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Types of advertising online and how they work!

The various types of advertising offered online mostly involve targeting individuals with adverts that are considered relevant to them. Various kinds of targeted advertising are possible on the internet because web users provide pertinent information about themselves as they interact with various websites.

Popular Types of Advertising Online

At any moment, only a small percentage of everyone surfing the internet will be there with the intention of discovering something you may be wishing to sell. Most of the other people will be interested in different things. Advertising to them would be almost a complete a waste of time. With targeted types of advertising, only those web users who have the potential to be interested in buying what you are selling are presented with your advertisements. Targeting consumers in this way is a very efficient form of advertising.

Types of information collected and used

It is virtually impossible not to provide information about yourself when you are on the internet. Some of this information is suitable for targeting individuals with advertising. Google in particular gains a great deal of useful information about its users whenever they visit its various websites. Through its search engine, Google has accesses to all the things a particular person searches for as well as when they searched for it. Many people have a Google account, from which Google gains demographic information such as their sex, age and location. Google also has access to information about people from their Gmail messages and from the videos they watch and the comments they leave on YouTube.

While Google’s data collection is not to everyone’s liking in terms of privacy, it is clear they have an abundance of information with which to target advertising and this is precisely what they use it for. Google’s main source of revenue is through advertising and since Google is motivated towards having a competitive edge, it utilises its user information to deliver very effective forms of targeted advertising. Google receives money from advertisers either on a pay per click (PPC) or a cost per thousand impressions (CPM) basis.

Kinds of Targeted Advertising

The Display Network

There are very many websites that participate in what is currently called Google’s Display Network (formerly its Content Network). These websites earn money in return for displaying the adverts Google serves to them. Google manages when, how often and to whom each advertisement is displayed based on the information they have obtained from their users.

The advertisements on the Display Network can either be in the form of plain text or in the form of colourful and graphical imagery. Google’s clients, the advertisers, have control over the design of the adverts although the ads must fit within particular size and word limit parameters.

One strong point of Google’s Display Network is the targeted advertising can be both fairly immediate as well as delayed. A person may be searching for a particular item and then receive relevant advertisements on pages they visit during their current internet session as well as in later sessions. This is thought to boost the success rate of advertising significantly. However, there is a downside to this, many people don’t appreciate the delayed advertising because it provides overt evidence of Google’s data collection activities and can be somewhat off-putting for people with privacy concerns.

One other factor against this form of advertising is the possibility of pay per click fraud. Competitors can fraudulently click on an advertiser’s adverts to artificially use up their money. Another form of fraudulent activity would be for the owner of websites participating in the Display Network to develop various ways to unnaturally inflate the number of impressions or clicks occurring on their sites.


  • Highly targeted
  • Eye-catching colourful adverts are possible
  • Delayed and persistent


  • Open to abuse (PPC and CPM fraud)
  • Negative feelings evoked through privacy concerns

The Search Network

Typically, adverts on Google’s Search Network appear on its search pages in a plain text format (see Search Network for further information). These adverts are purely immediate and directly related to the keywords users type in to conduct their searches. So if a person searches for ‘used cars’ for example, the search results will be accompanied by plain text adverts relating to used cars. The adverts actually look virtually the same as the results but are labelled and positioned to allow the user to discriminate between them. Because the adverts are fairly easy to discriminate, experienced users tend to ignore them in favour of the organic results which have a tendency to provide more useful information.


  • Highly targeted advertising


  • Open to abuse (PPC and CPM fraud)
  • Experienced users often ignore them
  • Plain text only
  • No delayed Reminders

The Organic Search Results

Google’s organic results are not normally considered to be advertisements, however, they act like them and can be treated as such. Generally Google provides ten results whenever someone conducts a search. Each result contains a title and a brief description that represents a particular web page on the internet. Google’ organic results are generally highly relevant to the user’s keywords. Because Google generally does a good job, searchers have a high degree of trust in their organic results. You cannot pay Google to have a web page included in their organic results but you can pay people to create web pages that have elevated chances of doing so. People with knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) can craft a page so that it is well written and particularly relevant to a specific phrase and making it more likely to feature prominently within Google's organic results.


  • Highly targeted
  • High degree of trust


  • Requires a well written webpage
  • Plain text only (result snippet)
  • No Reminders
  • More difficult to create


The various types of popular advertising online involve targeting. Advertising on the Display Network is the most sophisticated form of targeted advertising in that it can deliver advertising repetitively over a relatively long period of time. Adverts on the Search Network are immediately relevant to the keywords a person uses, so are highly targeted in the moment, however, people often ignore these adverts in favour of the organic results. A web page that features in the organic results needs to be unique and provide high quality information tailored to a targeted keyword phrase.

When considering advertising online it is useful to have a good understanding of the different forms available and how they work. In the end it comes down to what works best for you so it may be well worth trying the various types of advertising for yourself.


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