Advertising on the network

Publication Date01 March 2000
AuthorBrian Kelly
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Advertising on the
by Brian Kelly, UK Web Focus,
University of Bath
Can Universities advertise on their
institutional Web site? What forms can
advertising take? What are the dangers
associated with advertising? This article
addresses these
On 5 June 2000 the author ran a 90 minute semi-
nar on the subject of "Advertising On The
Network" at the JANET User Support Workshop
held at the University of Cambridge1. Out of
total of around 80 delegates at the workshop,
almost 40 chose to attend the seminar. Recent
postings to the website-info-mgt Mailbase list2
confirm the interest in this topic by members of
the Web management community in UK High
Educational Institutions.
This article aims to further the debate on the pros
and cons of advertising based on the issues raised
at the seminar and on the mailing list.
What do we mean by
What do when we mean when we talk about
advertising on networked services? There are
several possibilities.
Ads on a Web site
This is probably the area of most interest. It could
include permanent advertisements or rotating
advertisements managed by a advertising com-
pany such as Doubleclick3.
Sponsorship of Web Sites
A permanent advertisement for a company which
acknowledges the provision of facilities, services
or support. An example is the Sun SITE Northern
Europe FTP archive at Imperial College4.
Advertising on email lists
There are several ways in which email lists can be
used for advertising. Advertisements could be sent
to members of mailing lists. Unless the message is
relevant to the purpose of the list, this technique,
known as spamming, is normally frowned upon.
An alternative is for a mail or list service provider
to append a brief message to all messages sent to
the list. HotMail5 and eGroups6 use this technique
(which is sometimes known as viral marketing to
advertise their services.
Advertising provided by other desktop
Advertisements could be provided by desktop
applications, besides Web browsers. A number of
providers of desktop applications, such as the
Eudora email client7, provide free versions of their
software which are funded by advertising revenue.
As described in an article on "Externally Hosted
Services"8 several Web services, such as
Web statistical services, feedback services, etc. are
funded in this way.
Advertising our own services and facilities
As well as generating income by hosting advertise-
ments from third parties, or saving capital
expenditure by providing applications which
contain advertisements we may wish to advertise
our own services and facilities. This could include
both academic (such as advertising our courses)
and income-generation aspects (advertising our
conference facilities, accommodation for use in
vacations, etc) of our institutions. An example of
this use of advertising can be seen on the Berkeley
Digital Library SunSITE9 (illustrated in Figure 1).
The ads are managed by an in-house Perl program.
Further information about the ad management
system is available10.
Use of affiliate progammes
Use of affiliate programmes, such as those
provided by Amazon11 and Blackwell's Amazon12.
When the subject of advertising on the network is
raised, it is possible to interpret this as meaning
advertising one's own services on third-party's
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