Improving the effectiveness and profitability of online advertising looks set to become much easier and accurate thanks to semantic technology. Well established Italian software company Expert System yesterday announced the launch of a new contextual advertising solution with semantic intelligence called Cogito. In his post ‘Semantics in Advertising‘ for ZDNet, Paul Miller of Talis says “On the surface, a release phrased in that way might easily be dismissed as jumping on the ’semantic’ band-wagon, but there appears to be substance behind the sometimes over-hyped language.” and that will interest many. In Expert System’s release we read: The main issue limiting the online advertising market today is the disconnect between advertisement placement and the relevance of the copy. This is due to the reliance on keyword frequency without considering the meaning. Oftentimes, ads may appear on pages that have little significance to the assigned page or may produce counterproductive effects. For example, an ad for a Caribbean vacation package may inadvertently appear near an article about a massive hurricane that ripped through that region. I can’t remember where I saw it but the best example I’ve seen to date on negative or counter productive advertising was a news item about a cruise liner (or was it a ferry?) sinking and right next to the article was an advert for Caribbean cruises. What the ??. That’s like saying “Hey why not come on our cruise. If you don’t sink you’ll have a great time”. – Not quite what the advertiser wanted I’m sure but ongoing semantic research is starting to bring about change. Semantic technology does have the capability to make a huge impact in targeted advertising for all of us. While it’s not all of the way there yet, I can see that in the near future I’ll be able to say “I want my ads to appear only to website visitors who are Male, aged between 40 – 55, who live within 5 miles of X and are interested in Y” I hope to be able to add in more parameters and cover more than one ad network but for the time being I’ll have to live in the ‘here and now’ and keep an eye on the other emerging semantic research companies who are helping to shape the future of ecommerce on the web.