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DIGITAL MARKETING DEFINITIONS: A to C

'The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms'    Socrates


book cover: key concepts in 
e-commerce

The definitions on this site are from my book Key Concepts in e-Commerce published in 2007. The majority of the terms are still in use and the meanings accurate. However, some terms are no longer in use [treat them as a history lesson :-) ] and some have changed as technology - or how they are used - has changed with the passing years, and so I updated them. I have also added some new terms to those in the original book.

Oh ... and I changed the title from 'e-commerce' to 'digital marketing'.

The definitions

D - G | H - R | S - Z | numbers

Any word in bold has its own definition within the glossary.

A/B testing     An offline concept that is practiced in an digital environment when testing website or email performance. The basic premise is that an equal number of users are exposed to an email or web page - or combination of the two - that has been developed in two formats [that is, A and B]. In the test, equal quantities of traffic are direct to each [by either period-based changes or using a traffic splitter code] and results recorded to measure which works best. Things that can be tested using an A/B split include headlines, copy, graphical images, banner ads, PPC ads, button colours - indeed, anything where there is the potential to improve the response and be able to measure the improvements.

Above the fold     Originally a expression used in newspaper publishing, above the fold is a reference to full-size newspapers being folded in half by the majority of readers. The term refers to the top half of the front page - above the fold - which is where the most important and/or eye catching content will be. The phrase has been adapted by web publishers in a very similar context, the online phrase referring to that part of the website that is visible in the user's browser without them scrolling down. For the web publisher that part of the web page that is visible as soon as it downloads is just as valuable as its newspaper equivalent [see also viewable area].

Access control     Any kind of device that determines who can have access to a network resource. The requirement for a log-in and password is the norm. See also encrytion.

Access provider     see Internet service provider.

Accessibility     see website accessibility.

Accountable marketing     A term used to describe to pay per click advertising, the nature of which facilitates easy cost vs results analysis. This is in contrast to the unaccountable nature of corporate marketing - branding, for example. Finance departments like the pay per click model as each ad is accountable in that it costs no money if it not successful in its objective [that is, if no one clicks on it, it costs no money]. This concept is contrary to the well used maxim that half of all advertising spend is wasted, but you never know which half [historians can't agree whether the phrase should be attributed to US department store owner, John Wanamaker or soap magnate Lord Leverhulme]. In accountable marketing however, no money is wasted - unless you are the victim of click fraud.

Active content     Any content on a website that is either interactive or dynamic - effectively, anything that moves on the web page. Because the term dates back to a time when movement on a web page was unusual it is rarely used these days. Note that the term should not be confused with an active server page.

Active server page [ASP]     A dynamically created web page that uses software which is processed on the web browser before being served to the user. Used mostly for online query forms, an active server page can be identified by the .asp suffix on a page's URL. See also dynamic web pages.

Active token     An application of a turing number - a randomly generated series of digits - this is an electronic device that can create passwords on a one-off basis as part of a security system. The unique password is normally presented to the user as an image [rather than text] so that it must then be physically typed into the browser. An active token increases security by preventing any kind of software from reading and copying the text automatically. Their use is increasing as sites that allow comments to be added - blogs for example - use them to prevent automated spamming. An active token is a type of CAPTCHA.

Active window     That part of a website that is seen by the user at any given time, making it the prime real estate on a computer screen. See also viewable area and above the fold.

ActiveX     A Microsoft-developed independent program which can be safely downloaded to a computer and immediately run without fear of viruses or other harm to the computer or its files, ActiveX makes it possible for web pages to include functions such as animations and calculators. Note however, a similar definition can be found for Java, ActiveX being Microsoft's version of a program with the same function.

Ad     A common abbreviation for advert, which is in turn an abbreviation of advertisement. For no apparent reason, it has become common practice to use ad when referring to any kind of advertisement in an online context.

Ad aggregators     see online advertising network.

Ad banner     see banner.

Ad-blocker     Software that can be downloaded onto a user's browser so that any network ads on sites they might visit are disabled. Some comentators suggest that if ad-blockers are used widely - and are effective - it will change the Internet as publishers of free conetnt will lose the income generated by ads and so 'free' sites will cease to exist.

AdCenter     The trade name of Microsoft's pay per click advertising system. Note that it was originally MSN adCenter but is now called Microsoft adCenter. See also AdWords and Yahoo! search marketing.

Ad exchange     Not to be confused with a banner exchange, this is an e-marketplace - operated by a company acting as a broker - in which website publishers who have unsold ad inventory and those who wish to buy online advertising space participate in an auction-based system to sell or buy that space. Ad agencies are rarely open to the public or individual site owners, the participants normally being ad agencies and multi-site publishers. Each exchange provides a system of controls to keep the online community safe from harmful or objectionable content. An ad exchange might be part of an online advertising network.

Ad network     see online advertising network.

Address Verification System [AVS]     Software that automatically checks a user's address that is held on file against that entered on an online form. It is normally used by banks and credit card companies to detect fraudulent transactions.

Ad-gaming     see advergaming.

Ad impression     A metric used in website analytics, this is the number of times a banner ad is downloaded during a specific period of time. Note that because the ad has been downloaded does not necessarily mean the user has even seen it, never mind taken any notice of it. There is also the issue of whether or not the ad has actually downloaded onto the browser screen before the user clicks on a link and moves off of the page particularly if it is not in the viewable area. See also impression.

Ad inventory     Used for purposes of invoicing, ad inventory is the number of ad impressions that a website sells over a period of time, normally a month.

Adlab [the adCenter Incubation Lab]     A Microsoft research and development unit that looks specifically at increasing income through ad sales.

Ad listing     The textual content that a user sees when an ad appears on a search engine results page - the listing. The ad listing is made up of a title and a short description of the product or service being promoted. The composition of the listing is important in that it will be the difference between a user clicking on it or not, and so best practice is to include a call to action.

Ad network    see online advertising network .

Ad rotation [also known as dynamic rotation]     It is rare for websites to display the same ads continuously, primarily because more revenue can be earned by changing them on a frequent basis - or rotating them. There are a number of methods of rotation: [a] by user session - where the same ads are displayed whilst a user is on the site, [b] by page download - each time a user opens a page on the site a different ad from a series is displayed, or [c] by user profile [see contextual and behavioural targeting]. See also adsense, surround sessions and dayparts.

