What is internet marketing?

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The Internet has dramatically changed the way information is shared, and this has had a profound impact on marketing. This branch is called internet marketing.

Internet marketing (also known as Internet advertising, online advertising, or online marketing) refers to the form of advertising and marketing that serves consumers promotional marketing messages via the Internet.

Online advertising often takes place between an advertiser (who provides advertisements) and a publisher (who embeds the advertisements into their website). They are often accompanied by advertising agencies (in charge of generating and placing the ad copies), an ad server (responsible for the technological delivery of the ads and the tracking of statistics), and advertising affiliates (who independently promote the advertisements against a commission).

Internet marketing and online advertising techniques are often used in association with offline (traditional) means of advertising like newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.

Delivery methods of internet marketing

Internet marketing messages are delivered through the following ways:

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1. Adware: This is a software which automatically displays advertisements on a user’s computer. The ads may appear in the software itself, integrated into web pages visited by the user, or in pop-ups/pop-unders. The adware should never be installed without the user’s permission, as it then becomes a sort of malware.

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2. Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing, also sometimes referred to as lead generation, is when advertisers sign up third parties to generate potential customers for them. The third-party Affiliate marketers generate traffic to offers they’ve got from affiliate networks, and when visitors take certain actions such as email submission, making a phone call, filling out an online form, or completing an online order, the affiliate earns a commission.

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3. Chat advertising: Chat advertising is a subset of email advertising but different because of its time window. Here, the operating personnel behind the live chat software or tracking applications installed within certain websites drops real time adverts on the traffic surfing around the sites.

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4. Content Marketing: Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and distribution of valuable, relevant and consistent content in order to acquire and retain customers. This information can be presented in many formats, such as blogs, news, video, white papers, e-books, infographics, case studies, and how-to guides using strategies such as social media, articles on a business’s website, eNewsletters, case studies, videos and articles on other websites.

As consumers are overwhelmed by a barrage of advertisements, content should be made easily and quickly digestible. The rapid rise to success of Buzzfeed and Pinterest attests to the power and viral potential of image-based content. While traditional text-based content may not ever completely lose its appeal, it’s pretty clear that incorporating images into it will enhance a marketing campaign.

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5. Display advertising: Display advertising uses text, logos, animations, videos, photographs, or other graphics to convey the advertising message.

By recurring to cookies to decide which ads the target viewed on earlier visits, the advertiser can later retarget the user with ads from the site the user visited.

With only two percent of web traffic converting on the first visit, reminding consumers of the product or service they viewed earlier on helps in increasing the overall conversion rate. Even psychological studies have shown that simply exposing viewers to brand names and logos makes them familiar with it, which leads to trust and makes them more likely to make a purchase one day.

Through behavioural advertising based on an aggregation of data collected on a user across multiple external sites, contextual and semantic advertising can be used to serve display ads similar to the content of the page the user is viewing.

Advertisers may also use geo-targeting, a user’s IP address, a phone’s GPS receiver, refined with other proxies or information, to narrow the range of possible locations to deliver ads based on a user’s geographical location.

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6. Ecommerce: Selling on a website exclusively dedicated to business offers many advantages over traditional business models, the most obvious being lower overheads and the possibility to reach wider audiences. You can also improve customer service by allowing customers to make purchases directly from your website. But it’s a highly competitive world and to be effective, small firms have to be on top of their game. Everything from website design and search engine optimisation to pay-per-click advertising and safe payment methods must be spot on.

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7. Email advertising: Email advertising is ad copy delivered as an entire email message or just a part of it to present and potential customers. Email ads may be sent unsolicited or with the recipient’s prior consent (opt-in). In either case, the sender gives the recipient an option to unsubscribe at any time.

Email is ideal for making offers, responding to queries, providing customer support, and driving traffic to your website. The advantages of email marketing are lower costs, higher response rates than traditional marketing mailings, and it is easy to track responses to see what works and what does not to enable you tweak your emails to increase response rates.

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8. Expanding ad: A rich media frame ad, an expanding ad changes size in accordance with a predefined condition, which could be a preset amount of time a visitor spends on a webpage, a click on the ad, or moving the mouse over the ad. This ad allows advertisers to give more information in a restricted ad space.

9. Floating ad: Also called an overlay ad, this rich media advertisement is displayed over the requested website’s content. It is often found to be obtrusive. However after some time, the ads disappear or become less troublesome.

