Semantic advertising increases engagement

12 December 2013
LONDON: Semantic advertising can increase engagement rates "up to tenfold" according to the Financial Times, which is offering this as a new advertising format following a lengthy trial.

This approach, called FT Smart Match, moves beyond the use of keywords to apply technology to an analysis of the meaning and concepts contained in a web page and so help brands appear in a more relevant context. At the same time it can address concerns about brand safety by preventing ads from appearing next to inappropriate articles.

A Google search will throw up numerous examples of online misplacement of ads, such as a beer ad appearing next to a story about drink-driving, or one for a holiday in Greece beside a news story on riots in Athens. And earlier this year Facebook was at the centre of a row about ads being placed on pages that appeared to promote violence against women.

Jon Slade, FT commercial director of global digital advertising and insight, told Marketing Week: "Delivering relevant content from our advertising partners in a timely and transparent way has proven to be a very attractive proposition for brands and readers".

In trials, business school IMD used FT Smart Match to target 800 pieces of content at relevant news stories on FT.com and claimed a 600% increase in click-through rates.

IMD is also one of 12 launch brands signed up to use the service, along with others such as RBS and Robeco Asset Management.

The issue of brand safety has been a factor holding back the speed of development of programmatic buying strategies. A recent IAB survey in the US found that one third of advertisers were actively inhibiting adoption of programmatic approaches because of decreased control over where their advertising might be viewed.

And in the UK, trade bodies and advertisers have been in talks to agree guidelines on brand safety protocols.

Data sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by Warc staff
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