Adsbot     Another creation from Google that has become a generic term for the practice [see also AdWords], Adsbot is spider used by Google to assess the quality of AdWords landing pages. The concept is that the higher the quality of the landing page the higher in a SERP listing your ad might be placed. Like their search engine algorithms, however, Google keep secret how they assess 'quality' - though practices such as having an ad that promotes one product and a landing page that is for another [eg adult material] is an obvious candidate for being marked down.

Ad scheduling    see dayparting.

AdSense     Google's AdSense is part of the Google Display Network and refers to text, image, video and rich media adverts that are delivered on third party sites and are relative to the site's content and audience. The ads are placed on publishers' sites, so earning revenue for the site's publisher. Technically advanced, the system is based on the offline concept of contextual and behavioural targeting and the technology involved is sometimes referred to as collaborative filtering.

Ad server     A third-party server [3PAS] that stores adverts and delivers them to website visitors, normally used by an online advertising network. Having ads on a separate server allows publishers to feature ads on their site[s] without having to store those ads on their own servers. They also allow ad networks to control the distribution of the ads they are handling for clients. Adware is normally used to record ad server activity. Publishers should be aware, however. If an ad server is running slowly, or the ads are too large, the downloading ads could cause the website itself to download slowly also. Users can see if a website is running adware by looking at the status bar at the foot of their browser. This shows the URL of where content is being downloaded from. Normally this will be the URL of the website itself, but it could also feature the URL of the Ad server distributing the ads - for example, something like www.adserverspecialistcompany.com/aparticularadvert.

ADSL     see digial subscriber line.

Ad space     The area of a website designated to carry banner ads. The space could be filled with banners designated by the publisher of the site, or the space could display ads hosted on a third party ad server. Banner sizes are one of the few things that are standard throughout website design and publishing - probably because they are the only source of income for many websites. Convention also dictates where on the web page banners are hosted - normally across the top, down the right hand side and along the bottom.

Adult website     Although normally a euphemism for a website that has pornographic - adult - content, the phrase can also refer to gambling or any other sites not deemed suitable for children.

Advergaming [also known as ad-gaming]     Although advergaming makes the use of computer games as a medium for advertising, this is a simplified description of the concept. Using a similar concept to viral marketing, advergaming relies on a viral element for its success - with users passing games on to other users on the web. Advergames vary from being a sponsored web page where users visit and play arcade-type games online to more sophisticated alternate reality gaming. That most games require some kind of registration betrays the fact that advergaming has multiple marketing objectives, with user data being used for research and/or target marketing agendas.

Advertising copy     The textual content of an advert. The term copy is used because the words should encourage the viewer to take an action that will help the ad meet its objective[s]. Often ad copy will consist of little more than a call to action. See also content [2] .

Advertorial     Also known as infomercials, advertorials are ads that are presented in the form of editorial content. The concept is to offer content that is stimulating to the reader whilst at the same time delivering a marketing message. Although they are used successfully in offline media, advertorials carry a certain commercial stigma and online application is rare. Those websites that do use the model tend to list it under various euphemisms such as special advertising section, special promotional feature or integrated content to make them more attractive to web users. In some instances the difference between an advertorial [content written by the advertiser] and sponsored content [paid for by the sponsor but written by the publisher] is narrow - and not readily apparent to the reader. Although the term 'advertorial' has been used offline for many years, the online adaptation is known as Native advertising .

Advocates     Online supporters of an organization, brand or product. See also Influencers.

Ad view     see ad impression.

Adware     A type of spyware that collects information about web users in order to display targeted ads in that user's browser window. Exhibited ads are based on the user's browsing patterns - see contextual and behavioural targeting. Those advertisers who seek to gain commercial advantage by less scrupulous means can use adware that has the ability to deliver competitive ads next to or over the top of a site's existing ads without the user's knowledge or the publisher's permission.

AdWords     Google's pay per click advertising system that is part of the Google Search Network. Ads can be placed on a Google search engine results page and are relative to the search term used in a search. Such is the popularity of Google that AdWords is often used as the generic term for the practice even though the other major search engines have their own versions - Yahoo! search marketing and Microsoft's adCenter. Note that such advertising is sometimes referred to as paid placement.

Adword sites     see domain name parking [2] .

Affiliate     see affiliate marketing.

Affiliate-management     In a normal state of affairs it is only major website publishers can handle their own affiliate marketing programmes - sourcing and negotiating with multiple advertisers being a complex and time-consuming exercise. It is far more common for publishers [particularly of small websites] to use a third party affiliate-management services to facilitate transactions.

Affiliate marketing     Although it is a close relative of online advertising, the use of affiliates to increase sales is a partnership between advertisers and publishers which goes beyond mere advertising. The concept is for business A to have other businesses sell their product or service for them - though not in the same way as a manufacturer would use wholesalers and retailers. Affiliate marketing is, essentially, a referral programme with partners in the affiliation agreeing to a fee that is paid when a referred customer completes a transaction. An offline example would be a car hire firm that rewards a hotel for referring clients. Online, this means that the publisher of the website that hosts the affiliate ad will benefit financially if a user follows a link from their site to the advertiser's site and subsequently makes a purchase. However, ad banners are passive, sitting on the web page waiting for the user to click on them, whereas for an affiliate programme to be successful, the affiliated organization [the one publishing the site containing the links] must be proactive - vigorously promoting the product or service that is on offer. Such publishers are often referred to as content affiliates [see also search affiliates]. Successful affiliate marketing is very much a partnership between advertiser and publisher, and so should be of benefit to both parties. The epitome of good affiliate practice is Amazon, who built its business using affiliates to promote - and sell - books on behalf of the online book seller. However, being an affiliate also produces a form of direct income, in much the same way that selling advertising space on a website does. It is estimated that around 20 per cent of online retail sales originate with affiliates.

Affiliate programme     the terms and operating procedures for both parties in affiliate marketing.

Agent     In a digital environment, this is a software program that performs a specific information-gathering or processing task. Naturally, individuals and entities that act as agents in the offline definition can use the Internet to conduct their business - though this is one practice that has not succumbed to the 'e' prefix - that is, e-agents.

Agent software     A term derived from the computing environment where software agents acts on behalf of other programs or users, the digital marketing application refers to software that helps the human user to cope with the confusing mass of information that is now [and is getting worse] available online. By seeking user preferences and tracking online practice and habit, agent software help deliver more relevant information to the individual user - for this reason the software is sometimes known as a personal agent. See also intelligent search.

