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There is a multitude of ways to market your business on the web and each comes with their own advantages, disadvantages, and idiosyncrasies. A business can choose from one, two, or a combination of all of them to pave their way to fame.
Banner ads are basically the same as any graphic advertisement you would see in a magazine or newspaper, but has the ability of linking the viewer directly to the advertiser's web page. The purpose of a banner ad is not only to be seen, but it enables advertisers to be seen among target areas. If your product or service is niche related then it would be wise to advertise where viewers are going to be linking.
There are different types of banner ads ranging from small and simple, to big and multidimensional (incorporating audio and animated visual aspects). The size of a banner ad may be contingent on where the ad will be displayed and the price for its presence.
You want your banner ad to have an impact, so content and placement (on site and actual page) is important to consider. The banner ad would be most useful showcasing a product or result of a service rather than a symbol or picture of the company itself. Having your banner ad at the top of the page on which it's displayed would ensure that more people will see it.
The usefulness of banner ads can be seen as twofold. Web browsers can directly link to the advertiser's website via the banner ad; but banner ads can also gain 'branding' privileges by staying in the consciousness of viewers. A web browser may not specifically click on your ad, but next time they are out shopping for a product or service related they may remember seeing the ad and continue with a purchase.
Affiliate ads are advertisements put on other websites in order to gain potential clients. The host of the affiliate ad takes a percentage of the sales the ad generates.
It could be seen as disadvantageous to pay the host a portion of sales revenues, but what they are granting in return is more popularity. Even if browsers are not buying a product or service, they are internalizing the advertisement. This means that more people are being introduced to the product or service. This method can be particularly attractive to small to medium sized businesses that get an affiliate add on 'big' company sites.
Text Link Ads
Text link ads are much like banner ads except they are strictly textual and appear in the prose of a site. Small to medium sized businesses in the past have paid for text link ads to appear on more popular pages to achieve acclaim.
Google and other search engines have recently done what they can to distinguish between paid and non-paid text links thus leading advertisers to seek other avenues for esteem. The way in which the search engines monitor links is not full-proof and many pages still illustrate paid text links.
The catch-22 for small to medium sized businesses is that to compete you have to rank high in search engines and to rank high in search engines you have to be one of the bigger industries (getting high amount of links).
There are of course 'legitimate' ways to accumulate text links. You have to find a niche or establish a credible name, wait, and wait for an outcome. If you continually produce quality product, service, and information, word of mouth on the web will help you get to the top.
Presell pages are pages that are informative and well written illustrating knowledge about an industry, company, and any other relevant topics. An advantage of a presell page is that it will establish the source as a credible and informative site to the reader. Excellent presell pages will inadvertently improve rankings because the information supplied will be placed on well esteemed sites (such as those of the government or educational sites). A common mantra of Google is, "what is good for the reader is good for your ranking." The author of a popular presell page will acquire a good name and links based on topic and keywords.
The process of paying bloggers (to accumulate links) is similar to that of paying other sites for text links. When the major search engines stiffened their security on distinguishing paid from non-paid text links, many innovative advertisers capitalized on the popularity of blogging. Advertisers would pay bloggers to garner links to their site via recommendation or clever placement by the blog's author.
Banner ads are also taken advantage of on blog sites. Their difference from textual links is that more of the credibility of the blogger comes into play concerning text links. If pre-established and highly acclaimed bloggers place a link to a site (to be seen by all the bloggers), it becomes a goldmine for the site referenced. The advantages of a banner ad will remain static, but a compliment from a popular blogger accompanied with a link will get all of their fans to follow suit.
Social networking was flirted with in the last section, but blogs are just one area to socially network. Social networking involves actions such as emailing, instant messaging, participation in forums and blogs, and participating in my space.
Word of mouth is an incredible way to advertise. A great deal of people on the web engage in circular societies (meaning that many users network and turn one another on to sites). If one user's interest was piqued, then they would inform their circle of web friends about the site. Friends of that immediate circle would have contacts outside and overlapping into another circle thus creating more of an opportunity of networking and so on.
This is a genuine way to market on the web. For sites that have something fantastic to offer it is a blessing, but not being or doing what is promised will quickly bury someone.
Interstitial ads are those ads that appear 'on the way' to another site. If attempting access to a site and an ad appears then you have just seen an interstitial site. There most likely are more disadvantages than advantages in engaging in these ads, but it does put a company's name, product, or service into the consciousness of the viewer. Even though a viewer may hate a business for interrupting their browsing time, they may recognize their name, service, or product later down the road and either recommend or partake in them themselves.
Newsletters are a venerable source of information. Sponsorship of a newsletter will get a business associated with the author of the newsletter. This is another inadvertent way to 'ride the coattails' of a bigger and more popular company. The name of the sponsor will achieve a connotative status with the producer of the newsletter and their readers. As with presell pages, the nature of the newsletter is more informative and legitimatized.
Writing for Websites
Writing for websites relating to an industry is a fabulous way to acquire higher status. 'Content is king' is still a popular slogan in the internet world and providing solid content on a specific topic will attract respect. This avenue carries with it the legitimacy of presell pages and newsletter sponsorship, but takes the veneration further.
Now viewers will see that a company is providing content for other sites in a seemingly selfless fashion. The sites may offer payment for the article (or a business may pay the site to have it showcased), but on the surface the provider of the article has the consumers and industry first in mind. The author of the article is establishing they are well versed on a topic and would like to provide their knowledge for public perusal. This is a way to score huge points by word of mouth and by topic and keywords.
Pay Per Click
Search engines will offer advertisers spots featured on results pages based on the user's keyword search. The advantage is the featured company will appear among competitors (inspiring consumers to associate the featured company in with competitors that organically rank higher). This is a way for consumers to serendipitously find a business when the immediacy of their search is germane to the nature of the featured business. A company can budget how much they would like to invest in the venture and monitor lead generation.
Strategic partnerships echo the 'old boy' system of business. Usually an already well established business will 'help' out a less well-to-do business for some later favor in return. This creates a system of networking within particular industries and where one company may need help the other can provide aid and vice versa.
A form of this was popular back when Google was still young and text links were constantly exchanged by 'net buddies' in order to gain higher rankings.
In many instances 'two heads are better than one' and having another business to help out can be very advantageous. A 'brother' business can offer their ideas, resources, and experience that will facilitate the growth of another. No two businesses will be 'exactly' the same, so having an extra source for more information is valuable to any business.
Kenneth C. Wisnefski is the president of VendorSeek.com, an online business to business marketplace that connects business consumers with pre-approved vendors in over 150 different categories. VendorSeek.com has over 5,000 vendors in their Approved Vendor Network and processes close to 10,000 requests per month from businesses of all sizes.
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