As a result of the Internet, differentiation between media companies is blurring. Newspaper photographers now shoot video for their websites. Broadcast companies offer classified ads on the sites. Bloggers report local news, and news reporters blog.
However, when it comes to advertising on these different media, the available technologies still cater specifically to a single medium. Newspaper software differs from television software which differs from radio software which differs from online software. Because I’m most acquainted with newspaper software and online software, I’m going to target on the difference between those two.
Newspaper business systems (e.g. AdPro, Mediaspan, SCS) refer to themselves as ad-tracking software. Although they are correct insofar while they keep an eye on the booking, pricing, sizing and billing of ads, they don’t track the effectiveness of the ads. That’s a major difference from online ad-tracking systems. naija news Another major distinction is print publishers are the people investing in and managing the newspaper software, whereas online publishers piggyback on someone else’s software, usually free to them.
Although business software is the most complex software used by newspapers, here’s a straightforward exemplory instance of how it works. Once a newspaper gets a system up and running (which takes a lot of customization, training and money, by the way), the machine knows the rates and ad sizes for many publications provided by that newspaper. Someone at the newspaper then enters an insertion order in to the system. For example, let’s assume the ad is really a 4X5 ad (four columns by five inches tall) that costs $20 a column inch. The ad-entry person finds the advertiser inside their system, enters a brand new 4X5 ad for them, the machine prices it at $400 ($20 X 20 inches), and saves it. Unlike online ad-tracking systems used by publishers through affiliate networks, newspapers control what they charge for ads running through their system.
Because the company system contains an accounts-receivable system, it’ll either place the ad on hold if the advertiser doesn’t have sufficient credit, or approve it. The ad-entry person may also enter a payment for that advertiser and use it to the ad. The system allows newspapers to send out a regular bill to the advertiser showing all of the ads that ran and the sum total due. When the advertiser remits payment, an accounting person will enter that payment into the machine and use it to the correct ads or invoices.
Some business systems also have modules for managing the particular creatives (the ads themselves), as well as checking the orders for online ads. But they often don’t manage the uploading of those ads, or tracking the customer responses to those ads. That’s where online ad-tracking systems come in.
Online publishers who would like to place ads on the sites often use affiliate networks to manage the ad tracking for them. Networks can either be open networks or exchanges (e.g. Commission Junction or Share A Sale), where in fact the publishers are accountable for choosing which advertising campaigns they wish to run, or they could be closed networks (e.g. AvantLink or Affiliate Traction) where in fact the networks manage the campaigns for the advertisers.
Whichever kind of network the publishers join, they’ll use that network’s ad-tracking software. Each network uses either an ad-tracking system they built in-house, or a commercial tracking system (e.g. Direct Track or LinkTrust). The networks allow publishers to log into their tracking system. If your publisher joins multiple networks, the publisher can have access to all the systems used by those networks.
Once logged in, publishers grab the HTML code for whatever ad campaigns they opt to run. When they paste that code into their websites, the code refers back once again to the tracking software to pull in the creative for the ad, direct users to the advertiser’s landing page when clicked, and track the impression, click and ultimate lead or sale.
The publishers are also able to start to see the stats from the campaigns they run so they can see the number of impressions, clicks, sales and-most important-the commission they expect to get as a result of running that campaign. Unlike newspaper software where only the newspaper has usage of the machine, both publishers and advertisers have usage of online tracking systems so that they both discover how successful the campaigns are. Online tracking systems also change from newspaper systems because the advertisers are those who dictate what the cost of the campaign is going to be, and the particular payout isn’t known until following the campaign has been running. With newspaper ads, an advertiser knows exactly what the ad will surely cost before the ad runs. With online tracking systems, although the advertiser and publisher have a concept of what the fee for each lead or sale might be, the sum total cost is influenced by how a ad actually performs. That’s why affiliate marketing can be referred to as performance marketing.
Online tracking systems perform a very good job of tracking ad performance (unfortunately you can find still approaches to defraud the systems, but that’s another topic), and they could inform you what the payout should be. But that’s where they stop. Unlike newspaper business systems that have robust accounts-receivable features, online systems don’t handle billing, receivables, etc. They expect one to export that data (or enter it manually) into Quickbooks.