Thanks to the Internet, differentiation between media companies is blurring. Newspaper photographers now shoot video for his or her 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 concentrate on the difference between those two.
Newspaper business systems (e.g. AdPro, Mediaspan, SCS) refer to themselves as ad-tracking software. Although they’re correct insofar as they keep track of the booking, pricing, sizing and billing of ads, they don’t track the effectiveness of the ads. That’s an important difference from online ad-tracking systems. naija news Another major distinction is print publishers are those paying for and managing the newspaper software, whereas online publishers piggyback on someone else’s software, usually at no cost to them.
Although business software is the most complex software used by newspapers, here’s a straightforward 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 many publications made available from that newspaper. Someone at the newspaper then enters an insertion order to the system. Like, 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 within 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 used 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’ll either place the ad on hold if the advertiser doesn’t have sufficient credit, or approve it. The ad-entry person can also enter a payment for that advertiser and apply it to the ad. The device allows newspapers to distribute a regular bill to the advertiser showing all the ads that ran and the total due. When the advertiser remits payment, an accounting person will enter that payment into the system and apply it to the appropriate ads or invoices.
Some business systems also provide modules for managing the specific creatives (the ads themselves), along with keeping track of the orders for online ads. But they often don’t manage the uploading of those ads, or tracking the consumer responses to those ads. That’s where online ad-tracking systems come in.
Online publishers who would like to place ads on their sites often use affiliate networks to control 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 in charge of choosing which advertising campaigns they want to run, or they may be closed networks (e.g. AvantLink or Affiliate Traction) where in actuality the networks manage the campaigns for the advertisers.
Whichever form 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. In case a publisher joins multiple networks, the publisher may have access to any or all the systems used 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 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 able to begin to see the stats from the campaigns they run for them to see the number of impressions, clicks, sales and-most important-the commission they expect to receive as a result of running that campaign. Unlike newspaper software where only the newspaper has usage of the system, both publishers and advertisers have usage of online tracking systems so they both know how successful the campaigns are. Online tracking systems also vary from newspaper systems in that the advertisers are the ones that dictate what the price of the campaign is going to be, and the specific payout isn’t known until after the campaign has been running. With newspaper ads, an advertiser knows precisely what the ad will definitely cost prior to the ad runs. With online tracking systems, even though advertiser and publisher have a concept of what the price for each lead or sale might be, the total cost is dependent on how a ad actually performs. That’s why affiliate marketing is also referred to as performance marketing.
Online tracking systems do a decent job of tracking ad performance (unfortunately you will find still methods to defraud the systems, but that’s another topic), and they are able to let you know 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 you to export that data (or enter it manually) into Quickbooks.