Using Keywords for Display Ad Relevance


One of the most exciting things about the move to a Search
OS in Display
is the use of keywords for ad and content targeting. Sure, keywords have
always been used in contextual ads but often results are poor with no
disambiguation or optimization over the delivery (e.g. just check this button
and we’ll run your search ads in content – um, no thanks). Things are changing.

A current campaign for a RAMP client involved our providing
keyword lists to no less than 4 different display networks focused on understanding intent,
affinity and sentiment (Facebook was not one of them). Those keywords are used by
the ad platforms to target. We are using the keyword
as a rule to dynamically deliver the ad content. This is a giant leap forward
in relevance for display ads.

The use of REST and Semantic APIs with data from the
publishers and content into the ads is fueling this progress.
Eventually I expect one or more truly dynamic content exchange marketplaces to emerge,
looking a heck of a lot like buying search ads – and performing much more like it.

At the moment there is no bidding for these keywords but
it’s easy to see how this could happen. There are clear valuations, mainly
temporal, that these platforms can leverage for bidding and to deliver even
higher degrees of relevance.

Display will be fixed.
Leave it to the search guys to make it happen. 



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2 responses to “Using Keywords for Display Ad Relevance”

  1. Derek Newman Avatar
    Derek Newman

    Hi Jonathan,
    I’ve been following your blog for some time now and have been constantly amazed and delighted by your thoughts and stories. Thanks for sharing.
    May I ask how comprehensive the keyword rule list is? And how do you deal with people browsing to the page as distinct from using a search engine to reach the ad – i.e. have not signaled specific intent – do the other factors you’ve mentioned previously kick in here?
    I am always fascinated by your descriptions of the system your are building.


  2. Jonathan Mendez Avatar

    Kevin- Thanks for the kind words.
    The lists can be as extensive as you like. Just think of them as targeting rules ala search. The are “content” rules so the ad is targeted to the content. The intent is not expressed in a query. The ads job is to create interest that can be turned into intent.


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