How will Google's Knowledge Graph affect SEM?

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Google knows
Google knows

Google launched on May 16 its Knowledge Graph, which allows users to search for things, people and places that “Google knows about” and “instantly get information that is relevant to your query,” according to a blog post by Amit Singhal, SVP of engineering at Google.

The project began in 2010 when Google acquired Metaweb Technologies, a Google spokesperson said, which was working on the Freebase Project, described as “an entity graph of people places and things, created by a community that loves open data” on the website.  

Knowledge Graph, according to Singhal's blog entry, enhances Google Search in three ways: it makes searches more relevant, gives users better summaries of searches and helps users discover new things based on what others are searching.

The Knowledge Graph shows up on the right hand side, but only for particular items that are in the Knowledge Graph, which have been collectively pulled together from Google Search users. The Knowledge Graph has begun to gradually roll out to US English users. When it pops up is similar to how Google Maps pops up sometimes if your search is related to a particular address.  

The Google spokesperson said the Knowledge Graph does not have any particular effect on search marketing and display ads will still be shown when they are relevant.

On first glance, it seems as if advertisers may be missing out on the opportunity to show relevant ads to consumers based on searches. The amount of space Knowledge Graph takes up on the right side of a page—at least based on the blog post's images—looks like prime advertising space. However, perhaps—as MediaWhiz's general manager of search Adam Riff points out, this is a great way for advertisers to only display ads to relevant consumers and really zero in on exactly the type of people they're trying to target. Ultimately, brands won't have to pay for ads that aren't.

Even though Google indicated Knowledge Graph would affect search marketing, the company spokesperson gave an example that underscores Riff's point. For instance, if you search for the word “king,” you might get the sports team (either basketball or hockey), a television show, or a historical figure. But Burger King ads won't appear. Better targeting will create better value for display ads.

JoAnn DeLuna is the digital reporter at
Direct Marketing News.

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