Online advertising offers consumers an interactive marketing experience that is different from many passive forms of media communication, such as television and radio. The digital platform provides numerous online advertising tools. Websites, sponsored links, email advertising, online classifieds, and banner ads are all types of Internet advertising.
Many businesses use a website as an online advertisement for their products, and some companies use it as a digital storefront. Websites may be an alternative to physical stores, as a place where potential and current customers find out about the company and have the option to buy products. Company websites may incorporate a number of online adverting tools. Some sites seem like brochures that promote services and goods, while others strive to create an interactive online community based around the site.
Email marketing communication is the digital form of direct mail adverting. Delivered to the recipient’s email inbox, these messages often contain a call to action along with a link for the consumer to click, or a phone number to call. Unsolicited, mass email advertising is called 'spam,' or junk email. Several email services provide spam filters that help recipients direct unwanted, junk emails to separate inboxes, so the messages are never actually seen. This, and the fact that there are many regulations against spam, can make it the most ineffective of the online advertising tools.
Banner ads are small billboards that run across the bottom, top, or sides of web pages. Users who click these banners are directed to the company’s website or an introductory site called a landing page. Billboards may come in a variety of sizes and contain other online advertising tools as well. Variations include tiny advertisements called buttons, and pop-up ads that appear on top of the website that the user is currently viewing.
Internet classified ads can act as online advertising tools for companies, individual sellers, and small businesses. Similar to newspaper classifieds, these ads often list items for sale, such as cars, homes, and equipment. Some Internet classifieds also allow users to search for jobs, services, and other kinds of companies. Online classifieds typically allow users to post ads and search for free, because the pages are sponsored by banner ads belonging to other businesses.
Sponsored links are a set of online advertising tools encouraging Internet users to click on links leading to the sponsoring company’s website or landing page. These links are usually tied to specific words or phrases that a consumer might use when searching for the product or company. Link sponsors pay search engine companies to list their links when users type in those keywords. Sponsored links are usually listed on the search page, in a separate advertising section.