10.Frame ad: Website publishers incorporate this first form of web banners on a dedicated space on their web page. The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Ad Unit Guidelines proposes standardized pixel dimensions for ad units.

11. Interstitial: If you request a content and an ad shows up before your content or while you are waiting for the content to load, then you are being served an interstitial ad. These ads are a form of interruption marketing since they precede your content.

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12. Mobile advertising: Mobile advertising is ad copy delivered through wireless mobile devices such as smartphones, feature phones, or tablet computers. Mobile advertising may be in the form of static or rich media display ads, SMS (Short Message Service) or MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) ads, mobile search ads, advertising within mobile websites, or ads within mobile applications or games (such as interstitial ads [see 11 above], “advergaming,” or application sponsorship).

Mobile advertising is making giant strides because of the ever increasing use of mobile devices by consumers, improvement in connectivity speeds, progress in screen resolutions, and also because mobile publishers are becoming more sophisticated about incorporating ads. Growth in mobile advertising is predicted to continue with the adoption of location-based targeting and other technological features not possible with personal computers. According to Forbes, “87% of connected devices sales by 2017 will be tablets and smartphones.”.

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13. News Feed Ads: “News Feed Ads” are also called “Sponsored Stories” or “Boosted Posts”. They are usually advertisements inserted into normal, ordinary news that the users are reading through on Social Media Sites that offer a steady stream of information updates (“news feed”) in regulated formats (i.e. in similar sized small boxes with a uniform style).

The advertisements, which can be about promoting a website, a fan page, an app, or a product, are the “sponsored Stories” found on Facebook, LinkedIn’s “Sponsored Updates”, and what Twitter labels “Promoted Tweets”.

News Feed Ads yield much higher click-through rates than traditional display ads because unlike banner ads which can be distinguished from the ads and therefore avoided, News Feed Ads’ format blends smoothly into non-paid news updates and prove irresistible.

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14. Online classified advertising: This is advertising posted online in a categorical listing of specific products or services. We can cite online job boards, online real estate listings, automotive listings, online yellow pages, and online auction-based listings. Craigslist and eBay are two classical examples of online classified listings.

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15. Online marketing platform: An online marketing platform (OMP) is an integrated web-based platform that combines the best of a business directory, local search engine, search engine optimisation (SEO) tool, customer relationship management (CRM) package and content management system (CMS).

While Ebay and Amazon function as online marketing and logistics management platforms, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other Social Media, are used for retail online marketing and Marketo, Aprimo, MarketBright and Pardot serve as business marketing platforms.

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16. Pop-ups/pop-unders: While a pop-up ad shows in a new web browser window that opens above a website visitor’s initial browser window, a pop-under ad on the other hand opens a new browser window under a website visitor’s initial browser window.

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17. Search engine marketing (SEM): Search engine marketing, or SEM, includes all of an advertiser’s actions to make a website’s listing feature more prominent for topical keywords on search engines. As such, it serves to increase a website’s rank and consequently its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).

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18. Search engine optimization (SEO): Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a technique used to improve a website’s organic search rankings in SERPs by improving the website’s content’s relevance to search terms. SEO services can be obtained from many vendors.

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19. Social media marketing: Social media marketing is commercial promotion (including viral marketing) done on social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.

You can promote your products by posting frequent updates and providing special offers through your social media profiles. You may also set out your stall, demonstrate your expertise and build relationships with customers, prospects and suppliers. Above all social media advertising enables you to promote yourself and your business widely, drive traffic back to your website and thus boost sales. Consequently, it has become common for businesses to branch out and experiment with multiple networks with the aim of reaching the maximum amount of consumers.

Concerning social signals, being one of the three pillars of SEO, it’s clear that they play a role in organic search rankings these days.

The goal of the search engines being to provide users with the most relevant and highest quality content, the more people that are sharing some content on the social media, the more relevant and the higher quality it’s likely to be, and consequently the higher its rank should be within the search engine results pages.

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20. Sponsored search: Sponsored search also known as sponsored links, search ads, or paid search, includes advertisers in the sponsored results of a search for certain keywords. Such ads are usually sold through real-time auctions. Bidding by advertisers on keywords may include such constraints as a maximum price per keyword, time, language, geographical, and others. While listings were formerly sold in order of highest bids, now search engines rank sponsored listings on a combination of bid price, expected click-through rate, keyword relevancy and site quality.

