Every online endeavor starts with a goal. In search that goals is often explicit. In content that goal becomes much more implicit. What’s important to note is that just because a person is in content it doesn’t mean their goal is lost or not as important as it was in search. People spend much more time in content then they do on search engines. In fact, in content there’s a higher propensity for secondary and latent goals to emerge. Content is a goal farm but nobody has been plowing these fields.
Google owns the farm in search but where the online interest paths begin, recovery & discovery, transcend marketing channels. Building marketing applications for interest and intent in another channel needs begin in a different place. It just so happens where interest and intent end in Search they begin anew in Publisher content.
Actually, in 97% of searches the intent never ended, we just have marketed like it has and failed to create solutions meeting the needs of “searchers” other than the back button. Semantic ad applications are one solution. They create interest paths that can maintain intent, create intent, trigger latent intentions or marketing to implicit intentions. This is powerful stuff.
I briefly touched on the concept of how to capture these intentions by flipping the SEM experience in a previous post. I think the concept deserves a deeper exploration because it gets to the root of how semantic ads deliver relevance to the goals and intentions of an audience. Let’s compare the two experiences.
Step 1 – User Control: A query is the strongest element in all of marketing. In the user-controlled medium of the web it has added power. The act of input – the ultimate in user control over the medium. The expression of language – the definition of relevance.
Step 2 – Targeted Content: While the query is the goal for the user, it is the rule for the delivery of content. There are a number of rule inputs associated with Google’s algorithm — some say as many as 500. However, the words that are entered and the order of them are rules 1 & 2 from which everything else follows.
Note: This proves the value of content targeting greatly exceeds that of behavioral targeting but I’ll save that for another post.
Anyway, what happened here is the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) content is delivered dynamically on the results page and as subsequent queries are entered, new rules are used.
Step 3 – Contextual Relevance: The content that comprises the search engine results page is the expression of the best efforts of the algorithm to deliver content relevant to the query. After this content is delivered to user regains control over the deciding relevance based on the context of their original goal and the secondary & latent goals that are involved in the consideration of the results set but not expressed in the query.
Step 4 – Publisher Content: Once a decision is made as to what result content seems most relevant to our searcher she then crosses experiences landing on a new page with where she can (and will) proceed down any number of new paths.
If you’re familiar with SEM those concepts aren’t new to you but if you come from the Display side or other channels that process is important to understand. Search is an application (content delivery) built on top of a platform (the web). Successful marketing strategies of the future will have to be created around this same formula.
Semantic ads have the good fortune of being built around this formula and are able to replicate the entire Search experience, effectively continuing the interest path by dynamically building new paths, or as I’m now calling them, RAMPs.
Step 1 – Publisher Content: We start where the people are. Content. Semantic is defined as “the meaning of words.” It makes sense that the semantic ad application experience begins with content and the ability to extract meaning from it.
Step 2 – Contextual Relevance: The interest path we are providing is rooted in the content experience. To trigger interest and intent we must be contextually relevant to the content. While you may discover some interesting counterintuitive relationships of ads and content (in one semantic campaign laptop ads got better response on content about desktops than on laptop content) there is no real marketer genius at work here. This is the semantic technology at work.
Step 3 – Targeted Content: The “wow” factor of Semantic Ad Applications is taking the meaning of the page and delivering content into the ad dynamically through the API. Just like in search, semantic ad applications use rules to deliver content and functionality.
Step 4 – User Control: One of my optimization rules has always been to give users control of the experience. We are in a user controlled medium and no matter how smart you are as a marketer you will never understand the interest and intent of your audience better than they themselves will. Semantic Ad Applications give the audience the ability to query and navigate the information and content. This is at the core of the performance we’re seeing — making these ads not “marketing speak” but useful, helpful and ultimately powerful utilities.
I look forward to exploring the idea of creating interest paths further in the coming weeks. There is a lot here to chew on and things are coming together quickly and we’re building more RAMPs even as I try to define what this can ultimately look like. Like the rest of Semantic Web it’s looking bigger, better and more relevant every day.