Joe Kukura

Google-watchers and Silicon Valley gossip hounds have been buzzing for weeks over Google's impending switch to "semantic search." In the new algorithm, Google will show results based on how words relate to one another, as opposed to results based on the individual keywords themselves.

For Google, it's new and exciting territory. For some Internet advertising analysts, semantics in web content is old hat -- and they're probably wondering what took Google so long.

One such data analysis firm is Adsafe, primarily known as a brand protector. "We try to make sure an advertiser doesn't end up on a page they don't want to be, as opposed to just telling them after the fact where they ended up," Adsafe CEO Scott Knoll told Allvoices.

In other words, AdSafe red-flags certain riskier web pages before a brand's advertisement even shows up there. "There are a lot of pages on the web that have hate speech or profanity or pornography, where you as an advertiser do not want to be associated with that," Mr. Knoll said.

Adsafe employs a complex methodology that uses semantic filters to evaluate not just the text but the HTML code behind it, among other factors. Their use of semantic filters tips brands off to risky ad buys before companies make the purchase. "We focus on being preventative or making sure the ad never ends up on that page," Mr. Knoll said.

Semantic analysis doesn't just tip businesses off to risks -- it can help them find lucrative opportunities.

James Green is the CEO of Magnetic, a search retargeting firm. "If you search a pair of shoes, and you see a pair of shoes following you around the web, that might be our fault," Mr. Green said.

Magnetic customizes search data segments for their clients using semantic strategies. Doing so removes the unnecessary extra behavioral data and helps Magnetic put ads in front of the clients who are most willing to buy.

With the demonstrated results of firms like these, Google is finally buying semantics.

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