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The World of Online Advertising, Part 2: Understanding Different Roles

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

While we’re pretty sure that Shakespeare wasn’t referring to the world of online marketing when he (or whomever, depending on your personal opinion) wrote As You Like It, the statement definitely fits pretty darn well. Online marketing is made up of different people, each with his or her own role to play. In this second part of our five-part series, let’s take a look at the different types of roles you’ll come across during your marketing adventures.


It may be obvious to say, but if there were no advertisers, online advertising would cease to exist. While advanced advertising technology exists everywhere these days, if you don’t know how to harness it, you’ll make more mistakes than you should, miss opportunities at every turn, and basically run your business into the ground. Perhaps not in all cases, but growth would most likely be stagnant at the very least. So what does an advertiser do? This is the person or group who creates the campaigns, ads, and parameters that will be used to help pull in customers, grow your brand, and strengthen your business. It is their job to stay current with the best advertising trends and procedures to help you get the most out of every campaign. And after each campaign has concluded, an advertiser will analyze the results and determine how successful it was and whether changes should be made for the next campaign.


In online marketing, a publisher is the person who runs a website. Think of them as the TV station of the Internet, providing a conduit in which your advertising campaign can be utilized to pull in customers. In addition to running the website, most publishers are also in charge of managing the advertising content on the site. They don’t typically control how a campaign is run — that is the job of the advertiser — but they must set up the advertising in such a way as to optimize the effect of each campaign. In fact, some publishers dedicate an individual or even an entire group to the task of optimizing the ads of their site.

Ad Networks

As hard as an advertiser works, they typically don’t have the time to scour the thousands of available websites where your campaign might be a good fit. The same is true with publishers being short on time and resources when it comes to handling sales. This is where an ad network comes in. Their primary goal is to bring these two groups together, which solves each respective problem. The big advantage of an ad network is that they have extensive relationships with both of these groups, which ensures that your campaign goes off without a hitch and that any hiccups along the way are tackled and fixed immediately.


The final primary role is that of the advertising agency. These agencies offer a wide variety of services to an advertiser, from designing the ads for a campaign to developing an entire online strategy for your company. They will often work side-by-side with the advertiser to help determine the best websites to use for a specific campaign to ensure that it is as effective as possible, and will then purchase the advertising space on behalf of the advertiser.

Even when you hire an outside firm for your marketing needs, it’s a good idea to understand certain aspects of what each person utilized in a campaign does so that you can discuss strategies more effectively. Knowing the different types of roles involved with the marketing of your business can quicken and strengthen the process. Learn them well and use this knowledge to your advantage!


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