Aggregation of products     Essentially, the roll of a retailer in the distribution chain - that is, bringing to one place a variety of products that will appeal to a large number of customers - aggregation of products is the identification, sourcing, ordering, receiving, storage and display of goods for sale. Such activities represent a significant expense for a bricks and mortar retailer, but for the online retailer much of this cost is reduced, particularly those that operate as a virtual business. Amazon, for example, does not have to carry the stock of books as do offline book stores.

Aggregation services     see content aggregator.

AIDA [Attention, Interest, Desire, Action]     A model of direct sales dating back to the 1890s when salesman St Elmo Lewis introduced the concept, and which has been developed constantly since then - notably in 1925 when E K Strong included it in his 1925 book the Psychology of Selling. The online concept requires the marketer to ask. Did the ad: grab attention, arouse an interest, stimulate desire and provide a call for action? It is included here because the AIDA model is highly pertinent for both websites and emails. An element in the online buying cycle, AIDA is also the basis for persuasion architecture.

AJAX [Asynchronous JavaScript And XML]     A website development tool used to create applications that are interactive. The purpose of the AJAX technology is to move much of the computation to the user's computer so that web pages do not have to reload completely when an interactive application is used. This means that speed and interactivity is increased. Search engine marketers should take care however, unless administered judiciously, AJAX can cause problems in any search engine optimization for sites that use the technology.

Algorithm     see search engine algorithm.

Alt tags     see alt text.

Alt Text     A tag used in HTML to describe an image on a website - that is, alternative text that should describe the image. Sadly, too few designers use the facility to actually describe the image, often simply putting in the file name instead. Surfers - particularly pre-broadband, or those using a limited wi-fi connection, often surf the web with their browser's image facility turned off so that pages downloaded quicker. In these circumstances the alt text tag would describe the image [for example 'picture of Humberston church']. More important is the tag's use by visually impaired surfers, for whom the alt text would be spoken by their text reader software - for them 'image 1234.jpg' would mean nothing, whereas 'picture of Humberston church' gives them a description of what the sighted user is viewing.
Also important is that search engine algorithms take notice of alt text tags. In the example above, someone searching on the term 'Humberston church', or simply 'Humberston' would be likely to find that image - or the page it is on - featured in the search engine results page.

Alternate reality gaming     A development of advergaming, the concept of alternate reality gaming was pioneered commercially by online campaigns for products such as the film AI and the game Halo 2 which combined reality and fantasy using the Internet. Alternate reality gaming efforts can blend computer game play, hoax websites and unfolding online mysteries with offline activities such as phone messages and other sinister-seeming intrusions into gamers' real-world lives. In digital marketing terms, the concept can be used as a promotion or as a medium for carrying ads.

Analogue     Media-related devices can be described or represented in one of two forms; analogue or digital. The principal feature of analogue representations is that they are continuous. In contrast, digital representations consist of values measured at discrete intervals. Generally, analogue services [for example radio, TV, mobile telephones] are inferior to their digital equivalent - which is the main reason for digital having [just about] replaced analogue in all key applications.
When used in a computing environment, the term digital is most commonly used to describe the conversion of real-world information to a binary format, as in digital radio etc. For this reason, digital has become a familiar prefix to denote the online application of an offline subject [see also 'e' and 'online' as a prefix].

Anchor tag     The HTML instruction for text or an image to be a link. For this reason a word, sentence, phrase, or paragraph on a web page that includes a link to another page or site might be referred to as the anchor text. The page to which the link takes the user is the target page.

Anchor text     see anchor tag

Animated GIF     A format for saving graphics that allows several images to be saved at once and then displayed by web browsers one after another - so creating the illusion of movement [as with cartoons]. It was one of the first forms of movement used on the web, and is still popular today. Used mostly in banner ads, its popularity stems from the fact that each image can be small [in data transmission terms], and so the images download and play quickly.

Anonymous FTP     see FTP.

App     An abbreviation of application which is another way to say 'computer - or software - program', the shortened version - app - has moved into common parlance with the use of software programmes that are downloaded to run on mobile devices, predominantly smartphones.
Apps on mobile devices can be designed to run on any device , or they can be native apps - which means they are written for a specific hardware platform [e.g. Apple]. A web app is an Internet-enabled app which is supported by a smartphone's web browser, which means they do not need to be installed and so don't take up memory on the device.

Applet     A software component that runs within another application. In a digital marketing context, that application is the web browser. Unlike a program, an applet cannot run independently. Applets are very small, secure, and work with a number of platforms, making them ideal for Internet application. A popular application is in Java.

Application Service Provider [ASP] [or Application Software Provider]     A third-party entity that uses a central data centre to manage and distribute software-based services to customers. In a digital environment, a business may use an ASP to host websites, provide online shopping facilities or facilitate credit card transactions. See also utility computing.

Archie     Generally accepted as the first Internet search engine [note; Internet not web]. Developed by student Alan Emtage in the early 1990s, Archie was designed to help academics find documents in Internet-linked archives. See also www wanderer and SMART.

ARPANET [Advanced Research Projects Agency Network]     The fore-runner of the Internet, ARPNET was developed in the late 60's and early 70's by the US Department of Defense as an experiment in wide-area-networking. The objective was to develop a communications system that would survive a nuclear explosion that had rendered all other methods of communication inoperable. See also packet.

ASCII [American Standard Code for Information Interchange]     The world wide standard for the code numbers used by computers to represent all the upper and lower-case Latin letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. There are 128 standard ASCII codes, each of which can be represented by a 7 digit binary number: from 0000000 to 1111111. ASCII is not normally something a digital marketing practitioner would need to know about, but it is frequently referred to by techies.

ASP     see application service provider.

Astroturfing     see netroots.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line [ADSL]     see digital subscriber line.

Atomic phrases     see cue words.

Attachment     A file which is attached to, and then sent along with, an email message. Any kind of file can be attached - text, graphics, sound for example - but some attachments are too large to be accepted by the service provider. As many viruses are spread using attachments, using them in email marketing is not advisable as recipients will be reluctant to open them and worse, assume the email is malicious.

Auction     see online auction.

Authentication     The process by which the identity of a person is verified as being that which they claim. Although a password can be a form of authentication, it would normally be a digital certificate or digital signature.

