As I’ve mentioned before, I think that advertising is an important part of making the Web work well: it helps developers and writers get paid, gives users more choice in how they support sites, and reinforces the shift in power to participatory users and small creators. But it also certainly has its problems, which I’ve been trying to get my head around.
As a relative newcomer to the world of online publishing and advertising, I’ve spent a lot of time working through the details and, as I like to do, organizing my thoughts with pictures. I put together a summary which seemed to help a few people I showed it to, so I figured I’d clean it up and put it out there for everyone to check out.
I have two main purposes in doing this:
(1) I’m hoping people who have more experience than me will help out with corrections, clarifications, and comments. I’m sure I’ve missed some things and misunderstood others, and I really want to make this as accurate and useful as possible for myself and others.
(2) Once it’s been subjected to scrutiny by real experts, I’d like to put these posts into a document that can be a resource for everyone. I know that when I was looking into this stuff, I immediately ran into a lot of confusing jargon and assumptions, and no single compact introduction to help clear it up. Hopefully this can help out the next person who comes along.
OK! So I’ll start with some introductory things, and then move on the meat of it in the next post.
—– Terminology —–
To keep things consistent, I’ll use the following terminology:
– User (AKA consumer): a person surfing the web
– Browser: the user’s web browser
– Publisher: a web site that wants to sell advertising space
– Advertiser (AKA marketer): a web site that wants to buy ads
– Ad network: a company who buys advertising space from publishers and sells it to advertisers
A “publisher” refers to any web site selling ad space, and so could be an application, service, or site that might not actually “publish content” in the traditional sense. An advertiser is assumed to have a web site, since most Web ads link to a site where the user can find more information, purchase a product, etc. Finally, note that a single web site might be both a publisher and an advertiser.
—– Scope —–
There’s a bunch of terms that are used to refer to the general activity of marketing and selling on the Internet, including:
– Interactive marketing
– Online marketing
– Internet advertising
Now, there’s a lot more to the Internet than just the Web, and there’s a lot more to marketing than just advertising; but here we’ll focus on the placement of ads on web pages (which should probably be called “Web advertising,” but for some reason nobody really seems to use this phrase). Interactive marketing in general has a more general scope, some aspects of which include:
– Email marketing: ads are emailed to the user
– Adware: ads are shown by a software application downloaded by the user
– Permission marketing: the user volunteers to receive ads, by email or otherwise
Email marketing sometimes takes place without obtaining user permission and/or providing the ability to stop receiving the ads, in which case it’s called spam. Adware sometimes collects data or displays ads without user consent, knowledge and/or the ability to uninstall, in which case it’s called spyware.
OK, with that all set, the next post will cover the basics in Part I: Advertisers and publishers.