How ‘Information Destruction’ Hobbles Digital Marketing

What unites your audience? It’s a basic question, and if you’ve done research or run campaigns in the past, you may think that you have an answer. But, there's an important follow-up: how have you been identifying your audience? Do you know exactly how your target users are profiled?

The old way: category-based profiling

Traditional user profiling isolates a user event (e.g. a page visit), and assigns it a category. For example, if a user visits a page about buying an SUV, the category assigned would be “automotive."

As you may have noticed, there’s an issue here. From the description of the page alone, “automotive” is but one of the attributes that we might assign to this event. And that’s before we’ve even analyzed the content in depth! What’s happening here is called information destruction – and it’s the largest source of entropy in the world of user profiling. We have a baseline term associated with this event, but the meaning is lost in the processing of the data.

Semantic Profiling: the new way

Categorization of user events serves an important purpose, enabling the processing of millions of events to construct target audiences consisting of large numbers of users. It’d be great if we could have real human beings reading and summarizing every page of content on the web, but that’s simply not realistic.

Enter Semantic Profiling. Using natural language processing (NLP), a discipline in machine learning, Semasio's technology extracts the most significant terms and phrases from each piece of content consumed by a user. 

Looking back to our example, a semantic profile of this event might include such terms as “station wagon,” “fuel efficiency," “family," “children," “practical," and “safety rating." And that’s all just from one event.

Adding it up

Go back and think about your past target audiences – now imagine you had the benefits of semantic profiling when building these targets, and could adjust them in real time as your campaigns evolve. It’s data that works smarter for you, and it’s the next frontier for digital targeting.


Author: David Abravanel

Marketing consultant for Semasio with a passion for all things data, emerging tech, and electronic music. NYC-based.
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