Semantic Targeting 101


During the past few years, the advertising industry has focused on and perfected the art of buying audiences. But until now, controlling the environment in which ads appear across large volumes of inventory has been nearly impossible.

Buying page environments, as opposed to audiences, needs to be the principle behind every ad buy. Understanding environment data in real time is critical to RTB because it gives advertisers the power to refrain from bidding on pages that are not safe or aligned with their brand. Safety and relevancy controls, when this data is integrated, ought to be firmly in the hands of the brand.
Understanding the quality, safety and content of the page gives top tier brands a new assurance and opens the doors for these brands to enter the RTB environment. The gateway to the optimization of RTB’s advantages is semantic-based targeting. The most effective approach, I believe, leverages page-level intelligence, which is the only data that is both pervasive across the internet and persistent on 100 percent of all impressions. Campaigns are then enabled to target and optimize at a massive scale.
Semantic-based targeting extracts meaning from web pages and targets ads against that data. It’s available on virtually every impression at a relatively low cost. There is something meaningful to say about every page out there, and literally billions of opportunities for brands to reach their target market can be unearthed.
As an industry we have an unhealthy fascination with “what’s cool” or “what’s next” instead of what works. Online advertising, to fulfill our true promise, must tip the balance toward business needs. A CMO doesn’t need to be aware of every possible targeting or analytic tactic. What a CMO does care about is relatively straightforward:
  • Does the message align with the brand and its objectives?
  • Did we strike the balance between the message getting in front of the most people on the one hand, and targeting that message to the right group to be influenced- mass marketing vs. targeted marketing?
  • Is the message in an environment appropriate for the brand?
  • Can all this be accomplished in a way that the campaign performs, but performs relative to investment efficiency?
The element that can’t be stressed enough is scale. Achieving massive scale with the right message will drive results.Targeting online should be easy and effective for brands, but shouldn’t be unduly expensive either.
We as an industry have become experts at reaching the individual user. But that’s not nearly enough to move the needle for huge brand budgets to come online. We’ve got to move beyond the bottom of the funnel. Semantics fuels mid-funnel activity and the impact on ROI is ultimately a game-changer for everyone.
Andy Ellenthal is CEO of Peer39 a semantic advertising technology company.

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