dumb question, Mark, but how does one visually scan a page of search results and know what is semantically influenced vs. whatever-else influenced?

You gave a link to a Yahoo search for "kelly shoes" for example. I look at that page and I don't automatically see anything jumping out at me as "semantic". What should we look for, to see clues of semantic search influence?


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