Living in a digital world

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Digital dictionary – beta

Note: this page is in an early stage of development. Please be gentle.

Mostly culled from wikipedia, this is a reference tool designed to help with those digital questions you’re too terrified of looking dumb to ask. Like what’s rich media, or what’s the difference between CPM and CPA. Feel free to email me with requests for new entries or to complain about incorrect information – I am sourcing from wikipedia after all.

Ad serving
Ad serving describes the technology and service that places advertisements on web sites. Ad serving technology companies provide software to web sites and advertisers to serve ads, count them, choose the ads that will make the website or advertiser most money, and monitor progress of different advertising campaigns.

Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a method of promoting web businesses (merchants/advertisers) in which an affiliate (publisher) is rewarded for every visitor, subscriber, customer, and/or sale provided through his/her efforts.

Banner ad
A web banner or banner ad is a form of advertising on the World Wide Web. This form of online advertising entails embedding an advertisement into a web page. It is intended to attract traffic to a website by linking them to the web site of the advertiser. The advertisement is constructed from an image (GIF, JPEG, PNG), JavaScript program or multimedia object employing technologies such as Java, Shockwave or Flash, often employing animation or sound to maximize presence. Images are usually in a high-aspect ratio shape (i.e. either wide and short, or tall and narrow) hence the reference to banners. These images are usually placed on web pages that have interesting content, such as a newspaper article or an opinion piece.

Contextual advertising
Contextual advertising is the term applied to advertisements appearing on websites or other media, such as content displayed in mobile phones, where the advertisements are selected and served by automated systems based on the content displayed by the user. Google AdSense was the first major contextual advertising program. It worked by providing webmasters with JavaScript code that, when inserted into web pages, called up relevant advertisements from the Google inventory of advertisers. The relevance was calculated by a separate Google bot that indexed the content of the page.

CPA – Cost per acquisition
Cost Per Action or CPA (as it is often initialized to) is a phrase often used in online advertising and online marketing circles. CPA is considered the optimal form of buying online advertising from a direct response advertiser’s point of view. An advertiser only pays for the ad when an action has occurred. An action can be a product being purchased, a form being filled, etc. (The desired action to be performed is determined by the advertiser.) Google has incorporated this model into their Google AdSense offering while eBay has recently announced a similar pricing called AdContext.

CPM – Cost per mille
Cost per mille (CPM), also called cost ‰ and cost per thousand (CPT), is a commonly used measurement in advertising. In Italian mille means thousand, therefore, CPM means cost per thousand. Radio, television, newspaper, magazine and online advertising can be purchased on the basis of what it costs to show the ad to one thousand viewers (CPM). It is used in marketing as a benchmark to calculate the relative cost of an advertising campaign or an ad message in a given medium. Rather than an absolute cost, CPM estimates the cost per 1000 views of the ad.

CTR – Click through rate
Click-through rate or CTR is a way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign. A CTR is obtained by dividing the number of users who clicked on an ad on a web page by the number of times the ad was delivered (impressions). For example, if your banner ad was delivered 100 times (impressions delivered) and 1 person clicked on it (clicks recorded), then the resulting CTR would be 1%.

Landing page
A landing page is a specific web page that a visitor ultimately reaches after clicking a link or advertisement. Often, this page showcases content that is an extension of the link or ad, or the page is optimized for a specific keyword term or phrase to attract search engines. A landing page will often be customized in PPC campaigns, as a way to both monitor the effectiveness of paid ads as well as a way to supply copy, images, or other content that is specifically targeted to the advertisement. By adding parameters to the linking URL, marketers can compare ad effectiveness based on relative click-through rates.

Mash-up
A mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source into an integrated experience e.g. an estate agent site and Google Maps. Content used in mashups is typically sourced from a third party via a public interface or API, although some in the community believe that only cases where private interfaces are not used count as mashups. Other methods of sourcing content for mashups include Web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom), web services and Screen scraping. Many people are experimenting with mashups using Microsoft, Google, eBay, Amazon, Flickr, and Yahoo APIs, which has led to the creation of Mashup Editors.

Net Neutrality
Network neutrality (equivalently “net neutrality”, “internet neutrality” or “NN”) refers to a principle that is applied to residential broadband networks, and potentially to all networks. Precise definitions vary, but a broadband network free of restrictions on the kinds of equipment attached and the modes of communication allowed would be considered neutral by most advocates, provided it met additional tests relating to the degradation of various communication streams by others.

The principle of net neutrality and regulations designed to support the neutrality of the Internet have been subject to vociferous debate in various forums. Since the early 2000s, advocates of net neutrality rules have warned of the danger that broadband providers will use their power over the “last mile” to block applications they do not favor, and also to discriminate between content providers (e.g. websites, services, protocols), particularly competitors. Neutrality proponents also claim that telecom companies seek to impose the tiered service model more for the purpose of profiting from their control of the pipeline rather than for any demand for their content or services. Others have stated that they believe “net neutrality” to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms. As co-inventor of the Internet Protocol Vint Cerf has stated, “The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services. A lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive.”