Authentication codes     These are used by Internet service providers to tell their inbound servers whether or not the sender is authorized to send emails from the IP address and that the sender is who they claim to be. Authentication codes are part of spam prevention measures.

Authentication tagging     In order to help legitimate emails pass through spam filters, data [in the form of tags] is embedded into each email to identify the sending organization. These enable receiving ISPs to verify that senders are actually who they say they are, making it virtually impossible for spammers and phishers to hide their identities. See also email delivery protocol standards.

Authority site     A search term - related to link popularity - to describe a website that has multiple incoming links from other related - and trusted - sites. Because of its perceived neutrality, the BBC's site is an example, and because they do not have a commercial agenda, so too are University sites. Any site with links from authority sites will score highly in Google's PageRank.

Automatic optimization     This is a practice in search engine advertising which is designed to aid those advertisers who have more than one ad for the same or similar keywords. The search engine will automatically identify which ad has the best clickthrough rate and then optimizes it, by showing that ad more than others by the same advertiser.

Autoresponder     Sometimes known as a mailbot, an autoresponder is an automated email reply system that responds to incoming email. Whilst a common use is to inform senders that the receiver is out of the office at that time and when they will return, autorespond-emails are also useful as sales tools when used in response to sales orders. For example, an autorespond-email confirming a flight or holiday booking could include details of a special offer on airport car parking. However, out of office-type autorespond messages do have a drawback. Should a spam message receive get a reply from an autoresponder it is telling the spammer that the email account is live and so they will target the address with even more spam messages.

Avatars     Animated computer characters meant to represent a virtual person. That they invariably display human-like behaviour perhaps betrays the origin of the term - a Hindu bodily manifestation of an Immortal, or the Ultimate, Being. Widespread use of the term has diluted its meaning over time, with avatar being used to describe anything from character images as personal identifiers on forums and chat rooms to the talking head type representations used on some websites as a way of presenting verbal messages.

B2-     For the traditional [that is offline] business, trading with end users is known as consumer marketing and trading with other businesses is referred to as industrial marketing. On the Internet these have been replaced by the terms business to consumer and business to business trading, with each being more commonly know by the abbreviations B2C and B2B respectively. The apparent logic of these descriptions has seen them generally replace the terms consumer and industrial, particularly amongst the new generation of business students and practitioners. B2B and B2C are not, however, the limit to the B2 range of trading. Others include; B2E [Business to Employee] and B2G [Business to Government]. See also C2B and C2C.

B2B e-marketplaces     Based on the offline notion that is the market [a place where buyers and sellers come together], and applying the concept of aggregation of products, an e-marketplace has numerous sellers feeding goods/services into an online facility where multiple buyers can source goods. In the concept, the virtual marketplace is run - as a business model - by a third party who facilitates trade between the various buyers and sellers, taking a percentage of transactions or a fixed fee for the service. The concept is also known as the butterfly model - a concept that originated in the late 1990s - because a pictorial representation of multiple buyers and sellers surrounding a virtual marketplace resembles a butterfly's wings around its body.

B2B portal     see portal.

B2C     business to consumer.

B2E     business to employee.

B2G     business to government.

Backbone     A high-speed line or series of connections that form a major pathway within a network - the human bone structure analogy being particularly apt as failure of the backbone invariably causes problems with all associated bones. In a digital marketing context, the most common application of the term is when it refers to the main connection with the Internet as used by Internet service providers, with users coming across the term when a web connections are not working due to 'problems with the backbone'.

Back end [operations]     see back office.

Backlinks     see inbound links.

Back office [operations]     Although programmers might beg to differ, in digital business terms back end and back office effectively mean the same thing - with office being more pertinent to the business community. The term has technical origins, where the element of a software application that interfaces with end users being referred to as the front end, and the server element back end. Offline, however, it has always been common practice to refer to staff who deal with customers as front office and those who have no contact with customers as back office. In digital business the two come together. Front office refers to those elements of the web presence with which users [customers] interact, and back office those elements of the business that support customer transactions. For example, on an online shop the front office operations would be everything from the customer arriving on the site - usability, navigation, graphics, sales copy and so on - up until they reach the point where they confirm a purchase. Anything that supports the fulfilment of that online sale is deemed back office operations. This would include such things as inventory management, purchasing [from suppliers], payment processing, storage, packaging and delivery.

BackRub     The project that brought together Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and which was the foundation stone of PageRank, which defined Google from other search engines. Simply put, BackRub was a tool to track where a website's inbound links came from - rather than simply where outbound links go.

Badvocates     The online opposite of advocates - the term being applied to people who complain or give bad reviews about, organizations, brands or products on social media sites.

Bait piece     A very close relative to its younger cousin content marketing [a term that gives the practice a more legitimate reputation], this is a concept that has existed offline for decades - the term describes an article or editorial that attracts the interest of consumers [hence bait] but that also acts as a promotion for a product or service offered by the producer of the bait piece. Online, free information is offered as bait to generate sales leads [see lead generation]. The free offer might be an article that tells readers how to solve a particular problem. To work best, the free article should be associated to the product or service for which that article is bait. For example, a search engine marketing [SEM] company might offer an article titled 'the beginners guide to optimizing a web page for search engines'. By downloading the free article the user has identified themselves as a prospect for the SEM company. Online, the free article is often referred to as a white paper, and so the concept has become known by that term.

Bait and switch     Not connected to bait piece which is a legitimate practice, the basic premise of this practice, which originates offline, is that potential customers, or prospects, are tempted by an offer in an ad or shop window display for a product - but when they speak to a salesperson they are switched to another [usually more expensive] substitute product. Although the practice can be illegal [advertising goods that do not exist, for example], and perhaps always morally dubious, it is common practice in sales environments. If the sales person has the skill to up sell the buyer to the more expensive product by convincing the customer it is better suited to their needs then the customer may well overlook that they were enticed by a bait ad. Online the practice is [a] easier to perform - an ad needing the user to simply click on the bait ['click here for cheap goods'], but also [b] easier to reject - users clicking on the back button. Note that a bait and switch strategy can cause harm to any organisation or brand that uses it and so should be practiced with care. See also clicker's remorse.

Bandwidth     The rate at which data is transmitted - in digital marketing terms, how much content can be send through an Internet connection in a fixed amount of time. Bandwidth is normally measured in bits per second [bps] or megabits per second [Mbps] - often referred to as megs - or even in its singular form, as in '4 meg'. Download time is partially determined by bandwidth, and so is important to digital marketing practitioners. See also broadband.

