Adchemy Aims to Overhaul Search Engine Marketing By Killing the Keyword

7/19/11Follow @wroush

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generate landing pages corresponding to all the new ads. So you still have lots of keywords and landing pages to manage, but at least Adchemy is generating and managing them for you, turning SEM back into human-scale problem.

Adchemy, which has collected about $58 million in venture funding from August Capital, Mayfield Fund, Accenture, and a variety of individual investors, has two ways of profiting from its intent map technology. One is called Adchemy Actions; it’s a “performance marketing” business in which the company uses its own system to create and place ads designed to generate sales leads for its clients, which include auto insurance companies, online universities, and mortgage lenders.

Nukala says Adchemy Actions gives the company a way to “eat our own dog food and make sure the software works before we sell it.” More recently, Adchemy has opened up the intent platform itself to outside companies as a Web-based service. Nukala says the target customers for this product are the largest 4,000 e-commerce companies, including retailers, insurers, and financial services companies—any company with a complex set of products to advertise.

Does Google know or care about the keyword problem that created an opening for Adchemy? In fact, it does: to spare advertisers from having to anticipate every keyword a search user might use to describe a concept, it offers a partial solution called “broad match.” When AdWords customers activate broad match, the AdWords system will automatically run ads for keywords that are variants of an advertisers’ original keywords—a seller of tulips, for example, might also see his ad show up on search result pages for the keyword “flowers.”

But as you might expect, Nukala isn’t too excited about broad match. “We think broad match is a bad thing,” he says; it’s a “symptom of a problem,” meaning the difficulty of manually composing effective keywords. In the long run, he says, even Google will be forced to switch over from keyword-based ad auctions to intent-based advertising—mainly because people keep coming up with new ways to ask for things.

“In any given month, 20 percent of search queries are unique queries that have never been seen in the history of search,” says Nukala. “If consumers are constantly changing how they express keywords, how many would you have to bid on so that you would never miss a keyword? The answer is it’s infinite—which is a silly model. We think it’s time for a change.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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