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21. Text ads: A text ad displays text-based hyperlinks. They may display independently of a web page’s primary content, or you may embed them into a websites by hyperlinking each word or phrase. You may also use email marketing or text message marketing to deliver them. Two advantages of text-based ads are that they often show up faster than graphical ads and usually escape blocking by ad-blocking software.

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22. Trick banners: Trick banners are a form of bait-and-switch since the ad’s copy imitates some common screen element like an operating system message or a popular application message to entice people to click on the ad. Second, the advertiser is usually mentioned only after the user has clicked the initial ad.

The bait enables such ads to attract a higher-than-average click-through rate, but the switched side makes users sometimes feel tricked and resent the advertiser for deceiving them.

23. Web banner advertising: From a central ad server, Web banners or banner ads, which are usually graphical ads, are displayed within a web page.

With rich media, banner ads incorporate video, audio, animations, buttons, forms, or other interactive elements using Java applets, HTML5, Adobe Flash, etc.

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24. Website marketing: Through your URL, potential customers can find your website where you can showcase your work. But the marketing opportunities that the internet presents for websites go much further than that. For instance, you can tell visitors about your product or service and promote special offers to them. You can also improve customer relations by providing customers with useful information and enabling them to offer feedback.

Blog posts that receive the most social shares are those sprinkled with some well-placed images to break content up and highlight some points. Therefore website marketing will benefit from using images with content. Another useful tactic is infographics, a combination of images with a minimal amount of text to explain a topic and provide statistical information or data from research studies.

Compensation methods of internet marketing

Advertisers and publishers resort to a wide range of payment calculation methods in internet marketing. Some of them are:

1. CPC (cost per click): In CPC (Cost per Click) and PPC (Pay per click) advertisers pay when a user clicks on the ad. Although CPC advertising gets visitors to an advertiser’s site, it shows less accurate results for advertisers who want to build brand awareness. However CPC has eclipsed CPM to capture two-thirds of the share of all online advertising compensation methods.

As with impressions, not all recorded clicks serve the interests of advertisers. For example, GoldSpot Media found that some 50% of clicks on static mobile banner ads are accidental. This made the redirected visitors to leave the new sites immediately.

2. CPE (cost per engagement): Cost per engagement goes further to track not just that an ad loaded on the page (i.e., an impression was served), but also that the viewer actually saw and/or interacted with the ad.

3. CPM (cost per mille): Mille is the Latin word for thousand. So CPM (Cost per mille) signifies that advertisers pay for every thousand displays of their message to potential customers. Such displays are usually called “impressions” in the online context. Some impressions which don’t represent a new exposure to an actual customer may not be charged.

While advertisers can resort to technologies such as web bugs to verify if an impression was really delivered, publishers strive to increase page views by with techniques as spreading content across multiple pages, repurposing someone else’s content, using sensational titles, or publishing tabloid or sexual content.

CPM advertising is susceptible to “impression fraud,” and advertisers who want visitors to their sites may not find per-impression payments a good proxy for the results they desire.

4. CPV (cost per view): This is for video advertising. Since Google and TubeMogul endorsed this standardized CPV metric to the IAB’s (Interactive Advertising Bureau) Digital Video Committee, it’s gaining increased support in the industry.

Other performance-based compensations are:

5. CPA (Cost Per Action): CPA (Cost Per Action) also known as Cost Per Acquisition or PPP (Pay Per Performance) advertising is when the advertiser pays for the number of users who carry out a suggested activity, for example, completing a purchase or filling out a registration form. Where revenue sharing features as a part of performance-based compensation, publishers earn a percentage of the advertiser’s profits made from the ad. As the name suggests, any failure in performance-based compensation falls squarely on publishers.

6. Fixed cost: In fixed cost compensation advertisers pay a harmonized amount for the delivery of ads online, usually over a specified time period, whether the ad was visible or users responded to it or not. In CPD (cost per day) for example, advertisers pay a fixed cost for publishing an ad for a day irrespective of impressions served or clicks recorded.

