Online advertising, also known as online marketing, Internet advertising, digital advertising or web advertising, is a form of marketing and advertising which uses the Internet to deliver promotional marketing messages to consumers. Many consumers find online advertising disruptive and have increasingly turned to ad blocking for a variety of reasons.
When software is used to do the purchasing, it is known as programmatic advertising.
Online advertising includes
- email marketing
- search engine marketing (SEM)
- social media marketing
- display advertising
- banner advertising
- mobile advertising
In 2016, Internet advertising revenues in the United States surpassed those of cable television and broadcast television.:14 In 2017, Internet advertising revenues in the United States totaled $83.0 billion, a 14% increase over the $72.50 billion in revenues in 2016. And research estimates from 2019’s online advertising spend puts it at $125.2 billion in the United States, some $54.8 billion higher than the spend on television ($70.4 billion).
Many common online advertising practices are controversial and, as a result, have been increasingly subject to regulation. Online ad revenues also may not adequately replace other publishers' revenue streams. Declining ad revenue has led some publishers to place their content behind paywalls
In early days of the Internet, online advertising was mostly prohibited. For example, two of the predecessor networks to the Internet, ARPANET and NSFNet, had "acceptable use policies" that banned network "use for commercial activities by for-profit institutions". The NSFNet began phasing out its commercial use ban in 1991.
The first widely publicized example of online advertising was conducted via electronic mail. On 3 May 1978, a marketer from DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation), Gary Thuerk, sent an email to most of the ARPANET's American west coast users, advertising an open house for a new model of a DEC computer. Despite the prevailing acceptable use policies, electronic mail marketing rapidly expanded and eventually became known as "spam."
The first known large-scale non-commercial spam message was sent on 18 January 1994 by an Andrews University system administrator, by cross-posting a religious message to all USENET newsgroups. In January 1994 Mark Eberra started the first email marketing company for opt in email list under the domain Insideconnect.com. He also started the Direct Email Marketing Association to help stop unwanted email and prevent spam.
Four months later, Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, partners in a law firm, broadly promoted their legal services in a USENET posting titled "Green Card Lottery – Final One?" Canter and Siegel's Green Card USENET spam raised the profile of online advertising, stimulating widespread interest in advertising via both Usenet and traditional email. More recently, spam has evolved into a more industrial operation, where spammers use armies of virus-infected computers (botnets) to send spam remotely.
Online banner advertising began in the early 1990s as page owners sought additional revenue streams to support their content. Commercial online service Prodigy displayed banners at the bottom of the screen to promote Sears products. The first clickable web ad was sold by Global Network Navigator in 1993 to a Silicon Valley law firm.
In 1994, web banner advertising became mainstream when HotWired, the online component of Wired Magazine, and Time Warner's Pathfinder (website)[ sold banner ads to AT&T and other companies. The first AT&T ad on HotWired had a 44% click-through rate, and instead of directing clickers to AT&T's website, the ad linked to an online tour of seven of the world's most acclaimed art museums.
GoTo.com (renamed Overture in 2001, and acquired by Yahoo! in 2003) created the first search advertising keyword auction in 1998.:119 Google launched its "AdWords" (now renamed Google Ads) search advertising program in 2000 and introduced quality-based ranking allocation in 2002, which sorts search advertisements by a combination of bid price and searchers' likeliness to click on the ads.
More recently, companies have sought to merge their advertising messages into editorial content or valuable services. Examples include Red Bull's Red Bull Media House streaming Felix Baumgartner's jump from space online, Coca-Cola's online magazines, and Nike's free applications for performance tracking. Advertisers are also embracing social media and mobile advertising; mobile ad spending has grown 90% each year from 2010 to 2013
According to Ad Age Datacenter analysis, in 2017 over half of agency revenue came from digital work.