Banned     Although the term has a myriad of offline applications, in a digital marketing environment it normally refers to web pages being removed - banned - from a search engine's index because they have broken the search engine's guidelines or the site is guilty of spamming. Although the term is commonly used in this way, being banned from a search engine is most usually referred to as being de-listed. See also re- inclusion request.

Banner [banner ad]     The first format of advert to appear online - around 1994, see Hotwired - banners are still the most popular form of online advertising. Banner ads are normally described by their sizes, which are fixed in order for web developers to design-in spaces for ads. Banner sizes [in pixels] include:

* 468x60 - the most common, and so defacto standard, size
* 234x60 - the half banner
* 120x60 and 125x125 - button size
* 120x600 and 160x600 - skyscrapers that down at the side of a web page

Banners sizes are not universal across all ad servers however. For example, Google's AdSense uses 728x90 leaderboards and 300x250 inline rectangles that are unique to that service.

In order to show some movement - and so attract attention - some banners use animated GIFs. Although the term banner is normally associated with fixed position ads, pop up ads are also sometimes described as banners. More recently, other types of banner have been added, these include:

* The expandable banner - where an ordinary banner [normally 468x60] expands to three or four times its size as a mouse is moved over it, the ad collapses back to a banner size when the mouse is moved off.

* The margin landscape banner - this takes advantage of the fact that many websites are designed for smaller screen than are being used by some surfers. For example, a common width for web pages is 800 pixels, yet some users will have a screen that will accommodate 1024 - leaving 'blank' screen down the side. The margin landscape banner takes advantage of this empty margin by filling it with an ad that appears like scenic background, not moving when the user scrolls down the page.

* The full scale take over banner - as its name suggests, this banner covers the entire page content for a limited, specified time before disappearing. It has a transparent background so only its images and content is visible over the host page's content.

* The full-scale landscape banner - a rarely used application that works best on pages that not only have white backgrounds, but plenty of white space. The ad, normally a branding imprint, appears behind the content of the page and can only be seen through the transparent content rather like a scenic background image. It does not move when the user scrolls down the page.

* The sticky banner - these can vary in size, but are usually relatively small [for example 88x31] and stick to the screen as the user scrolls down the page, meaning it is always in view.
* Search&Display banners - allow searches to take place within the banner.

* Transactional banners - widget-powered ad banners that work like mini transactional website - all from within the ad box on a third party's website.

* Pushdown - when a page loads, this ad expands from a thin strip across the top of the page to nearly full-screen. This can be for a predetermined period of time [normally around seven seconds] or the user can be obliged to collapse the ad themselves - it can be expanded back to full size if required.

* Skins - also known as wallpaper ads, these typically take up the entire web page with overlapped site content in the middle. They can be static or interactive.

Banner advertising     The use of banners on web pages to promote a product or service. By clicking on the banner the visitor is normally taken to the advertiser's own website - preferably a landing page. Because the user can react to the ad immediately, banner advertising is considered to be an element of interactive marketing.

Banner exchange     The practice of two or more organizations exchanging - swapping - the placement of banners on each other's website. Although it can be beneficial [a neighbouring hotel and restaurant, for example], it is rarely practiced with discretion and is most commonly used in an attempt to increase search engine ratings, see link popularity.

Banner farm     A website that comprises solely of banner ads. Originally the objective of these sites was to generate revenue through advertising and affiliate marketing income, which then developed into selling banners to website publishers who wanted to increase links to their site with the aim of improving search engine ranking. Success at either is rare as search engines recognize, and penalize the practice - in particular Google's Panda update.

Banner fatigue     A term to depicting the phenomenon that web users are so used to seeing banner ads on web pages that they ignore them without consciously realizing they have done so.

Banner swapping     see banner exchange.

BCC [blind carbon copy]     see CC / BCC.

Beacon     A small form of transmitter that uses radio signals - normally Bluetooth - to contact other devices such as smartphones. The contact can trigger desired actions such as alerting the smartphone's owner - via the Internet - that they are near a particular shop that has a special offer they might be interested in. This connection between two devices is the founding principle of the Internet of Things

Behavioural targeting     see contextual and behavioural targeting.

Beta     A term used to describe an early release [the beta release] of a product - particularly software - to a limited group of users [beta testers] in order to perfect the product. The phrase in beta, is used to identify something that is at this test stage of its development. Whilst the original concept was to test the product it has become common for beta testing to be used to test the market for a new product. Google, for example, labelled its search engine to be in beta for the early years of its availability. This added to its attraction to geeks and early adopters, and prompted its spread virally [see viral marketing] amongst academics and journalists before breaking into the mainstream marketplace.

Beta testing     see beta.

Bid gap     Although this could refer to any gap between bids, in an auction or online tender for example, in digital marketing the term is normally associated with the gap between two advertisers who are competing for the top positions on a paid placement search engine.

Bid jamming     A tactic used in competitive bidding for keywords for paid placement on search engines, bid jamming keeps a bid marginally below that of a chosen competitor, so requiring them to pay the highest possible cost-per-click [CPC] value to maintain a particular position. In other words, you do not win the highest placement, but you do force up the competitor's costs. Manual practice of such a tactic is virtually impossible, utilisation of bid management software being the norm. Bid jamming might be considered to be the converse to bid shadowing.

Bid management software     Software, normally run by third parties, that manages an advertiser's ad listings on PPC search engines. When looking to win the auction for popular keywords in competitive markets simply making a single bid and sitting back is no longer an option. As the name suggests, bid management software allows users to manage bidding by systematically updating bids to maintain specific bid positions, move bid positions up and down to achieve specified objectives and enable advertisers to compete in bid wars. Such software can provide competitive advantage in strongly contested markets. See also bid jamming, bid surfing, time based bidding, return bidding and bid shadowing. Note also that the major search engines are introducing new features to their ad programmes on a regular basis, making bid management an even more specialized occupation.

Bid shadowing     A tactic used in competitive bidding for keywords for paid placement on search engines, bid shadowing involves maintaining a bid position slightly above a specified competitor's bid. By shadowing bids in this way, bidding profiles can be matched [competitor moves up, you move up, competitor moves down, you move down] so ensuring that bids are always winning, but never significantly higher than they need to be. Manual practice of such a tactic is virtually impossible, utilisation of bid management software being the norm. See also bid jamming.

