Semantic Advertising and Text Analysis gives more targeted ad campaigns

Semantic Advertising and Text Analysis gives more targeted ad campaigns

The internet has had a massive impact on marketing and advertising in general. It has provided an effective way for businesses to access target prospects with branded and targeted marketing material at scale. However, how effective are traditional digital advertising techniques? Have we become immune to flashy banner ads and keyword focused promotional material? Apparently not! But it seems things can improve.

Online Advertising

Spending on ads served to internet enabled devices, desktops, laptops, mobiles and tablets will reach $137.53 billion this year and will continue to grow, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates of worldwide paid media spending.

Advertising online is based around matching ads or promotional material (banner ads, links, video and interactive ads) with appropriate web pages where the right audience will see them. Traditionally ad targeting is done by manual classification of pages or by using information retrieval techniques to find keywords from the page, and match these to keywords associated with ads.

While this has proven to be a pretty effective promotion channel thus far, it does have its problems. It is true that a lot about the effectiveness of an ad is down to the creative, the look and feel, the text used etc but if it’s showing up in the wrong place in front of the wrong people it isn’t going to be effective.

Relevance is key!

Ads today are often intrusive, robotic and just not relevant! Well placed and effective ads all have particular attributes that stand out from the rest. They are relevant and they promote a product or service that the visitor is likely to be interested in.

In the case below I visited a few pages to see how they faired by way of “targeted” advertising. The ad served to me on Mashable was for Eukanba dog food. Is this relevant?  I don’t have a dog and I have never bought or researched dog food online. It also isn’t relative to anything else on the page and therefore there is very little chance I would click on that ad.


poorly targeted advertising


So what can we do to get more effective ads in front of the right people? By incorporating text analysis and semantic capabilities into ad placement strategies, we can focus on more than just keyword matching and serve relevant ads in the right place at the right time.

What is semantic targeting?

Semantic advertising aims to analyze web pages to properly understand and classify the meaning of the page in order to ensure that viewers of the page are shown the most appropriate ads.

Semantically targeted ads increase the chance that the viewer will “click-through” because only ads that are relevant to what the user is viewing or the page they are on will be displayed. For example, say you visit a mountain biking blog, you are far more likely to click on an ad for cycling gear or bike helmets than one for car insurance as it is far more relevant at that time.

Advantages of Semantic Ads

Focused on more than keywords

Words can have multiple meanings and scanning web pages for keywords in order to serve certain ads isn’t always effective. For example, the word “apple” may result in ads being displayed about Apple accessories or an organic fruit delivery service which means depending on the meaning of the word relevant to the content it’s included in the ad could be very poorly or well targeted. A better approach would be to analyze the rest of the page to understand the context and if there are mentions of other fruits and organic farming etc… It is probably safe to say the delivery service as would be more appropriate.

Brand Protection

Ads can often turn up in some pretty inappropriate places if they are targeted by one factor and one factor only, say keywords for example.




In the example above, the ad was most likely targeted to the webpage visitor based on keyword matching. Matching “grilling” as a keyword in the article title with the grilling competition advertisement. Is this ad relevant? No. Does it promote the company’s brand in a positive light? No. Is it an effective advertisement? Certainly not.

Not behaviour based

These days we have become a lot more private in our web use. People are conscious of behaviours being tracked for advertising purposes whether for display ads or retargeting techniques and have become a lot more savvy by choosing to block ads completely where possible, using private search engines or by clearing their cookies on a regular basis. This poses a significant problem as it takes away a particularly effective form of targeting based on behavioural tracking. Semantic ad Targeting allows advertisers to move away from behaviour tracking and think on their feet by serving relevant ads in real time based on analysis of the text on pages.


Using NLP and Text Analysis techniques advertisers can analyze web pages to understand the context of keywords, extract entities and concepts mentioned in a text and classify webpages automatically. Allowing them to look beyond keywords and search terms to automatically match ads with relevant content on webpages. Being smarter and more strategic about how we target prospects and embracing new technology, could one day mean that ads will become so relevant that, we actually find them useful and don’t feel the need to block them.

Text Analysis API - Sign up

Let's Talk