Friday, March 1, 2013

A New Distribution Channel

The Internet provides a new and quite different distribution channel for vendors to sell their products and services to consumers. Consumers can learn about, view pictures of, and order products from anywhere at anytime from the comfort of their home or office.
To sell anything, though, a vendor needs to get traffic to his or her Website through advertising. This was first approached from the old model of TV, radio, and print ads. That is, vendors went to popular Websites and offered to pay for placement of their ad for a period of time. Since the Internet is different from the old broadcast media, however, new more efficient methods of advertising were sought. It is relatively easy to determine the size of a TV or radio station's audience. The same is true with the circulation of print media such as newspapers and magazines. It's not as easy with a Website, however. Sure, there are counters, but they can not always be trusted.
Plus, a Web page being retrieved from a server (and thus adding to the counter) does not necessarily mean it will be seen by a human being. Bots and automated processes can retrieve pages that are never seen by any human being. It became important to know whether the page views were coming from the same source or whether they were "unique views"—i.e. new people rather than the same few over and over or some automated process. Another problem was that unless the ad is placed prominently and in context on the host site, it will not draw traffic, even from a large audience of unique viewers to the host site. So, paying a flat fee for displaying an ad on a Website for a set period of time turned out to be undesirable.
Rather than paying for a set period of time, advertisers began to prefer to pay according to the number of clicks on their banners. Standard sizes evolved for banners used to advertise Websites on other Websites. The banners can have words, pictures, and animation and serve as a link to the advertised Website. When you click on the banner, you are taken immediately to the advertised site. Thus, with "pay per click" if you did not get any traffic, you did not have to pay. This motivated the host site Webmaster to place the banner effectively on the site so it would draw traffic. Even "pay per click" had its problems, though. Clicks could also be automated and unscrupulous hosts could cheat. Clicks also needed to be from "unique viewers" to be effective.
Thus, vendors ultimately came to prefer paying only when a sell was actually made or someone at least interacted with the site by joining an opt-in program. The vehicle for paying only for sells or opt-ins on your site from persons sent from the host site became known as "affiliate programs."

from George Little's Internet Income Course. Register to SFI for free and get immediate access to the complete 79-part course.

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