Inspired by the automated machine that is Google (GOOG), the technophiles of Silicon Valley already believe their algorithms can target advertisements — with demographics, the content on the page, and even how the users looking at a Web page behave elsewhere on the Internet — better and faster than the mere humans on Madison Avenue.
Now they want to automate creative. Two California firms — Long Beach-based Adisn and Moutain View’s Tumri — say their machines can use the same information to build the actual ads themselves. The New York Times explains:
Adisn’s approach has been to build a database of related words so it can assess the content of a Web site or blog based on the words on its pages. Adisn then buys space on Web sites, and uses its information to find an appropriate ad to show visitors to those sites. If a visitor views pages about beaches, weather and Hawaii, it might suggest that the visitor is interested in Hawaiian travel. Based on that analysis, Adisn’s system pulls different components — actors, fonts, background images — to make an ad.
Tumri’s approach is slightly different. It creates a template for ads, including slots for the message, the colour, the image and other elements. Unlike Adisn, it does not buy ad space, but lets clients — like Sears and Best Buy — choose and buy space on sites themselves. And rather than building a contextual database like Adisn, Tumri uses whatever targeting approach advertisers are already using, whether it is behavioural or contextual or demographic, and assembles an ad on the fly based on that information.
These tools sound like a great way to adjust banners on the fly. But we’re are sceptical these tools could do much more. Years ago, Yahoo tasked a team of top engineers led by super-brain Usama Fayyad with unlocking the secrets of behavioural targeted. Hasn’t happened yet, and Fayyad is no longer with the company.