Because of the Internet, differentiation between media companies is blurring. Newspaper photographers now shoot video for his or her websites. Broadcast companies offer classified ads on the sites. Bloggers report local news, and news reporters blog.
However, as it pertains to advertising on these different media, the available technologies still cater specifically to an individual medium. Newspaper software differs from television software which differs from radio software which differs from online software. Because I’m most familiar with newspaper software and online software, I’m going to focus on the difference between those two.
Newspaper business systems (e.g. AdPro, Mediaspan, SCS) make reference to themselves as ad-tracking software. Although they’re 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 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 probably the most complex software employed by newspapers, here’s an easy example of how it works. Once a newspaper gets something up and running (which takes lots of customization, training and money, by the way), the device knows the rates and ad sizes for all publications offered by that newspaper. Someone at the newspaper then enters an insertion order to the system. For instance, let’s assume the ad is 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 new 4X5 ad for them, the device 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 company system contains an accounts-receivable system, it’ll either place the ad on hold if the advertiser doesn’t have enough 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 the ads that ran and the total due. When the advertiser remits payment, an accounting person will enter that payment into the device and use it to the appropriate ads or invoices.
Some business systems also have modules for managing the particular creatives (the ads themselves), as well as monitoring the orders for online ads. But they often don’t manage the uploading of these ads, or tracking the customer responses to those ads. That’s where online ad-tracking systems come in.
Online publishers who want to place ads on the 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 the publishers are responsible for choosing which advertising campaigns they would like to run, or they may be closed networks (e.g. AvantLink or Affiliate Traction) where 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 perhaps 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 could have access to all or any the systems employed 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 will also be able to start to see the stats from the campaigns they run to allow 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 device, both publishers and advertisers have usage of online tracking systems so they really both know how successful the campaigns are. Online tracking systems also differ from newspaper systems because the advertisers are the ones that dictate what the expense of the campaign is going to be, and the particular payout isn’t known until after the campaign has been running. With newspaper ads, an advertiser knows just what the ad will cost before the ad runs. With online tracking systems, even though advertiser and publisher have a concept of what the price for every lead or sale may be, the total cost is influenced by how a ad actually performs. That’s why affiliate marketing can also be known as performance marketing.
Online tracking systems execute a very good job of tracking ad performance (unfortunately there are still methods to defraud the systems, but that’s another topic), and they can let you know 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 one to export that data (or enter it manually) into Quickbooks.