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Online Advertising

Now a major factor in corporate success, how to get the most our of your site

Advertising online has become a serious alternative to press and broadcast media in most countries. Currently, in the US alone, online advertising revenue is positioned between cable television and broadcast television (43 billion dollars in 2013).

Online advertising has the advantage for the advertiser that promotions can be targeted to specific users and sites, whereas the exposure in printed and broadcast media, TV and radio, remain generic, and all readers/viewers and listeners are exposed to the same promotions.

The main players in the online marketing business are:

Publishers

These are site managers. Advertising is most likely a minor income earner, since very high traffic flows are required to obtain significant advertising income. Unless a site has a 'captive audience', it is unlikely to achieve high rates if the purpose is advertising income, and not core content.

'Captive audience' is our term for traffic which is obliged to use the site. These might be students and staff of educational institutions, employees and clients of large companies, or monopolies of internet software and services who enjoy a dominating role within the operating system and software update leagues.

Given that indiscriminate and tasteless, distracting advertising will have a detrimental effect on user experience quality, publishers need to evaluate advertising within the context of an overall marketing and corporate image maintenance.

Target Audience

Probably the most significant advantage of online advertising is the ability to identify and log/track users individually. This is not possible with traditional media, such as newspapers and TV, whose users are exposed to every ad whether it is targeted to them or not.

Paid search results, as opposed to organic returns to SERPs, therefore target site promotions according to the searchers' keywords while they search. Viewers of a site may receive a cookie, which can be used to further fine-tune the targeting of advertising, on both search engine interfaces and on sites using the AdSense system.

Affiliate Network

The equivalent of the traditional advertising agency, the affiliates are the middlemen between advertisers and publishers. Affiliates allow advertisers to select parameters, such as keywords and themes, and offer them options for advertising types (in order of decreasing conversion rates): PPI (pay per impression), PPC (pay per click), or CPA (cost per action).

PPI

Pay per Impression, or CPI (cost per impression), or CPM (cost pro mille). A simple pro rata payment scheme, where advertisers pay a fixed amount for a number of views, known as impressions. A typical rate is $5 per thousand impressions.

PPC

Pay per Click, or CPC (cost per click). If the publisher and affiliate can guarantee that prominant ads are relevant to the content subject and target audience, then an effective way to advertise is to pay only if the visitor actually clicks through on the ad. With this form of advertising, the publisher needs to ensure the relevance of the ad, otherwise he is permitting impressions for third parties that pay him nothing.

CPA

Cost per Action, or PPS (pay per sale or lead). The advertiser pays only if the appearance of the ad, and subsequent click-through actually leads to a sale or other action, such as a sign-up/subscription. Again, the publisher will be concerned that he is not providing free impressions, so will want to verify the legitimacy of the advertiser's product and set-up. Large, well-known brands are more likely to be accepted for this type of advertising.

Standards and Oversight Bodies

Issues related to online advertising:

  • How do affiliates count the impressions and click-throughs
  • Affiliates organise ads and deliver them technically to publisher sites. They also collect statistics on impressions and click-throughs and charge clients and pay publishers accordingly. They can track and count the ads going out from their ad server.

  • Cheating
  • There are cheats who attempt to enhance their income by running programmes (robots) which cause non-human viewed impressions or click-throughs, which are valueless to the advertiser.

  • How much control do publishers have over the ads which appear on their sites?
  • Some sites may need to restrict certain types of undesirable advertising, which does not suit their site image and target audience. Google's Adsense and other ad selecting methods may not adequately adjust the allocation of ads, and the publisher may need to intervene. The account they have with the affiliate may allow them to select or block certain keywords and specific advertisers, but this needs to be done actively, and be constantly reviewed. Publishers need to be aware that there remains a lot of scope for inappropriate material to come through.

  • Losing control of website content
  • Due to personalisation of web usage, it is very difficult to see exactly how a page appears to other users. Every internet user has a unique set of geographic location, language, and past behaviour (determined by cookies and URL tracking). Ads are targeted to them and the publisher has no means of telling how their site appears to all users everywhere.

Forms of Online Advertsing

  • Banner
  • Frame ad
  • Pop-up
  • In-Text link ad
  • Expanding ad
  • Floating ad
  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Sponsored Search
  • Interstitial
  • SMM (Social Media Marketing)
  • Trick banner
  • Mobile advertising
  • Adware
  • Content Marketing: the creation and sharing of media and published content to gain new clients. The formats can be blogs, news items, video, PDF docs, etc.

Article by Andrew Bone, March 7, 2016

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