by Mike Masnick

You Got Your Tags In My Contextual Advertising...

from the tag-that-ad dept

Take two things, each of which may be overhyped in their own way, and mash them together... and something interesting might occur. Thanks to Google's success, everyone is focused on contextual advertising these days and trying to figure out how to leverage them -- though, the "just slap AdSense on this new site" business model isn't much to write home about. Instead, others are trying to really take on Google by offering alternatives to Google's AdSense program. We already spoke about Amazon's plan to offer its own contextual advertising program, but another online retailer is trying to do something different. CafePress, the online retailer that lets people offer their own branded products, is combining ads with tags. Tags, of course, are also overhyped in a variety of ways. However, there are some areas where they can be useful -- and CafePress's tagged ads might be a good example.

While most people think of the company as a place to simply sell t-shirts, not enough people recognize how CafePress really catalogs timely events. Within hours of any major news event, it seems that someone, somewhere will have set up a Cafe Press store to sell items related to that event. Of course, with such rapid setup of timely news-related products, regular contextual advertising doesn't necessarily work. So, instead, CafePress is offering a program where people can define specific tags, and immediately have ads for related products show up. In other words, rather than contextual ads, the ad topic can be very narrowly defined by the site owner. This certainly makes sense for the type of timely content on CafePress, but you could see it make sense elsewhere as well -- where the context of the words on a site might not necessarily correctly suggest what ads should be displayed. Of course, there are also some concerns -- with the biggest one being the issue that faces most open tagging systems: spam. The various merchandisers may start gaming the system by tagging their own unrelated products as being part of the latest breaking news story to get extra buzz from sites that jump on the story. Also, this whole idea would require site owners to be proactive in adjusting these ad tags -- something that many probably won't really be willing to do.

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  • identicon
    AngryEd, 8 Mar 2006 @ 5:47am

    No Subject Given

    Methinks that you've missed the point of tagging entirely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 8 Mar 2006 @ 6:43am

      Re: No Subject Given

      Oh, I think you've missed the point! Do you know there are third world children starving? I mean, come on! Intelligence MUST be a genetic trait, or the cars wouldn't turn left. Seriously, the next time you publish slander in the Pope's name, we're going to blows.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Abigail, 8 Mar 2006 @ 7:20am

    In other words, online ads will always be irreleva

    How many of us read the ads on the website we're visiting? I never do.

    Did you know you can buy really cool laser pointers online? If you read the ads you do.

    CafePress' idea of tagged ads is the right concept...but almost everything starts with the right concept. Didn't Google have the same plans for their contextual ads?

    Within six months of the launch, the abuse will kick in, leaving online ads just as irrelevant as they are now...why waste the time reading them?

    Search rankings are where the key to online advertising.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brian, 8 Mar 2006 @ 8:55am

    The best of both worlds

    How about a hybrid system that scans the content and then generates a series of tags? Authors could then opt-out of the tags they feel aren't relevant to their content. Throw in some site wide rules about what tags to automatically remove, and you can make the process fairly hands-off. This doesn't solve all of the problems, but it could make the process more manageable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dosquatch, 8 Mar 2006 @ 9:41am

      Re: The best of both worlds

      How about a hybrid system that scans the content and then generates a series of tags?

      That's kinda what full-text searching does, only every word is a tag, which is what was said in the rant on topix linked to above.

      For instance, if I were to say something about Jessica Alba, and Salma Hayek, and, oh, I don't know, Hot Lesbian Sex Video (insert Homer drool here), all in close proximity to each other (so to speak), this page would suddenly show up on a full third of all pr0n searches for no good reason.

      Oh, I have no real point here, other than to say "Shame on you for following such an obviously naughty link!"

      And, umm, if you happen to find anything like that, could you send me a copy?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    W.B. McNamara, 8 Mar 2006 @ 11:28am

    You might even call them "meta" tags...

    Interesting: in reading the clickz article I was struck by how one could implement the exact same thing with the good old-fashioned META tag. Inasmuch as I believe that it's "META" as in "METADATA," this would even seem rather appropriate. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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