The secrets of online marketing success

There are four ingredients to follow to have marketing success online. They are:

1. Creating valuable relationships with your visitors: Rather than always trying to attract new customers, create a lasting relationship with your existing readers and customers. That will develop customer loyalty and keep them coming back for more. Besides, they will “spread the word” for you. Incidentally word-of-mouth advertising is the best for any organisation. So have consummate respect for your audience and your market. Focus almost obsessively on their needs, almost “to the detriment” of yours. If you satisfy their needs, readers and customers will patronise your content and products and finally you’ll get what you want.

2. Sticking to traditional copywriting techniques: Stay abreast of the latest social media trends but don’t forget to use solid copywriting techniques. This can make all the difference between a business or blog that drags along and one that really flies.

The old copyrighting technique starts with a killer headline, moves strategically through the copy and ends with a stirring call to action. This does magic in social media.

3. Content marketing: Begin with delivering great content. Continue doing it, but in a strategic and focused manner. From time to time, make your readers a great offer that benefits them and helps you make some money.

4. Offering your readers something of value: Whatever you’re selling, be it a product, a service, a download, an idea, or a worthy cause, let it be worth more to your buyers than the money they will give in return.

Advantages of online marketing

Advertising online has many advantages, among which:

1. Low cost: Online advertisements are cheaper than offline ones because of the low cost of electronic communication. Online advertising, and especially one done on social media, enables advertisers to engage with large established communities at a minimal cost. Not only are the costs low but also an advertiser obtains better returns online than offline.

2. Vast coverage: Not only does online advertising reach nearly every global market, but also online advertising can help offline sales.

3. Divers formats: In online advertising, advertisers have a wide variety of ways to deliver their promotional messages, such as images, video, audio, and links. Online ads can also be interactive, such as enabling users to input queries or letting them follow the advertiser on social media. They can even incorporate games.

4. Measurable data: Online advertising easily permits the collection of data on the various aspects of an ad such as the size of the potential audience, how a visitor reached their advertisement, whether an ad actually loaded within a visitor’s view, how the audience reacted, whether the advertisement resulted in a sale or not. Judging the ad’s effectiveness helps online advertisers improve their ad campaigns over time.

5. Speed: Since the delivery of an online ad is not linked to the publisher’s publication schedule as in offline ones, once designed, it can be deployed immediately. Also if an online ad is found to be totally unsatisfactory or lacking in some aspect, the ad copy can be replaced or modified more rapidly than an offline one.

6. Targeted advertising: Publishers can enable advertisers reach customizable and narrow market segments for targeted advertising. Through geo-targeting, relevant ads can be displayed to a user’s geographical location. Advertisers can customize an ad to match particular user’s preferences. Tracking ads already seen by a viewer, the advertiser can reduce unwanted repetitious exposures and provide adequate time gaps between exposures.

7. Others: One can view ads anywhere on one’s mobile phone, and interact with the ad and even sign up to it. An ad viewer can buy a product or service right on the ad. They can also reply to an ad or even opt out of it. The viewer can furthermore decide what to see, when to see it and how to see it.

N.B.: Two heads are better than one: As ingredients, no one of relationships with your visitors, traditional copywriting techniques, content marketing, and offering your readers and customers something great, is greater than the other. They must be used together to ensure you a resounding marketing success.

Concerns of online marketing

Internet marketing is not without its problems. Prominent among them are:

1. Banner blindness: Eye-tracking studies have demonstrated that Internet users are subject to a phenomenon sometimes called “banner blindness”. This means that they are susceptible to miss web page zones where ads are typically displayed. While this also happens in offline media, it is worse in the online. Fortunately other studies have stated that even though passed over, those ads may still influence the user subconsciously.

2. Fraud on the advertiser: There are numerous ways that advertisers can be overcharged for their advertising. Some of them are:

a. Click fraud: click fraud can occur in several ways. For example when:

– a publisher or other parties use manual or automated means to click on a CPC ad without any intention whatsoever to fulfil the ad’s objective

– publishers attempt to produce revenue

– an advertiser clicks on a competitor’s ads just to run down their advertising budget

– websites launch dozens of hidden pages on a visitor’s computer, making the visitor’s computer click on hundreds of paid links without the visitor’s knowledge

b. Online impression fraud: Online impression fraud can occur when publishers inflate the number of ad impressions they have delivered to their advertisers.

