Advertising is really just communication to those who have not necessarily requested the communications.
Today, many forms of advertising is hated. (Like SPAM and Splogs.) Many forms of advertising are tolerated. (Like static banner ads.) And some are even desired. (Like the flirtatious advances of the opposite sex.)
Many online businesses support themselves solely or mainly through online advertising. Whether this is the only business model that works is doubtful IMO. However, business models based on online advertising are popular.
My Association with Online Advertising
From February 2004 to May 2007 (inclusive) I worked in the online advertising field. During that time, I served as Principal Software Engineer -- the lead Software Engineer -- at an advertising network. (If you hate online ads, I am sorry :-) )
Today, most advertising networks have started towards or have already moved towards audience profiling. (This means they are watching what you are doing and monitoring you so that they can pick ads that will make them and others money.) I have been restistant to this since it is invasive towards peoples privacy. (I would NOT want this done to me, so why would I do it to others‽)
History of Online Advertising
The first known banner ad appeared on October 25 1994 on the HotWired website -- the website to Wired magazine. The banner ad was for AT&T
and looked like the one below.
For quite a while online advertising was very primitive. Much everything was done by hand. If you were an advertiser and wanted to place an
ad, you had to make a phone call to the publisher or to one of the Advertising Networks, negotiate a price, and book in your ad
for a fixed amount of time.
The company that really changed this was BidClix, Inc. BidClix was the first of the advertising networks to come out with a
self-serve system. One that was totally automated and let advertisers place ads and let publishers serve ads without human intervention. This
paradigm has become an industry standard and is mimiced by all of todays advertising networks.
One of the first of the advertising networks that emerged as a dominant force was Overture Services, Inc. Overture (which was
later bought up by Yahoo! and re-branded as Yahoo! Search Marketing) started out life as Goto.com. Goto.com was one of the
first Search Engines to allow publisher to pay for higher listing in their search results. This pay for performace nature of
Goto.com's search result was considered highly controversial. But realizations from it and leasons learned from it lead to the creation of the
Overture advertising network.
Google Advertising (which is made up of Google AdWords and Google AdSense) took the dominant position away from Overture. What
Google Advertising did better was to increase the returns small advertisers saw.
Advertising and the Web
Although it varies from system to system, today, most ads are injected into web pages via code that looks something like the following:
<a href="..."><img src="..."></a>
(Note, this code the greatly simplified.) Code such as this allows the greatest level of browser compatibility while allowing for the maximum level of extensibility. And makes use of: the HTML script Element
, the HTML noscript Element
, the HTML iframe Element
, the HTML a Element
, and the HTML img Element