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Bill Roth, Ulitzer Editor-at-Large

Bill Roth

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If I ran an advertising network, I would be really worried. There have been two developments recently which would kill my business. Luckily, there is hope.

The first major development is the EU Cookie legislation, described on the UK information commissioner’s office here. As we have all experienced, this has led to EU websites having to ask users if they want to enable cookies. (Most of these are in a manner that defies basic Human Factors standards, IMHO.) This essentially makes it easy for consumers to opt out of being tracked. 

Now, I am all for privacy, but I have to make a living. This will essentially greatly reduce the effectiveness of most advertising, since without cookies, advertising networks cannot build effective user models. (Actually, there is way, bit hold that thought.) This will mean that most advertisers will see a more pronounced decrease in Clickthrough Ratio that they are already seeing.

The second major development is the layest Firefox patch to allow the blocking of 3rd party cookies by default. The IAB's chief lawyer went on to say in CNET that this was the equivalent to a "Nuclear First Strike":

Mike Zaneis, Online advertising Lawyer

This move would make it all but impossible to track users and to build models of relevant content for them. When the IAB’s lawyer gets involved, you know it’s serious.

However, there is hope. Sophia takes a different approach to contextual advertising. Rather than attempting to build models of people on the internet, we look at the "meaning" of the content that is being read. Once we know the meaning of the content, and its basic "topics", Sophia makes it easy to find appropriate ads to display. 

Why does this work, and why is it a good thing? It is safe to assume that if someone has found a particular article on the internet and is reading it, that they have some interest in it, and would like more content on the same subject.

We'll have more to say about this in the coming weeks, so subscribe to this blog (or our social media feeds) to keep up on the latest news, or contact us today.

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Bill Roth is a Silicon Valley veteran with over 20 years in the industry. He has played numerous product marketing, product management and engineering roles at companies like BEA, Sun, Morgan Stanley, and EBay Enterprise. He was recently named one of the World's 30 Most Influential Cloud Bloggers.