Contextual advertising is nothing new.
In fact, technically all advertising is contextual. Starting with the very first print ad to the latest social engagement platform. Each ad is targeted with information, programming or entertainment that the content’s audience would find relevant. How else would Harry Crane have a job?
Advertising isn’t dead. In fact, if anything it is becoming more effective and cost efficient. Any ad you can engage with, benefit from and utilize effectively is a success (unless no one clicks on it).
Segmentation and estimates allow you to get a picture of how successful your efforts are. As time as gone on this has gotten more and more sophisticated as algorithms, analysis and numbers have taken precedence over creativity in the advertising hierarchy. The true era of measurement is finally coming into vogue.
With analytics and conversion running the show the engagement and stickiness of the content has become that much more important. This being said? True contextual semantic advertising is still in its infancy.
However, we’ve all had an ad hit a little to close to home on Facebook. We get a sneaking suspicion that the powers that be really are watching all of us and tracking our every move. As a marketer I geek out and celebrate it as a massive step forward in targeting.
The next battleground to be waged? The open web. At the moment, the most advanced contextual ads rely on gated communities like Facebook or Myspace. They aren’t going to broadcast to anyone that isn’t logged in. This is a major problem for both communities.
The beauty of the social web is that it is all connected. The closed community is dying (regulated industries excluded) and the open source model is even being embraced by Facebook and Google (See both versions of Connect).
Where does this leave semantic advertising then? The benefit and success of the ads within the networks was from the massive amounts of data collected from the users. Without context? The ads just become weak engagement opportunities and won’t be very successful (ask Youtube who now allows you to skip pre-roll).
This is why when you look at Facebook and Google’s decision to go to a more open format and integrate “Connect” options the move makes a whole lot more sense. They aren’t just providing convenience, they are capturing and examining relevant data so they can push out and make their ads more effective and live in more places.
The next big step I expect to see in semantic ads: Engagement Ad Outposts.
Content is already embeddable anywhere on the web. Why can’t ads be dropped in, capture semantic data, and monetize effectively? This would be a sort of penultimate affiliate/semantic engagement experience. The ads could eventually become based off of a primitive AI.
The opportunities for technology and content intersection are off the charts once you start realizing the potential raw data that you could hook into for targeting.
Now let’s go play in the sandbox and build something awesome.
Image Source: Ann Larie Valentine