Thanks to the Internet, differentiation between media companies is blurring. Newspaper photographers now shoot video for their websites. Broadcast companies offer classified ads on their sites. Bloggers report local news, and news reporters blog.
However, in regards to advertising on these different media, the available technologies still cater specifically to just one 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) make reference to themselves as ad-tracking software. Although they are correct insofar as 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 ones investing in and managing the newspaper software, whereas online publishers piggyback on someone else’s software, usually at no cost to them.
Although business software is probably the most complex software employed by newspapers, here’s a simple example 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 system knows the rates and ad sizes for all publications made available from that newspaper. Someone at the newspaper then enters an insertion order in to the system. Like, let’s assume the ad is just a 4X5 ad (four columns by five inches tall) that costs $20 a column inch. The ad-entry person finds the advertiser in their system, enters a new 4X5 ad for them, the system prices it at $400 ($20 X 20 inches), and saves it. Unlike online ad-tracking systems employed by publishers through affiliate networks, newspapers control what they charge for ads running through their system.
Because the business system contains an accounts-receivable system, it will 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 machine allows newspapers to send out a regular bill to the advertiser showing most of the ads that ran and the total due. After the advertiser remits payment, an accounting person will enter that payment into the system and use it to the right ads or invoices.
Some business systems also provide modules for managing the particular creatives (the ads themselves), along with checking the orders for online ads. But they usually don’t manage the uploading of these ads, or tracking the consumer responses to those ads. That’s where online ad-tracking systems come in.
Online publishers who want to place ads on their sites often use affiliate networks to handle the ad tracking for them. Networks can either be open networks or exchanges (e.g. Commission Junction or Share A Sale), where in actuality the publishers are accountable for choosing which advertising campaigns they want to run, or they could be closed networks (e.g. AvantLink or Affiliate Traction) where in actuality the networks manage the campaigns for the advertisers.
Whichever type 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 perhaps a commercial tracking system (e.g. Direct Track or LinkTrust). The networks allow publishers to log within their tracking system. If a publisher joins multiple networks, the publisher may have access to all the systems employed by those networks.
Once logged in, publishers grab the HTML code for whatever ad campaigns they choose to run. Once they paste that code within 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 may also be in a position to begin to see the stats from the campaigns they run so they can see the amount of impressions, clicks, sales and-most important-the commission they expect to get consequently of running that campaign. Unlike newspaper software where only the newspaper has access to the system, both publishers and advertisers have access to online tracking systems so they both know how successful the campaigns are. Online tracking systems also vary from newspaper systems for the reason that the advertisers are those that dictate what the price 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 precisely what the ad will definitely cost ahead of the ad runs. With online tracking systems, even though the advertiser and publisher have a concept of what the cost for each lead or sale may be, the total cost is dependent on the way the ad actually performs. That’s why affiliate marketing can also be called performance marketing.
Online tracking systems perform a pretty good job of tracking ad performance (unfortunately you will find still ways to defraud the systems, but that’s another topic), and they could tell you what the payout should be. But that’s where they stop. Unlike newspaper business systems which have robust accounts-receivable features, online systems don’t handle billing, receivables, etc. They expect you to export that data (or enter it manually) into Quickbooks.