In marketing, data is power. But up until recently, the flow of data has been a one-way street. Data is collected at the point of sale, through market research and web analytics. Over the last decade, the volume of data available has grown exponentially to the point of becoming overwhelming. And yet, marketers derive little value from much of the data they collect, because it is largely unconnected and disorganized. The Semantic Web links and organizes data, making it more useful and insightful to marketers.
The Semantic Web is changing how marketers think about and use data. Through this new technology, marketers are better equipped to not just collect data, but to more effectively utilize it, and share it with the world. Suddenly data is sexy; data is content. Marketing and advertising as we know it will change as a result of the data created, compiled, verified, and utilized through the Semantic Web. Here are the top nine ways semantic technology will change marketing:
Linked Data-Semantic advertising will make it possible for advertisers to create sponsored metadata--semantic web data about the people, places, things, etc. listed in a webpage--so advertisers can bid to associate their metadata with names, facts or events. For example, an article announcing the Nobel Prize winner in literature sponsored by Barnes and Noble.
Mashable Data-Mash-ups pull data from multiple sources to create a new application, page or function. Open source applications and APIs allow users to use the functionality of an existing set of data to add value to another. Fore example, if you use an app on your phone to help you find a local dog park to take your new puppy to, you're actually using a mashup that pulls data on local dog parks as well as the phone's data about your location.
Deep Data-The Semantic Web allows market researchers to search the "deep web"--that's the chunk of the web that is estimated to have 500 times more content than is findable with current Web 2.0 search engines. You may not see the results of this plethora of added data directly, but the market researchers who are trying to figure out which ads you really want to be hit with certainly will.
Findable Data-The Semantic Web is all about linking data together, making it easier to search and find what you want. Advertisers will use natural language processors to make it easier for you to find the products and services you're looking for. For instance, if you're trying to find that funky ice cream shop on 2nd Street, your search engine will know which 2nd Street you mean and realize that you're actually talking about gelatto, and then it will point you towards this week's coupons.
Mobile Data-Web developers are hard at work trying to reformat websites, search engines, and all the associated advertising for mobile devices that are reshaping the web market. The Semantic Web will be crucial in the next few years to the development of richer, more user friendly mobile web platforms, and advertisers will take advantage of this ever growing market.
Social Data-According to a Nielsen study, the amount of time spent on social sites jumped 82% from December 2008 to December 2009, and advertisers have taken notice. The increasing prevalence of "Like" buttons all over the internet will continue to grow at an exponential rate as marketers utilize this simple semantic tool to make their content more findable and more sharable.
Pullable Data-The Semantic Web will create a marketing shift away from marketers pushing their products at you. Instead, it will be easier for you to pull the information on products and services that you're actually interested in. This is good news for both the marketer and the customer, as it means lower advertising costs and a better customer experience.
Trackable Data-A solid chunk of the data that will be linked together by the Semantic Web will be tracking data. For marketers, that means better analysis of who is buying, where and why. And the result of that data will be better products and services more ideally suited to your wants and needs.
Sexy Data-Better, more complete data through the Semantic Web will mean less ads you don't want to see and better ads for the things you actually want to learn about. Semantic marketing will mean less pesky pop-ups and a lot more finding the things you really want, through sleeker, more intuitive search processes. That would be pretty sexy.
The Semantic Web replaces the steady stream of incoming data with limited value that marketers are used to with data that is multi-dimensional. It has depth and breadth. It's linked to other data. It's more complex, but also more useful. It can be shared, tracked, mashed and pulled. It's simply more robust and creates value for both the marketer and the consumer. Thus the heart of semantic marketing is the design of customer interactions and experiences that allow us to get the most from the ever-growing web of data.