Internet Advertising

Person clicking an ad on a tablet

Online advertising―a promotional and marketing tool delivering marketing messages via the Internet about products or services to attract specified customers―began in the mid-1990′s during the dot-com boom, and by 2001, estimates of online advertising revenue in the United States reached $7.1 billion dollars. With businesses closely related to online advertising, such as Google, experiencing enormous market value over the years (Google’s market value as of 2007 was $215 billion dollars), the online advertising industry is continuously growing, attracting the attention of advertisers as a more efficient and dynamic way to reach targeted consumers over traditional advertising.

Methods of Internet Marketing

There are several main methods in which marketing via the Internet is achieved. Broadly speaking, methods of online marketing can be classified into the following:

Display advertising: using banner ads on third-party websites and blogs to funnel website visitors to the advertising company’s website.

Search engine marketing: the promotion of websites via heightening their visibility on search engine results pages (e.g. Google results pages) through, for example, paid ad placements.

Search engine optimization: heightening the visibility of a website through an “organic” unpaid search result.

Social media marketing: getting the attention of customers, or web traffic, via social media sites such as Facebook.

Email marketing: the delivery of marketed messages via electronic mail.

Referral marketing: referring new customers to a service or product through word-of-mouth promotion.

Affiliate marketing: a company rewards a third-party website for every new visitor or customer that visits the company’s website via the third-party website.

Content marketing: a method of attracting customers through the creation of specific targeted content such as ebooks or blog articles.

Inbound marketing: the free dissemination of content in order to turn potential customers into buying customers, and buying customers into repeat-buyers.

Video marketing: the creation of video content which encourages viewers into a consumer-mindset, and then referring viewers to the product or service being promoted.

Approaches to Internet Marketing

There are four main approaches to online advertising. Firstly is the “one-to-one approach”, in which a marketer’s message is targeted specifically at a lone user, via keywords entered by the user into a search engine. A second approach is called “appeal to specific interests”, in which, rather than attending to a large demographic, a marketer will tailor messages to a specific age group, gender, etc. For example, if a user is searching for television sets, the search engine will then display ads relating to television sets. A third approach is called “niche marketing”, in which the marketer identifies a certain group of consumers as a more cost-effective method of reaching out to them. The niche method also concentrates on users most likely to purchase the product in question. Also, in conjunction with a search engine optimization method, the niche approach can heighten the probability that the niche will attend to the certain product or service. Finally, “geo-targeting” can be used as an effective Internet marketing approach by identifying the geographical location of a user (city, country, region, organization, IP address, etc.) in order to deliver messages that are tailored, and relevant, to the user’s physical location.

Advantages and Problems with Internet Marketing

One advantage of internet marketing is that it is relatively inexpensive, in comparison to traditional methods of marketing and advertising, in regard to the ability of internet marketing to reach a wider target audience. Also, the inherent nature of the internet allows users, once their attention is focused, to purchase products and services easily and securely. Furthermore, the results of any given internet marketing campaign can be quickly and cheaply determined, since nearly every facet of internet marketing can, via an ad-server, be followed, measured, and modified.

Regarding the problems with internet marketing, one major problem is privacy. Browsing history of users can be traced by advertisers through the use of, for example, third-party website cookies. Malware is another potential problem, and can be unethical and illegal. Malware operates via external applications―spyware, adware―tricking the user by masking the malware’s actual intent through the provision of an innocuous service such as weather forecast applications or offering the installation of a search bar, which often can be hard to uninstall from a computer. Furthermore, many users are concerned about buying products or services from the internet because they believe their personal information could be at risk, and companies that do indeed hold consumer private information are always vulnerable to hackers and data leaks. Further concerns with internet marketing are that there exist many deceptive promotions (scams), such as pyramid schemes, and additionally, the internet marketer is not able to personally interact with a consumer to influence the buying decision of the consumer, making the content of the ad the only point of contact between marketer and consumer.