Big Red Switch [BRS]     A phrase used predominantly by techies to describe the immediate shut down of a system using the main or emergency power switch. The term is believed to have its origins in older IBM machines which had, as an off button, a big red switch. In a digital environment the term is often used to describe a total shutdown, whether deliberate or not.

Bit     An abbreviation of binary digit, a bit is the smallest unit of information on a computer. A single bit can hold only one of two values: 0 or 1 - therefore they are rarely used on their own. To be of value, bits are combined into larger units, the smallest of which is a byte, made up of 8 bits.

Bitmap     A type of digital picture made up of pixels each of which is a separate colour. Although they present clearer images, bitmap files normally take up more memory than other image files and so are rarely used online as they will slow the down load time.

Black hat hacker     see hacker.

Black hat search engine optimization     A description given to the profession of those who seek to gain high search engine listings by nefarious means. The term is based on the old cowboy axiom of good guys wearing white hats and the bad guys black. See also, cloaking, IP spoofing and search engine optimization.

Black Friday     see Cyber Monday.

Black Monday     see Cyber Monday.

Blended threat     A security threat that is a combination of viruses, worms, Trojan horses or any other malicious code that exploits Internet vulnerabilities.

Blended search     the concept that search engines do not search for - and deliver - only the textual content of web pages. Other website content that might be relevant to the search keywords include: images, videos, blogs, book listings, PDFs, and on-site searches for such things as products, films, maps, films, music, maps, jobs, recipes and people.

Blind [advertising] network     see online advertising network.

Blog [blogging]     A blog, short for web log, is an online personal journal of an individual. Typically updated daily, blogs normally reflect the personality of the author, and are an element of consumer generated content. Although the term weblog was first used in 1997, with the blog being introduced in 1999, the practice dates back to the early 1990s when individuals who surfed the web and listed [or logged] websites that they found interesting, often with their own review of the sites. In the days of few websites and no search engines, the blogger's websites became the starting point for surfers looking for new sites. See also commercial blog, boss blog and flog.

Blogger     Someone who writes a blog.

Blog monitoring tools     Software that helps organizations - and brands - track what consumers are saying about them in blogs more frequently, easily and inexpensively. See also consumer generated content and online reputation management.

Blogosphere [also blogsphere]     The universe in which blogs reside. The interconnecting nature of blogs means that few [if any] blogs exist in isolation, rather as part of a virtual community or - depending on their subject - social network. Although there is an element of tangibility about a blog in that it appears in a browser window, like the world wide web itself which exists in cyberspace, blogs also exist in a virtual environment - their own sphere or world. The term Blogosphere was first used by Brad L. Graham on his own blog in September 1999.

Blog spam     Messages left on blogs that have the single purpose of gaining an incoming link to a site with the intention of increasing that site's search engine rank. Each message will include the URL of the target site - so creating the link - but nothing relevant to the subject of the original blog. Like other types of spam, blog spam is an annoyance to those on its receiving end. It can be prevented by using some method of pre-moderation.

A more serious application of the same concept is the splog - where the the blog spammer - splogger - uses automated tools to create thousands of fake blogs from content stolen from legitimate blogs or websites. Splogs tend to fall into one of two categories:

* The most common is to create a type of link farm of blogs with the intent of manipulating search results. This would increase traffic to those sites by fooling search engines [which look for frequently linked-to sites] into thinking that the sites are popular and so increase their search engine ranking.

* The second application is to produce blogs that simply recycle content and then run AdSense or other advertising on them in the hope of making money from users clicking on the ads.

Although the technology battle goes on [as antidotes are developed, the sploggers develop newer software applications], blogging services find it difficult to detect and filter out this kind of spam completely.

Bluetooth     A short-range radio technology that facilitates wireless communication between suitably enabled devices.

Bobby     A free online tool which allowed a site to be checked for compliance against the W3C disability accessibility guidelines for compliance. Sites that passed these tests were allowed to display a Bobby Approved logo. See also Disability Discrimination Act, Pas 78 and website accessibility.

The free Bobby tool was officially closed in February, 2008 and the software is now available as part of IBM's Rational Policy Tester Accessibility Edition.

Bookmark     The practice of saving the URL of a website so that the site can be revisited in the future. A link to the site is saved in the user's web browser, normally in a storage facility that allows sites to be catalogued in folders with personal annotations added. In some browsers, bookmarks are known as favourites.

Boolean search     Based on Boolean logic, this kind of search allows the inclusion - or exclusion - of documents containing specific words through the use of instructions like 'AND', 'NOT', and 'OR'. For example - 'Athens NOT Georgia' if you are searching for information on the capital of Greece. Classic logic holds that all statements can be expressed in binary terms [yes or no, right or wrong, black or white] - so the search for Athens should be 'Athens AND Greece', so excluding all websites for the Athens in Georgia, USA. Boolean logic accepts that there may be grey areas in many issues - in the example given, that there is more than one Athens. Fuzzy logic goes a step further by accepting that there are degrees of truth in most real life situations - in linguistic terms, allowing for imprecise notions such as slightly and very. Classic search, for example, could not cope with degrees of temperature, it would have to be hot, not very hot or fairly hot. Search engines allow Boolean and fuzzy search in order to best help the user find what they are looking for - be that a specific search, or something more general. The nature of fuzzy search is that it will find matches even when words are only partially spelled or misspelled. Fuzzy logic is also behind the tilde search, where the searcher uses the tilde [~] to instruct the search to also consider synonyms preceding or following the word specific to the keyword as well as reveal phrases with alternative beginnings or endings, for example, hotshot/shot/shotgun.

Boot     A term used to describe the start-up of a computer. Turning a computer off then straightaway on again - perhaps to clear a problem - is commonly known as rebooting.

Bot     see spider.

Botnet     A group of robot [bot] networks used to automate the distribution of malware on the Internet. Much of what is considered bad about the web - spam email, click fraud and denial-of-service attacks, for example - is practiced using botnets.

Bounce     see email bounce and website bounce.

Bow tie theory     A result of research conducted by AltaVista, Compaq and IBM in 2000, the bow tie theory of the Internet focuses on the importance of links on the Internet. The theory is that the Internet can be defined as being made up of four types of site:

1 The core is made up of sites that share links and traffic [about 30 per cent]
2 Origination sites that direct people into the core [about 20 per cent]
3 Termination sites that have links from the core but few back in [about 20 per cent]
4 Isolated sites that have few links and little traffic [about 30 per cent]

Whilst the theory is sound, quite why it was called the bow tie theory escaped this author for some time - a bow tie having a centre and two wings, the theory having a centre [core] and three wings. However, a diagram on an IBM website has subsequently revealed that the fourth element - the isolated sites - is represented by the tie's cords that wrap around the neck of the wearer.

