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Ads that Match a Web Page's Images

By Technology Review

July 23, 2010

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Web ads help subsidize free content and services, and have made Google into the behemoth it is today. But the software used to tailor them to a user's interests can only do this by analyzing the words on a webpage.

Qiang Yang at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology wants to change that. He has developed software able to select contextual ads based on the contents of images or videos on a page. Yang and colleagues from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China presented their work at the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Atlanta last week.

Many fast-growing parts of the Web, such as Facebook or Google's Picasa, are populated with user-generated images. They could become a rich advertising opportunity with the right technology, says Yang. "Many photos in online photo albums and video scenes do not have texts to describe them," he says. "People browsing through their own or others' online photo albums are a potential audience for adverts." Today, he says, it's impossible to reach people where there is no surrounding text.

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