Semantic Search Likely To Increase Paid Link Profits
There's no denying that pay-per-click links need a boost. Only 20% of the 325 people who participated in a recent search survey said they occasionally click on sponsored links, according to Piper Jaffray managing director Gene Munster, who moderated the panel "Searching for the Future" at the Global Internet Summit 2008 in Laguna Beach, Calif. earlier this week.
Mark Cramer, CEO at Surf Canyon, which offers a browser extension for search engines, built on semantic technology, said the percentage the company registers is far less than the Piper Jaffray stat.
Panelists from Oakland, Calif.-based Surf Canyon and New York-based Hakia told attendees that click-throughs have declined and they have a better way to reverse that trend for marketers. Semantic search, which relies on a variety of linguistic tools and natural language technology to interpret the meaning of search phrases, can produce more accurate results, increasing the relevance for queries to serve up precise paid or sponsored links.
"If 10% of people click on sponsored links today, semantic search would increase that to 50%," said Melek Pulatkonak, Hakia president. Keywords determine most query results, while semantic search relies on the meaning, so the technology requires a more sophisticated architecture and index, which remain major hurdles preventing widespread adoption, she said.
The ability to have a natural conversation with the computer and mobile phones, including verbal conversations, will enable search engines to serve up more accurate paid links. "You will be able to chat with your search engine in instant messenger," Pulatkonak said, "and have a natural conversation with your computer."
The technology in "Star Trek episodes will become a reality," she added.
Hakia is not the only company supporting the semantic search. Elsevier, a publisher of scientific, medical, and technical products and services, recently unveiled an upgrade to illumin8, an online semantic text-mining search engine designed to help researchers closely answer complex questions with greater speed. The search engine is not free, and it takes a few seconds to cross-check the meaning. It presents a summary of results organized in separate panes of a full-screen window in about 15 seconds, sorted by organization, approach, benefit, author/inventor, company and product.
Earlier this week, Microsoft secured a search deal that gives Sun Microsystems the rights to distribute the Redmond, Wash. company's MSN Toolbar powered by Microsoft Live Search as part of its Java Runtime Environment. Industry insiders believe that Microsoft eventually will integrate semantic search, a technology acquired through the July acquisition of San Francisco-based Powerset.
Microsoft then could easily migrate semantic into mobile search, a segment under siege, as it battles with Google for the rights to become the search engine on Verizon Wireless phones.