Difficulties of online marketing

Certain circumstances can be a hindrance to the delivery of online marketing or even interrupt it altogether. Some of them are:

1. Ad-blocking: Ad-blocking, or ad filtering, occurs when people resort to technology to screen out ads and thus prevent them from appearing. Many browsers block unsolicited pop-up ads by default. Other software programs or browser add-ons may also prevent ads from loading, or stop elements on a page having behaviours characteristic of ads (e.g. HTML autoplay of both audio and video).

2. Anti-targeting technologies: Some web browsers come with privacy modes allowing users to hide their information from publishers and advertisers. Also, advertisers are thwarted from using cookies to serve targeted ads to people using private browsers. Thirdly, most major browsers have Do Not Track options inserted into their browser headers, but the regulations currently are only enforced by the honor system.

3. Miscellaneous devices: The differences in operating systems, web browsers, computer hardware, mobile devices, and screen sizes may make online ads appear to users differently from the way the advertiser conceived them. Worse, the ads may not display properly at all.

This is what a 2012 comScore study found, stating that, on average, 31% of ads rendered were not “in-view”, that is, they could not be seen. Rich media ads engender even greater compatibility problems, as some developers may use competing (and exclusive) software to serve the ads (see e.g. Comparison of HTML 5 and Flash).

4. Danger of falling foul of the law: Advertisers may encounter legal problems if legally required information doesn’t display to users, even if that failure is due to sundry equipment used by the viewers. Guidelines released by the FTC in the United States makes it clear that it is the advertisers’ responsibility to ensure the ads display any required disclosures or disclaimers, no matter the users’ technology.

Collateral effects of online marketing

Damages not thought or wished by advertisers sometimes accompany online marketing. Some of the unwanted circumstances are:

1. Privacy concerns: The collection of user information by publishers and advertisers has made consumers raise concerns about their privacy. Gallup found that over half of Google and Facebook users are not comfortable about their privacy when using Google and Facebook.

Advertisers often resort to technology, such as web bugs and re-spawning cookies, to better track consumers. But according to a 2011 survey conducted by Harris Interactive, many Internet users did not appreciate online behavioural advertising, and a lesser number suspected that their personally-identifiable information had been sold to advertisers without their consent. Consumers especially abhor advertisers targeting them based on their sensitive information, such as financial or health status.

2. Weakening of confidence in advertisers: Scammers can resort to artifices like phishing (which are scam emails but look as if coming from a well-known brand owner) and confidence schemes like the Nigerian “419” scam. Since once bitten twice shy, this can make receivers wary of business email, even from a credible source.

Malware risks, i.e. malvertising, are also some of the problems consumers face when interacting with online advertising. Cisco’s 2013 Annual Security Report said that clicking on ads put you at 182 times more at risk to have a virus installed on your computer than surfing the Internet for porn.

3. Spam: The low cost of delivering online marketing message on the Internet has been a boon for spam, enabling large-scale spammers to have a field day. Unfortunately, efforts to fight against spam, such as blacklists, regulatory-required labelling, and content filters, have only led to adverse collateral effects, such as mistaken filtering.

Regulation of online marketing

1. Privacy and data collection: Privacy concerns can require a user’s consent before an advertiser can track or communicate with them. Unfortunately, affirmative consent (“opt in”) can be difficult and expensive to obtain.

Different jurisdictions have treated privacy issues with advertising differently. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission supports self-regulation by the online marketing industry, yet does not neglect enforcement of actions in regards to privacy and security. The FTC has also been working for industry consensus for a Do Not Track legislation.

But the European Union’s “Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive” restricts the extensive use of consumer data by websites. The EU limitations restrict targeting by online advertisers.

Delivery methods

Many laws particularly regulate the ways online ads are delivered. For example, online advertising delivered by email is more regulated than the same ad content delivered via banner ads. Among other restrictions, the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires that any commercial email offer an opt-out mechanism. Similarly, mobile advertising is governed by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA), which (among other restrictions) requires user opt-in before sending advertising via text messaging.

This is just the beginning of Internet marketing on this website. I will be writing more about matters treated cursorily here and about others not handled at all. Meanwhile, if you want to add your voice to the discussion or suggest a facet of internet marketing you would like to know more about, just tell me in the comment box below or contact me on my Wealthy Affiliate Profile. I will be more than happy to

serve you.

Akoli
Your personal guide to securing your future online

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