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What You and Your Family Should Know About Internet Advertising
Why You and Your Kids Should Learn About Online Advertising
I was watching my child the other day while he was watching cartoons. An ad come on for a action figure and this thing was flying and doing all these neat things that you know that the toy couldn't actually do. Advertising can sometimes be misleading on television and online. When it comes to online advertising it can be hard to spot what is an actual ad online and what is the content on the Web page. Learning about the different types of advertising online and how to spot advertising will make your family savvy consumers and not consumers that have been mislead.
Why There Is Online Advertising
Online advertising allows for you to have free online content and entertainment available to you. The way that Web sites give you free articles and entertainment is no different than network television stations where you get free entertainment and see advertising. Just like television stations, Web site owners get paid to show advertising and you don't have to pay to see the articles or games. There are some Web sites that charge subscription fees, just like pay television (HBO, Showtime, etc.). Many people complain about how intrusive online ads can be since they pop up new windows, cover the content that you are trying to view, and flash. Without the advertising or subscription fees though, the Web site owners would not be able to supply the costs associated with having a Web site such as hosting costs (payment for the server where Web sites live) and time and costs it takes to produce the content and entertainment.
Types of Online Advertising
Online advertising and ways that Web sites can make money takes several different forms. Here are common ways that Web sites make money.
- Displaying Banner, Tower (or Skyscraper) and Button Online Advertising
Banner ads that appear online have been around a long time. They are the rectangle graphic that appears on the top of many Web sites. The tower ads are long rectangles that usually appear on the left or right side of the page. Buttons are small rectangle or square graphics that advertise something.
- Displaying Pop Up (or Pop Under) Online Advertising
Pop up ads open a small new browser window when you open a Web site. Often if you visit many different pages you can have many browser windows open at the same time that can slow down your computer. Many people have now installed pop up blockers which are programs that stop new windows from opening. Pop unders are new windows that open under your active window. You usually don't notice these until you close the active window.
- Displaying Keyword Advertising
Keyword advertising is very common. When you search for something such as "party supplies" at a search engine (Google, Yahoo!, etc.), the search engine often shows advertising based on the keywords that you searched for, in the search results on the page. Web site owners often use the same thing so that the viewer of the page will see ads similar to what is on the page. Often these ads are identified as sponsored links, advertiser links or paid links.
- Displaying Rich Media Ads
These types of ads are being more prevalent. These are ads that will expand when someone puts their mouse over them or just automatically open and cover a large section of the page until a set time expires or they are closed. These often also have sound or video.
- Displaying Jump Pages
These types of ads are their own page that you have to click through to see the actual page you wanted to see. I often think of these types of ads as television commercials.
- Commission Type Sales
Some Web sites have links to shopping and services on their sites and they get paid a commission for any actual sales or clicks from their site.
- Surveys and Offers
Some Web sites will make you do a survey before you can get something for free. The Web sites are paid for each completed survey. Another way that Web sites get paid is to make you accept an advertising offer before they will produce the free item. You don't necessarily have to buy something but you will have to give a valid email address and accept information from the advertiser.
What To Be Aware Of
Now that you know what advertising looks like, here are some things that you need to watch out for.
- Here Today...
And gone tomorrow. The Internet is fast-paced. People can set up Web sites and have advertising for that site displayed all over the Web in a matter of a few hours. The problem is that they can disappear just as quickly, and they can disappear with your money. You should always try to do business with a company that is well-known.
- Advertising Free Stuff
If a company spends money to advertise free stuff, you need to ask yourself why, before proceeding. Say that the well-known XYZ company just produced a new product and they want you to try a sample. This makes sense! If a company that you never heard of is advertising free printable cards though, you need to ask yourself why are they spending money advertising to give you something free. Often these kinds of offers involve surveys or having to give too much personal information that leads to information harvesting and identity theft. Proceed with caution and don't give away too much personal information. Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
- Winner! Winner! Winner!
Your a winner! No! Everyone is a winner and these types of online ads will ask for credit card numbers and personal information. The same goes for those ads where you pick a duck to win or throw a ball through a tire. I do find them fun to play but be careful and proceed with caution if they are asking for too much information in order to collect your prize.
- Pop Ups That Look Legitimate
Most likely you have seen these. They are pop up windows that look like real Windows operating system warning windows. They sometimes will say that your clock isn't correct or you have spyware or a virus. Don't click OK or cancel, just close the window with the "X" at the top right corner. I wouldn't trust someone that is tricking me into looking at their software.
- Read The Fine Print
I saw an ad for free jokes delivered to your cell phone on television the other day. In the fine print on the ad it said that you were actually signing up to be billed monthly. The same is true with online advertising and you need to read the fine print. A word of caution though is if they are fly-by-nights that are trying to defraud you they probably won't bother with fine print. If it is a well-known company though, you need to be careful about what you are signing up for and read everything on the page.
- If It Sounds Too Good To Be True...
It probably is! We all want to get something for nothing and we all want to be magically cured with a little pill. The reality is though, you have to be a skeptic when someone is offering you something that sounds too good to be true.
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