Bozo filter     A spam reducing feature that is offered by many email clients. It allows users to block [filter] messages from specific email addresses, the list of blocked addresses being dubbed a bozo list.

Bps [Bits-Per-Second]     A measurement of how fast data is moved from one place to another in an online environment. Bps is normally used as the unit to indicate a particular systems speed.

Branded keyword     When purchasing keywords for search engine advertising or paid placement, they are considered to be branded if they are associated with the names, trademarks or slogans of particular companies. Although it is legal to bid on branded terms the advertiser must comply with the search engine's trademark policy in their home country.

Branding     see online branding.

Breadcrumbs     A navigational aid that appears [normally] at the top of a web page to show the user where they are and where they have been on the site - the final entry being the current page. Each page or section visited is listed in order rather like a running-index. For example, on a tourism site the breadcrumb might read:

Europe > Greece > Athens > Syntagma Square > Accommodation > Hotels > Grand Bretagne Hotel

Clicking on any of the previous pages listed in the breadcrumb list takes the user back to that page. Breadcrumbs are particularly useful for big sites where the visitor might delve deep into the content.

Bricks and mortar [traders]     A term used to describe a business which trades offline - that is, in a building made from bricks and mortar, as opposed to a virtual business.

Bridge page     see doorway page.

Broadband     Technically, a type of digital data transmission in which each medium [wire] carries multiple signals, or channels, simultaneously. However, because broadband connections allow a higher rate of data transmission, the term has become synonymous with fast Internet access. The expansion of broadband networks was [and still is] seen as a seminal event in the development of the web. Those who have used a contemporary broadband connection to access the web would find it hard to believe just what surfing the web was like in the mid to late 1990s with a low Bps dial-up modem connection. The analogy [popular at that time] that modems were dirt tracks and broadband represented six lane motorways on the information superhighway is still good today. Without broadband, many of the online applications common on today's web - for example radio and video - simply would not work.

Brochureware     The original use of the term was a derogatory description for a website made up of content taken directly from offline promotional literature with no attempt adapt it to an online context. As that practice has declined [though not completely disappeared] it has become a more general description of static sites that offer no interactivity. Although viewed by some in a negative way as they do not make use of the interactive nature of Internet technology, brochureware sites - effectively, online brochures - can meet the online objectives of many companies, particularly SMEs, although it is advisable for textual content to be contextualized for the Internet [See content contextualization] . Brochureware sites are sometimes referred to as white van websites.

Broken image     The term used to describe an image that has not downloaded onto a user's browser. The fault is normally one in the HTML or other source code of the page. It is also possible that the user is surfing with their browser's image facility turned off [so pages download quicker]. A broken image is replaced by the browser with its own image which informs the user that something is wrong.

Broken link     A website link that, when clicked on, does not take users where they were supposed - and hoped - to go. Often, they lead to dead-end 404 messages that say the requested page could not be found. Pages at the end of a broken link are sometimes described as orphan pages.

Browser [1]     A client program that provides access to the web - Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Firefox, for example. It should be noted that the presentation of a website's content can differ when viewed in different browsers - or even different versions of the same browser, see browser compatibility. Whilst web designers and technicians tend to write off those who cannot read their sites, marketers should always question a policy that excludes any customers [see also rule of one]. In lay person's terms, it is the browser that sends out a request for a page on the web as identified by the user [by typing in a URL or clicking on a link]. When the request is received by the server that is hosting the page, the elements of that page [text, images etc] are then sent - served - to the requesting browser. See also cache.

Browser [2]     A person who navigates through and reads [browses] the web. See also user.

Browser compatibility     Although there is much communality between them, not all browsers read website source code in the same way. This means that if a website is designed specifically for one browser - say Internet Explorer [IE] - it will not appear on a Firefox, Chrome or Mac browser in precisely the same format as on IE. Although the number of websites affected by lack of compatibility is relatively small - estimates suggest less than 10 per cent - in an offline-trading environment no trader would knowingly exclude 10 per cent of potential customers. Yet online, this is common practice.

Browser rendering engine     see Render .

Browser search     the term used to describe the practice of typing a search term - keyword - into the browser's address bar in 'normal' language - i.e. with no 'http', www or with all words joined as in a domain name - and pressing enter on their keyboard. The major browsers function in different ways to this practice. Firefox, for example, presents what it thinks is the most relevant website, whilst IE returns a SERP as if the user had made a search on 'Live Search' using that search term.

BRS     see big red switch.

Bug     Although offline the term has many applications, in an online environment bug means any fault, glitch, mistake or problem that interferes with the smooth running of a program, computer system or website.

Bulletin Board System/Service [BBS]     A computerized online meeting and announcement system that allows people to carry on discussions, download files and make announcements without all the participants being connected to the system at the same time. See also consumer generated content.

Business blog [b-blog]     see commercial blog.

Buying funnel     see purchase funnel.

Buyer behaviour     see online buyer behaviour.

Buy-side e-marketplace     As the name suggests, buy-side considers business transactions from the point of view of the buyer - and is used primarily when referring to procurement transactions within a supply chain in a B2B context. See also e-procurement and e-marketplace.

Buzz marketing     see viral marketing.

Buzz monitoring services     see online reputation management.

Byte     An abbreviation of binary term, a byte is a unit of storage and is made up of a set of bits that represent a single character - there are 8 bits in a byte. Larger storage [memory] is measured in kilobytes [1,024 bytes], megabytes [1,048,576 bytes] and gigabytes [1,073,741,824 bytes]. As the prefixes to these terms suggest, the number of bytes is often rounded down to 1,000, 1,000,000, and 1,000,000,000 respectively. A thousand gigabytes is a terabyte.

C2C     Consumer to Consumer [trading]. The term used to describe the practice of individuals trading with other individuals. Whilst this has been common practice over the years [car boot and yard sales for example], the Internet opened up whole new markets for individuals who wish to buy from or sell to other individuals. Auction sites such as eBay originally thrived on this trade [though for many product categories on eBay, the sellers are actually businesses] and it is this concept for which Napster became famous when it allowed individuals to sell, swap or give music files to other individuals.

