I had an enjoyable conversation with Mark Redgrave recently, ahead of his company's unveiling of their 'meaning platform,' Amplify.
According to the Press Release,
"Amplify is a web service that brings human understanding to content. Amplify analyses content and returns its meaning in a usable and actionable structure. Amplify enables brands, advertisers and publishers to extract greater value from online content, allowing them to ensure brand safety and target more effectively.
By applying its meaning platform to the online advertising industry, Amplify can eliminate the guesswork in brand safety and targeting decisions. Using patented computational linguistics technology, Amplify enables publishers, social networks, ad networks and media agencies to automatically surface the significant topics, attitudes and pending decisions within any text. Whether to enhance existing targeting mechanisms, create a safe advertising environment or build brand specific products, Amplify provides the core foundation: the meaning of content."
Amplify is currently being tested by 'a couple of big Ad networks,' and an open API is expected in the New Year, which will enable web developers to call upon Amplify within their own applications. This will be free below a certain number of transactions, and chargeable for more intensive use.
There are a lot of companies in the NLP space, and a lot of those are like Hapax in recognising the opportunities for both Advertising and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Unlike less advanced solutions that might indiscriminately place advertising for a particular hotel chain on web pages mentioning hotels or cities where the chain has a presence, the emerging generation of NLP-backed solutions are more accurate. Do you want to prominently advertise your hotel on a page discussing crime at the location? Or on a site bemoaning the soulless nature of hotel chains such as yours?
As Redgrave commented,
"This is the missing part of the jigsaw - until now, online advertising has relied on making assumptions based on very limited data. Existing classification techniques such as keyword or statistical analysis provide only half the story as they're unable to capture the actual meaning. Amplify can now do this - not just accurately but also on a massive scale."
Sitting beneath Amplify - and almost all of its competitors - is an ontology. This provides Amplify with much of its understanding of the world, and captures the meanings and structures that it will use as the basis of interpreting any text it is given for analysis.
These ontologies tend to be painstakingly constructed, and there is currently very little evidence that companies are pooling their efforts in order to reduce duplication, cut costs, and produce more comprehensive shared offerings. I talked about this elsewhere, recently, and noted at the time that Redgrave was unusual in the readiness with which he recognised the need to pool effort on the general background information that every ontology probably starts out by defining.