Searching for Meaning…
Posted by direwolff on February 25, 2005
Keyword search and contextual ad targeting suffer from a similar dilemma…”that a word does not a meaning make”. A dear friend provided a really powerful analogy here. If you’re trying to locate a song or a tune knowing a note from that musical composition will not likely yield a very good match to other songs that have that note. Sure, the desired song will certainly be in the list, but result is only narrowed to a slightly smaller unmanageable results set. What we really want is something that can recognize a part of a tune and come back with results that also have that part of the tune. This will hopefully yield a significantly narrower set of results from which to find the one we’re looking for.
This is the same case for search. When one is searching for information about a certain topic, unless we’re looking for proper names or company names, keyword search isn’t very useful. Even sentences, while better than a single word, still require an exact match to be found, but this doesn’t necessarily talk to the idea of finding things that have similar meanings. There’s a context issue as well that needs to be considered. All of this means of course that end-users will soon need to become more effective at specifying their search criteria and parameters, but the need for tools that helpp in this regard is still a wide open opportunity that today has not been addressed very well.
In looking at most, if not all, of the contextual ad targeting services, they all seem to miss the mark unless they pick out a proper name within the page that they are targeting against and include a targeted ad that supports that proper name. For contextual ad targeting to really fulfill the panacea of being truly useful (that is receiving clickthroughs of beyond 2-3%, I really believe that the contextual targeting tech has got to evolve…a lot!
Just some thoughts to share…’cause they’re on my mind :-)