What is online advertising?

Online Advertising refers to using websites and other online venues as an advertising medium. In other words, adverts on the Internet. In online advertising, promotional messages appear on the screens of online laptops, desktops, tablets, smart TVs, and smartphones. This type of advertising has existed for about twenty-five years, i.e., ever since the Internet started becoming popular.

We also use the terms Internet Advertising, Web Advertising, and Digital Advertising with the same meaning as online advertising. Many people also use the term Online Marketing and online advertising interchangeably even though the two terms technical are slightly different.

‘Online,’ in this context, refers to the Internet. Advertising is the business of attracting people’s attention and getting them to buy a product or service.

Online advertising – explosive growth

Since the early 1990s, the size of the global online advertising market has grown exponentially. In fact, today it is a standard for multinational corporations, SMEs, and individual people. ‘SMEs’ stands for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

Regarding online marketing, Techopedia.com makes the following comment:

“A major advantage of online advertising is the quick promotion of product information without geographical boundary limits.”

”A major challenge is the evolving field of interactive advertising, which poses new challenges for online advertisers.”

Online advertising - definition and some examples
Online advertising involves using venues on the Internet to place adverts.

Online advertising – channels

Marketing and advertising experts say that online advertising is the same thing as traditional advertising, except that it is considerably more complicated. It is complicated because of the technology.

With online marketing, advertisers can display their promotional material in software, websites, and videos. The adverts may also appear in mobile apps. In fact, there are countless types of online ads and channels.

When we talk about advertising channels, we are referring to venues where adverts can appear. Here are a few of them:

  • Text Ads

A text ad is some text with a hyperlink. If you click on the hyperlink, it takes you to a website or an advertiser’s landing page. Text ads commonly appear inside the text of blog posts.

However, they may also appear on their own, i.e., as a separate piece of text from the post.

  • Display Ads

Display ads appear alongside the content. In most cases, they contain promotional material relevant to the theme of the webpage or article.

For example, display ads promoting lawn mowers are more likely to appear on webpages with a gardening theme.

Display ads usually appear in emails, webpages, and apps.

  • Banner Ads

Advertisers display banner ads prominently on a webpage. They were once extremely popular. We can still see them on webpages and apps. However, they are less common than they were.

Online advertisers overused banner adds. In fact, they used them so much that they created ‘banner blindness.’

Banner blindness occurs when viewers become immune to banners. In other words, when viewers mentally block out the banners.

  • Native Ads

A native ad is a piece of writing that appears in an online publication – it looks just like part of an article. However, it is not. It is a paid ad that the advertiser has placed.

The aim of a native ad, just like any other advert, is to promote a service or product.

Some advertisers place their native ads too discreetly. In other words, you cannot tell whether they are part of the text or an advertisement. You cannot tell until you click on them.

In fact, many readers today complain that some text ads appear like part of the blog. This is sneaky, they say.

On most blogs, however, the native ad will an indication that it is promotional material. For example, you may see the phrase ‘Sponsor’s Message’ before the ad.

  • Affiliate Links

An affiliate link is a specific URL that has the affiliate’s username or ID. Advertisers use affiliate links to record traffic that a promotional campaign sends to the advertiser’s website. This is all part of an ‘affiliate program.’

In affiliate marketing, the advertiser recruits affiliates to sell its goods or services online.

If you sign up to a provider’s website, they send you a specific link to their site. You then place this link on your website. When visitors to your site click on the ad, they go to the advertiser’s site.

As an affiliate, you receive a commission. Your commission may be according to the number of referrals or sales. In other words, how many people you send or how many orders the advertiser achieves from your referrals.

  • Social Media Ads

Social media ads appear on websites like Facebook, i.e., online social media networks. Most of them look like regular social media posts or ‘tweets.’

Most social media ads are relevant to the user’s interests.

  • In-App Ads

In-app advertising refers to ads that appear in a software app. They may be native ads, text ads, display ads, or a combination.

This type of advertising has become increasingly more popular over the past five years. In other words, since the upswing in mobile sage, marketers have taken advantage of in-app advertising.

  • Video Ads

Video ads appear before you watch a video footage online. In websites like YouTube and Vimeo, such ads are becoming more common.

In fact, video ads are just like traditional TV ads. However, the advertiser can monitor the effectiveness of a video ad better than a TV ad.

For example, with a TV ad, I do not know what the viewer does after seeing the advertisement. With an online video ad, if the viewer clicks on the advert, I know about it. I also know where the viewer goes, i.e., which web pages they visit.

  • Email Ads

Email ads appear as either texts, display ads, or native ads on emails.

For the advertiser, having a direct line of communication with individuals is great. Thus, email advertising is one of the most effective advertising methods there are.

According to Wikipedia:

“Online advertising is a form of marketing and advertising which uses the Internet to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers.”

“It includes email marketing, search engine marketing, social media marketing, many types of display advertising, and mobile advertising.”

Online advertising vs. online marketing

These two terms are similar, but not exactly the same.

  • Online advertising

This is a subset of online marketing. In this case, it specifically refers to paid advertising campaigns to promote goods or services on the Internet.

  • Online marketing

This covers a much wider areas, which includes online advertising. Online marketing encompasses search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, social media management, market research (before a product is launched), the study of customer behavior and preferences, among other things.

Online advertising seeks immediate engagement through paid avenues while online marketing focuses on longer-term strategies.

Test your knowledge

Do the sentences below reflect Online Advertising or Online Marketing situations? (Answers at the end of this article).

  1. “We’ve purchased a series of PPC ads to drive immediate traffic to our landing page for the holiday sale.”
  2. “Our team is currently optimizing our website’s content for search engines to improve visibility for Product B.”
  3. “Our company is running banner ads targeted at sports enthusiasts on popular athletic forums this month.”
  4. “We are trying to determine whether Product A, which sells well in Europe and North America, will do as well in China.”
  5. “We have spent $300,000 dollars placing ads on the homepages of several websites this year.”
  6. “We need a signature tune to help promote our new product.”
  7. “We sent out 100,000 questionnaires asking people whether they would pay more for a wireless vacuum cleaner.”

Two Educational Videos

These two interesting videos featured on our partner YouTube channel, Marketing Business Network, explain the meanings of ‘Online Advertising’ and ‘Online Marketing,’ utilizing easy-to-understand language and and examples.

What is Online Advertising?

  • What is Online Marketing?

Test Your Knowledge ANSWERS: 1. Online Advertising. 2. Online Marketing. 3. Online Advertising. 4. Online Marketing. 5. Online Advertising. 6. Online Advertising. 7. Online Marketing.