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A survey of internet users highlights online advertising is largely inappropriate and irrelevant

A survey undertaken by Crystal Semantics, the context-targeting company, has revealed that 81 per cent of those questioned said they would be more inclined to click-through to an online advert if its subject matter was directly related to their search. However, many internet users are ignoring vast amounts of internet advertising because it bears no relation to their search. In fact, 46 per cent said that ads alongside results were bizarrely unrelated to the search. The value of website advertising rose by 60 per cent to £650million in 2004 in the UK and accounted for 3.9 per cent of all advertising (Interactive Advertising Bureau, April 2005).

Crystal Semantics surveyed a range of users about their experiences of internet searching. When it came to the way people felt towards specific types of advertising, pop-up advertising mostly infuriated people. The vast majority (82 per cent) of users indicated such methods as being the most intrusive and therefore has the potential to cause damage to the brand name.

When respondents were asked what advertising they would expect to find if they typed ‘hammer attack’ into a search engine most indicated that they would expect to find something related to either crime or no advertising at all. In fact, at the time the survey was conducted, eBay would appear to be ‘advertising’ your very own hammer attack for a bargain price! Nine percent of those asked were aware of these eBay related anomalies. Surprisingly, some of those who were asked recognised eBay as being one the more effective online advertisers. When asked about the most effective online advertising techniques, 33 per cent suggested banner advertising followed by 30 per cent for ads alongside search results.

Crystal Semantics has developed Textonomy Advance to help eradicate this problem. Powered by the world’s first ‘Sense Engine’, Textonomy Advance provides rapid contextual analysis of users’ search terms to identify the proper theme of each site and deliver the most relevant advertisements in an appropriate manner. Textonomy Advance analyses the content of a web page to identify not just the keywords, but the context in which they are presented, drawing upon human understanding of language to go beyond the basic methods or the inadequate mathematical algorithms currently used by search and contextual advertising technology.

Professor David Crystal, chairman of Crystal Semantics, said: “The results of this survey prove that there is plenty of scope to improve the way online advertising operates. Existing techniques provide too many poorly targeted results and are not providing value for money. What is clear is that if online advertisements are more applicable to a user’s needs, they are more likely to clickthrough and become a potential customer.”

To find out more about Crystal Semantics, visit


Notes to editors:

Full survey results

Have you ever clicked through on an online advert and made a direct purchase?
(a) Yes - 23%
(b) No - 77%

What type of online advertising do you think is most effective?
(a) Banner advertising - 33%
(b) Pop-up advertising - 4%
(c) Web page sponsorship - 21%
(d) Ads alongside search-engine results - 30%
(e) Video/audio advertising - 7%
(f) Other - 5%

What type of online advertising do you think is most infuriating?
(a) Banner advertising - 6%
(b) Pop-up advertising - 82%
(c) Web page sponsorship - 2%
(d) Ads alongside search-engine results - 3%
(e) Video/audio advertising - 5%
(f) Other - 2%

For what products/services would you be inclined to click-through on an online
(a) Clothes - 17%
(b) Furniture - 3%
(c) Toys - 2%
(d) Electrical goods - 28%
(e) Food - 3%
(f) Computer hardware/software - 8%
(g) Cars 0%
(h) Holidays - 25%
(I) Other - 13% (inc 6% Music/CDs)

Do you ever see adverts alongside search-engine results that are bizarrely unrelated to
your search term?
(a) Yes - 46%
(b) No - 54%

Would you be more inclined to click-through on an online advert if its subject matter was
directly linked to the page/search you were viewing?
(a) Yes - 81%
(b) No - 19%

If you typed 'hammer attack' into a search engine, what would you expect the online
advertising to relate to?
(a) An auction for your own hammer attack on eBay - 9%
(b) The Police - 21%
(c) Crimestoppers - 13%
(d) Black & Decker - 12%
(e) MC Hammer - 17%
(f) There would be no associated advertising - 16%
(g) Other - 12%

About Crystal Semantics (
Crystal Semantics has developed Textonomy, the first Sense Engine to deliver significantly more accurate and powerful Internet search and contextual results. By applying human "senses" and concepts that current algorithms, semantic systems and other statistical techniques cannot match, Textonomy uniquely uses human linguistic intuition, tapping into the semantic relationships between words and the contexts in which they occur. The Textonomy suite of products includes solutions for search and navigation, e-commerce and contextual advertising.

Based in Holyhead, UK, Crystal Semantics is a division of Crystal Reference Systems Limited – a context targeting company. The company was founded in 2001 by Professor David Crystal, a world authority in linguistics, and managing director, Ian Saunders. It has provided online content for many major publishers including Penguin Books, A&E Television Networks and Webster Publishing and is one of the fastest growing online content publishers in Europe.

Further information

UK & Europe
Alex Crawshaw / David Pincott, Pirate Communications

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