Online Ads 101


Many of the services and media companies that we use daily rely on advertising as their main source of revenue.  Google, AOL, Facebook, Twitter and The New York Times all make their money by selling ads.


Whether you are interested in starting an online or offline business, it’s important to understand how advertising on the Internet works.  There are a million things to cover when it comes to online advertising, but today, we are going to focus on the different types.

As with most things on the web, when it comes to online advertising, most anything goes.  If you want to sell your uncle a small text ad in your footer, more power to you.  If you can find a buyer, you can sell it (as long as you follow all the FTC disclosure laws).

That being said, there are professional efforts made to standardize and regulate the industry.  Online advertising is regulated by an organization called the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).  They decide what the “standard” advertising units are on the web and also use their networks of advertising and digital professionals to come up with new and nifty advertising units, which they call their “Rising Stars.”

There are 5 major types of online advertising:

1. Display Ads.
Display advertising is the most common type of online ads.  Think of these as the billboards of the web.

The most common examples of display ads are web banners, which are those box ads you see on the top, side or bottom of a website.  Web banners come in 3 common sizes: 728×90 pixels (these are short and wide and called “leaderboards”), 300×250 pixels (almost a square) and 160×600 pixels (tall and skinny, often referred to as a “skyscraper”).

Display ads can be static (made of just an image), or animated in Flash or JavaScript.

2. Digital Video Ads.
Digital video ads are a lot like TV ads and they are often played at the beginning, middle and end of an online video.  They are usually about 30 seconds long, but sometimes they can also be interactive.  Hulu has pioneered some new digital video ad formats, including their “Pick your ad” option.

3. Pop-ups, Wallpaper & Pushdown Ads.
Pop-up ads are probably the most hated of the online advertising bunch.  These ads are the ones that pop-up when you load a page and won’t allow you to access the website until you either click on them or close them.

Wallpaper ads are those ads where the ad is integrated into the background of the website so instead of being a blue background, it’s now an advertisement for a burger or some other product.

Pushdown ads are becoming more and more common.  These ads look like a 728×90 leaderboard ad, but then expand down over the content of the site.

Many online media sites will sell an advertiser a “Homepage Takeover” where the advertiser buys a wallpaper unit, a pushdown ad and all display ads on the homepage of the site.

4. Text Ads.
Text ads are the ads you see when you are in GMail or on Google or Facebook.  These ads are usually about 130 characters long (about the length of a tweet) and always include a link to the advertiser’s website.

5. Integrated Marketing.
Integrated marketing is the product placement of the web.

What this means is that advertisers buy a custom made advertisement, which often takes the form of their logo being included on some new web product like an online game or giveaway.  You can usually spot an integrated marketing campaign because there will be an advertiser’s logo with the words “Brought to you by TASTY BURGRS” or “Sponsored by TASTY BURGRS” somewhere on the site.

Cocktail Party Fact:

So tired of online ads that you don’t even notice what they are trying to sell you?  You are not alone!  This syndrome is called “Ad Fatigue” and it’s a major source of concern and consternation for advertisers and companies alike.

Reprinted by permission.

About the author: Skillcrush

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