Banner Ads… Contextual Ads… Now What?

November 24th, 2006 | Categories: marketing, trends

Throughout the 90’s, banner ads were industry standard in the world of online advertising. These graphical billboards drove traffic to external sites. A large number of start-ups relied on this revenue model, which proved to be detrimental to most. Costs were measured on a CPM (cost per thousand page views) basis.

Then, in the early years of the new millenium, a man named Bill Gross founded Overture, Overture logowhich was later acquired by Yahoo. The company pioneered the idea of paid search and contextual advertising. This concept was copied by Google and rolled out as Google AdWords and AdSense. Gross sued, and eventually settled with Google. But by now, Google had a stranglehold on the contextual ad market.

These text ads were less obtrusive and tailored to the content of the page, making them more effective and less bothersome on the eyes. This Google logomodel quickly caught on and is now the industry standard. They are used extensively on blogs, portals, and informational sites, among others.

So, what’s next? Well, several companies such as Kontera and Vibrant Media are betting on ‘in-text advertising’. The idea is that specific words within the text and paragraphs of a Kontera logopage act as advertising links to relevant, external sites. In other words, these ads are embedded within the actual content of the page. Some regard this as inconvenient and offensive, while others value the relevance and pertinence.

I encourage readers to visit these two company sites and view what may be the Vibrant Media logofuture of online advertising. I’m still not convinced, but we are still only in the early stages. Expect more advertising platforms to come, especially in the areas of rich-media and video.

Any thoughts on the future of online advertising?


  1. Pete Says:

    Just found your site recently and it’s great! One thought that I read a little bit ago on the NY Times talks about a pilot program between Google and Saturn regarding integrating some of Google’s products into new forms of online advertising. Yahoo seems to be doing this as well with their Ads in Maps services.

    Link to NY Times Article:

  2. Aidan Says:

    Hey Pete,

    Thanks for dropping a comment. Glad to hear you like the site :)

    Very cool article. It just goes to show that online interaction can help initiate offline conversions. In addition, I think it’s creative new marketing techniques like this that will replace old, traditional tactics that A) can’t be measured, and B) provide a poor ROI and conversion percentage.

    Thanks again for the link.


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