Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Gopala Krishna Behara, Raju Myadam

Blog Feed Post

The Oscars for the Top 5 Ad Targeting Fails (Semantic Tech Can Help)

Tired of being annoyed by online ads targeted at you that just make no sense? Have you evolved to unconsciously ignore those ad windows that often revoke a response best described as “huh?”? Any of these feelings sound familiar?

  • I looked for airline tickets/hotel reservation two days ago, even completed my booking. Why am I still being shown travel ads for days after?
  • Why is Facebook targeting me with random ads that have nothing to do with me? Why does Facebook think I’m overweight and looking to lose weight?
  • I think they think I’m a gender and sexual orientation different from what I really am!

And the list goes on!

If you’re looking to demystify why these things are happening to you, read on. Take consolation in knowing that you’re not alone. It happens to millions of online users every day. Here are some Ad Targeting methods that are predominant in the industry today:

1)      Audience Profiling:  Cookie tracking is used to profile audience members based on demographic information such as age, sex, address, marital status, disposable income, etc.  The user’s behavior (aka your behavior) is tracked by means of cookies that monitor the sites you visit and products you searched for.  This information is used at a later date to display an ad for a product even if it has no relation to your current browsing context. Ad targeting that’s based on user behavior can be creepy.

2)      Contextual Targeting: A true contextual targeting system needs to be able to zero in on the interest of the user based on the content that the user is reading. Many methods take a simplistic approach by focusing on the word or keywords in the content. Many times, the true context gets lost in translation.  This simplistic approach can often be dangerous and/or hilarious!

I’ve compiled my ‘Mis’-Oscar list for my top five genres of Ads that ‘Mis’-fired right here! 


  1. Mis- Placed

    Dell Ad Fail
  2. Mis-Scripted

    WaPo Ad fail

  3. Mis-Adventure

    Ship ad fail

  4. Mis-Animated

    Fear of Ducks Fail

  5. Tragic (truly!)

 tragic ad fail

Jokes apart, these examples demonstrate that keywords are a poor first approximation of interest or personalization.  However, our problems do not end there.  Growing concern around privacy (or lack thereof) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) has led to recent EU legislation that restricts cookie tracking and collection – this is having a big impact on the quality and quantity of data now available for analysis and is impacting the revenue generated. And there’s more.   A massive challenge for the mobile advertising sector is most smartphones do not support cookies, so targeting techniques that are based on them are largely irrelevant.  This is compounded further by the growing data consumption on smartphones.

We can and must do better.  Here’s why: today’s digital consumer has just come to expect more, in every dimension. The overall Digital experience of a user is correlated to:

  • Quality of content they are exposed to
  • Quality of Ads they are exposed to

These dimensions are driving User Engagement metrics which directly impact Online sales (for retailers, Brand Effectiveness (for Advertisers), and Ad revenue (for Publishers).

So how do we do better? Where the conventional approaches fail is they have no appreciation for what the user is actually interested in at any specific point in time. They may know they live in a fancy house and earn $1M a year but they don’t know if that adds up to interest in buying a Rolex or a Jaguar. Another manner in which these fail is by working off the model that the value of an ad is on a website that specifically caters to the category that the ad represents. For example, the value of a camera ad is not solely on a camera website. It has as much value on a tech review page of a media news site (such as CNET).

Semantic Targeting

Here is where Semantic Targeting plays a ‘Lead Role’. A key difference between a true contextual advertising system and a conventional one is that instead of scanning a page for keywords with bids, the former examines all the words and identifies their meaning in context – e.g. they can understand that the term jaguar refers to a car as opposed to an animal. In this way it can really understand the user’s interests at a point in time and tailor contextually relevant ads as a result.

Semantic targeting technology also distills the emotion and sentiment that is housed in the text. This will be a big step towards avoiding the ‘mis’-fired ads. And as for the privacy and PII concerns, no cookies are needed for a semantic targeting technology. All of this means it is a perfect fit for the Mobile platform or to complement traditional analytic approaches on line.

Did Semantic Targeting just sweep up all the Oscars?

Editor’s Note: Yes it did

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bill Roth

Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, discussed how they built...
Recently, WebRTC has a lot of eyes from market. The use cases of WebRTC are expanding - video chat, online education, online health care etc. Not only for human-to-human communication, but also IoT use cases such as machine to human use cases can be seen recently. One of the typical use-case is remote camera monitoring. With WebRTC, people can have interoperability and flexibility for deploying monitoring service. However, the benefit of WebRTC for IoT is not only its convenience and interopera...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Digital transformation - what we knew about it in the past has been redefined. Automation is going to play such a huge role in that because the culture, the technology, and the business operations are being shifted now," stated Brian Boeggeman, VP of Alliances & Partnerships at Ayehu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...