The art of comprehending written or verbal forms of human communication through the use of computers is known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). Although the idea has been around for quite a while — since the 1950s, in fact — we are just now entering an age of technology where it’s actually possible and affordable.
For a machine to understand human language, be it in verbal or written form, is no easy task. Take this sentence from Microsoft’s NLP Research site: "Flying planes can be dangerous." Although we humans can easily understand this simple thought, imagine the difficulty a computer program might have discerning the difference between an airplane and a woodworking tool, and judging which definition makes sense in this particular context. It’s made possible by using forms of artificial intelligence that "learn" the language by analyzing existing documents and predicting the probabilities associated with a particular use of language.
Early attempts at using NLP in the real world manifested themselves in automated phone response systems or virtual telephone assistants, used widely by marketers today (such as the Continental Airlines flight status line). NLP is even finding its way into CRM tools such as Primus’ Quick Resolve and search engines like Google.
NLP also has a place in the email universe. Take Banter, a California-based company that’s using NLP as a spam filter. Banter’s software monitors a person’s email client, such as Outlook, and learns silently how to rate emails through a user’s actions. The rating scale is 1 to 100, so messages from a specific person or those that contain content that a user always responds to quickly are rated highly and float to the top of the in box. Spam and other emails that often stay unread are not deleted but are dragged to the bottom of the in box.
Despite the negative customer feedback that abounds with many of the existing systems (call your local DMV to see why), there is increasing reason to believe that NLP technologies will soon find their way to the marketing arena. Mark Kecko is MediaPost’s Technology Director.
ClickPick Marketingterms.com by Amy Corr
Online advertising and marketing terms multiply at an almost astronomic rate these days, and it may be hard to keep track of them all. To ensure that you really know your industry lingo, check out Marketingterms.com -- a newly formatted website containing 150 industry related terms searchable alphabetically or categorically. The site also gives users a definition, information about the topic, related terms, and even articles on the subject.
The site also has a section showing which definitions were recently added, which definitions were recently updated (site publisher Sean O’Rourke says updates are done twice a day), and even a list of the Top 50 searched terms over the first half of 2002. FYI, Blog is the #1 term and impression is #50. Marketingterms.com has a section of useful web links, ranging from Marketing & Advertising News to Frequently Used Webmaster Tools. If you don’t see your desired term on the website, you can also check out the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) glossary of terms. Strictly comprised of definitions, the IAB’s glossary contains 400 Interactive Advertising Terms, including trade-related associations from AAAA to WAA.
AdServer Focus:The Publisher Side
by Amy Corr
After last month’s profile of OpenAdvertiser, MEDIA received a lot of requests for more information on publisher-side ad servers. We picked a few of the top ones to spotlight.
24/7 Real Media Open AdStream — Open AdStream generates detailed reports and allows users to control individual ad deliveries. It profiles website visitors and delivers targeted ads based on the visitor’s profile. The company touts itself as being the only ad server that protects the publisher’s business model by delivering its message without surrendering control of audience information. Pricing begins at $1,000 a month for OAS Central, and customer service is offered — not surprisingly — 24/7. Creative reports are updated in real time, and all interactive units and wireless capabilities are accepted. With the data that is captured, publishers can determine which pages drive the best response, which ads perform best, and how to improve future campaigns, and can then act accordingly.
Advertising.com ACE Serve — ACE Serve views its targeting and inventory management tools to be of key import to publishers. ACE Serve provides forecasting tools, scheduling capabilities, and detailed reports, and its proprietary technology AdLearn allows users to plan, place, and track campaigns automatically. Pricing varies with volume, but large publishers can expect about a $.20 CPM. Customer service is Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; outside these times, support is offered on a one-hour-callback basis. Creative updates are done in real time, and all rich media formats are accepted. WAP and SMS formats are supported, and ads can be sent to iTV, electronic billboards, and Internet kiosks.
Engage AdManager — Security, multi-site access, and a comprehensive reservation system are some of AdManager’s main attractions. Users can set up separate accounts for advertisers, salespeople, agencies, and administrators. Available inventory can be “reserved” for upcoming campaigns, and salespeople and advertisers can be notified via email when campaigns are almost complete. Creatives are updated in real time, and the system automatically decides which creatives are performing best and runs the more popular ones rather than the underachievers. AdManager also ensures that duplicate creatives do not appear on the same page. Additionally, this ad server was recently approved by the Rich Media Certification Program, so almost all rich media ads are accepted. Ads can be sent to cell phones, iTVs, ATMs, and video streams, and cross-media campaigns can be managed and integrated through a single user interface. The software license for AdManager costs $21,000 and technical support is available 24/7.
ValueClick MOJO Publisher — MOJO Publisher looks at a site’s performance from both the publisher’s point of view and the advertiser’s. MOJO has inventory forecasting, keyword reporting, and an accounting system that automates invoices and payments and handles multiple currencies and languages for overseas ventures. ValueClick’s proprietary technology eTrax provides post-click tracking analysis for ongoing campaigns. There is a one-time setup fee for MOJO, and the monthly CPM rate is based on volume. Standard technical support is offered during regular business hours and emergency support is available 24/7. Creative updates are done every five minutes and on the hour, and the system handles most rich media.