PPC – Pay per click
Pay per click (PPC) is an advertising model used on websites, advertising networks, and search engines where advertisers only pay when a user actually clicks on an ad to visit the advertiser’s website. Advertisers bid on keywords they believe their target market would type in the search bar when they are looking for a product or service. When a user types a keyword query matching the advertiser’s keyword list, the advertiser’s ad may appear on the search results page. These ads are called a “Sponsored link” or “sponsored ads” and appear next to, and sometimes, above the natural or organic results on the page. The advertiser pays only when the user clicks on the ad. Pay per click advertising is a search engine marketing technique.

Search engine marketing
Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is a form of Internet Marketing that seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in the Search Engine results pages (SERPs) and has a proven ROI (Return on Investment). According to the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, SEM methods include: Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), paid placement, and paid inclusion. Other sources, including the New York Times define SEM as the practice of buying paid search listings, different from SEO which seeks to obtain better free search listings.

Search engine optimisation
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via “natural” (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results, or the higher it “ranks”, the more searchers will visit that site. SEO can also target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

The Long Tail
The phrase The Long Tail (as a proper noun with capitalized letters) was first coined by Chris Anderson in an October 2004 Wired magazine article[1] to describe certain business and economic models such as Amazon.com or Netflix. Businesses with distribution power can sell a greater volume of otherwise hard to find items at small volumes than of popular items at large volumes. The term long tail is also generally used in statistics, often applied in relation to wealth distributions or vocabulary use.

Web crawler/robot/spider
A web crawler (also known as a Web spider or Web robot) is a program or automated script which browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner. Other less frequently used names for Web crawlers are ants, automatic indexers, bots, and worms (Kobayashi and Takeda, 2000). This process is called Web crawling or spidering. Many sites, in particular search engines, use spidering as a means of providing up-to-date data. Web crawlers are mainly used to create a copy of all the visited pages for later processing by a search engine that will index the downloaded pages to provide fast searches. Crawlers can also be used for automating maintenance tasks on a Web site, such as checking links or validating HTML code. Also, crawlers can be used to gather specific types of information from Web pages, such as harvesting e-mail addresses (usually for spam).

Widget
A web widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate HTML-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation. They are akin to plugins or extensions in desktop applications. Other terms used to describe a web widget include gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake. Web widgets often but not always use Adobe Flash or JavaScript programming languages.

Embeddable chunks of code have existed since the start of the World Wide Web. Web developers have long sought and used third party code chunks in their pages. It could be said that the original web widgets were the link counters and advertising banners that grew up alongside the early web. Later, ad and affiliate networks used code widgets for distribution purposes.

A widget is anything that can be embedded within a page of HTML, i.e. a web page. A widget adds some content to that page that is not static. Generally widgets are third party originated, though they can be home made. Widgets are also known as modules, snippets, and plug-ins. Widgets can be written in HTML, but also in JavaScript, flash and other scripting languages that will be run when the page is called.

Widgets are commonplace and are used by bloggers, social network users, auction sites and owners of personal web sites. They exist on home page sites such as iGoogle, Netvibes, Pageflakes, SpringWidgets and yourminis. Widgets are used as a distribution method by ad networks such as Google’s AdSense, by media sites such as Flickr, by video sites such as YouTube and by hundreds of other organizations.

Applications can be integrated within a third party website by the placement of a small snippet of code. This is becoming a distribution or marketing channel for many companies. The code brings in ‘live’ content – advertisements, links, images – from a third party site without the web site owner having to update.

Wireframe 
In web design, wireframes are a basic visual guide used to suggest the layout and placement of fundamental design elements in the interface design. Because of this they must be completed before any artwork is developed. When completed correctly they will provide a visual reference upon which to structure each page. They also allow for the development of variations of a layout to maintain design consistency throughout your site. This is an important part of the initial development stage because it creates user expectations and helps to develop an awareness and familiarity throughout the site.

Creating a set of wireframes for any project also act as a communication tool to clients and stakeholders, such as content creators, engineers and developers. Over the course of a project the wireframing exercise functions as a stable base on which to consider changes, diverse user paths and new requirements. The information architect and information designer typically use the wireframes as a meeting of the minds, in terms of having solid working documents on which to establish the language, content and structure of interactions users will have with a given site or project.

The creation of wireframes also helps to define the positioning of global and secondary levels of navigation in a prominent and intuitive position, as well as providing an area for utilities such as helpful information and search facilities. When creating your wireframes it is critical to ensure that branding is central to the identity of a site so as to communicate the personality of the site.

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