Adchemy Aims to Overhaul Search Engine Marketing By Killing the Keyword

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it’s been developing since 2004. Nukala hatched the original idea with co-founder Rajeev Motwani, the Stanford professor who advised Sergey Brin and Larry Page and co-authored the PageRank paper that catapulted Google to fame and fortune. (Motwani perished in 2009 in a drowning accident.) But for a long time, the technology was a solution in search of a problem: the company’s first idea, after spending about three years in stealth mode, was to see if it could help companies find the right audience segments for display ads and other forms of brand marketing. It called the practice “audience relationship management,” but it never really took off. More recently, Adchemy has focused on using intent maps to make SEM more effective.

The fundamental insight behind intent maps is this: while people are endlessly inventive when it comes to phrasing search queries, their questions can be boiled down to a much smaller number of basic intents. So what was needed to simplify the SEM problem was a way to save advertisers from having to divine millions of keywords and write the copy for millions of separate ads; a way, in Nukala’s words, to “productize search.”

And as the former senior vice president of enterprise products at, Nukala knows something about productization. “Back in the days of the first comparison shopping sites, you would crawl five sites and bring back five deals,” he says. “The hard problem was knowing that all of the deals were about one product.” That problem is called productization—and intent maps are just a way of productizing search queries. “The keyword space is unbounded and therefore mind-numbing in its complexity,” says Nukala. “Intent is finite and bounded, which is what makes it manageable.”

Adchemy’s patented WordMap software—its name for intent maps as applied to SEM—is essentially a new front end for AdWords, or, put another way, a giant filter that identifies intents and then translates them back into something AdWords can work with (that is, keywords). It works like this: A new Adchemy client feeds its entire catalog into the system, along with its website, its query logs (the record of searches people have used to find its pages in the past), its past AdWords keywords—essentially, all the data it has relating to its products. Adchemy’s natural language processing software then goes to work, picking out categories and themes, identifying the relationships between them, and generally reducing the mess to something manageable.

“We’ve seen there is approximately a 300- to 1000-fold reduction in the number of artifacts you have to manage when you go from keywords to intent,” says Nukala. “Three million keywords goes down to 3,000 intents.”

WordMap can then go on to automatically generate thousands or millions of fresh keywords specifically related to the intents. It can also create the copy for thousands of distinct ads by dropping the new keywords into templates written by the user, sort those ads into groups according to intent, and assign the appropriate keywords to each ad group. In the end, the client has a giant set of optimized ads and keywords ready to be dumped into its bid management system, which in turn dumps them into AdWords. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that WordMap can also … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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8 responses to “Adchemy Aims to Overhaul Search Engine Marketing By Killing the Keyword”

  1. Alex Buds says:

    Well, if you just use the Product Listing Ads service which Google offers, you don’t need to worry about keywords – Google already has an algorithm to take care of that. You just upload a feed of your products.

    I really don’t see what this adds to the experience beyond possible a more attractive interface.

  2. Cee says:

    If you didn’t see it for yourself, you have no idea how extensive Adchemy’s software is. To say the least, if you would have known about and attended one of their webinars, you’d probably still be picking your jaw off of the floor. There’s a *really, realy, really, really, really good* reason why super giant, Walmart (actually, @WalmartLabs) bought the company.

    Now look out Walmart competitors! Those of you running ad campaigns in excess of $50k per month (Adchemy’s requirement) that could afford Adchemy services are no longer privy to such amazing “blow your mind” user intent search results… so lookout! When they beat the pants off of you in search, just kick yourselves for not thinking about making the acquisition yourselves!
    It’s been 4 years since I witnessed the coolest search software I’ve ever seen in action, and I’m still in awe of what it can do. Unbelievable! Really. {smdh} Simply un-freaking believable – what that software can do!