C2B     Consumer to Business [trading]. Although it exists as an online model, the concept of C2B trading is rare in practice. In theory any individual can seek to sell products or services to a business. However, if that individual does so with any frequency, or seeks to make a profit from it, they would be deemed to be a business themselves - making the transaction B2B. Another facet to the C2B model that makes use of the e-marketplace is that of the customer posting a message on a website that invites businesses to bid on products or services that the consumer needs. Strictly speaking this would make the actual transaction B2C, the notion that it is the customer who requests the tender [see reverse auction] from the business puts a twist on the model. This has few practical applications in anything but very specialized markets, often where the consumer is buying something that is normally considered a B2B product or service - building services for a private house extension for example.

Cache     A name given to temporary storage space on a computer. Web pages accessed previously are stored in the computer browser's cache directory [on the hard drive]. When the user returns to a website that has been recently accessed, the browser calls it up from the cache rather than the original server. Caches can also be held at ISPs and large organizations that operate their own servers.

Call to action     A word or phrase on a website that invokes an action from the user. In a marketing context the action would be that desired by the marketer. Online, the call to action is an integral part of conversion, navigation and information architecture. A call to action could be to have the user:

* Make a purchase online
* Complete an online order form
* Contact the organization by telephone
* Contact the organization by email
* Complete a contact form
* Subscribe to a newsletter
* Join an online forum
* Download a file for example a white paper
* Forward a viral marketing message
* Apply for the membership of a club or association

The call to action is a part of the copy [see content 2] of a website, and if it is to be effective, its development is best left to experts.

Campaign conversion     A metric that tracks all the conversions that have taken place in the period that a specific marketing or promotional campaign has run. For example, how many new customers were gained over the six weeks a paid placement ad has been included on specific keywords.

CAN-SPAM Act 2003 [Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act]     A US law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission [FTC] which was intended to address the issue of spam on the Internet. Critics argue that it not only fails to prevent spam, but actually endorses its use. Non-US traders should be aware of the details of the Act as it can be applied to email received in America - no matter where it originates.

Cascading Style Sheets [CSS]     An application of HTML that gives both website developers more control over how web pages are displayed. CSS helps designers create sites where all pages conform to the same design principles. However, use of CSS can, if not used judiciously, cause problems for search engine optimization of pages created using it.

Case sensitive     Where uppercase CHARACTERS are distinguished from lower case characters.

Catalogue services     In a digital marketing context, these are websites where a number of suppliers present their wares in an e-marketplace-type environment. The goods can be listed by supplier, but the more successful will list all associated products from all suppliers together on the same web pages. Complex software ensures the orders for the various products go to the right suppliers. The site's publisher will normally take a periodic fixed fee or percentage of any exchanges. Although the early days of the web saw a number of B2C catalogues appear online, the development and availability of easy to use online checkout facilities allowed vendors to sell goods on their own sites. The contemporary application is normally in B2B trading where businesses [particularly SMEs] have the opportunity to promote their wares on a well visited, normally industry specific site. Such sites often serve as portals for industries or specific markets.

CAPTCHA     [Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart] A security device that requires human input rather and so prevents any kind of automated access to protected areas of a network. The most common online application is that of active tokens.

Cause related marketing     An extension of ethical marketing, cause related marketing is where the organization actively supports a chosen cause and seeks to gain competitive advantage from the show of support. Its significance in a digital environment is that the Internet provides a relatively inexpensive platform for individuals or micro-businesses to express their concern for a cause in a commercial environment.

CC / BCC [carbon copy / blind carbon copy]     The facility on an email to send the same message to multiple recipients. If the email is cc-ed then all those who receive the message will be able to see the email addresses of all intended recipients. In a closed environment this will not be a problem - for example all members of a department within an organization. However, in a marketing environment this might not be acceptable. For example, a vendor sending an email promoting a special offer to six valued customers would be telling each of them which other customers are being offered the promotion. Or, perhaps worse, the email addresses of the cc-ed recipients might be used for spam purposes by third parties. In these cases the recipients should be bcc-ed - blind copied - so that other people on the address list cannot be seen by all recipients. Although it is a cheap method of email marketing, using the bcc facility is not considered good practice in that discipline.

ccTLD [country code Top Level Domain]     see DNS.

Cease and desist letter     Although not exclusive to the digital environemnt, many online entities have been sent these letters from lawyers [it is an American term]. Essentially, the letter requests that a person or organization stop any activity mentioned in the letter to prevent legal action. Common reasons for receiving a digital marketing-related cease and desist letter are [a] the unauthorized use of copyrighted content, [b] use of a disputed domain name, [c] the use of a trademark in keyword advertising or [d] liable, particularly on sites containing consumer generated media.

Cellular     Communications systems that divide a geographic region into sections, called cells - as in cell-phones.

CGI [Common Gateway Interface]     The rules that describe how a web server communicates with another piece of software on the same machine, and visa versa. A common application for CGI on websites is that of online forms where a CGI program can process the form's data once it's submitted by the user.

CGI-bin     The common name of a directory on a web server in which CGI programs are stored. The bin part of cgi-bin is a shorthand version of binary.

Channel conflict     In situations where a manufacturer has the opportunity of different channels of distribution through which to reach the consumer there is the potential for conflict between those channels. In the early days of the Internet such conflict was touted as being a significant problem in two scenarios; [a] external to the organization, and [b] internal to the organization. In the first scenario the Internet was seen as being a way of taking intermediaries out of the chain of distribution. The manufacturer would simply sell directly to the consumer through a website. Whilst this is true of a small minority of products, the value of the intermediary - developed over many years - was soon acknowledged and the web was adopted by manufactures for promotion, branding and after sales services only. The second scenario saw many retailers being reluctant to use the web for online sales as they thought it would cannibalize their offline sales. Again, fears were proved to be unfounded. Indeed, forward thinking organizations soon realised that strategic use of the Internet can compliment and improve, rather than harm, offline sales. See also channibalism and disintermediation.

Channibalism     A term [generally attributed to Jack Aaronson] that owes much to the concept of channel conflict. However, whereas channel conflict is normally applied to channels of sales and distribution, channibalism [an amalgam of channel and cannibalism] applies to channels of not only sales and distribution, but all aspects of communication between vendors and customers [known as multi-channel marketing]. Channibilism occurs when the various touch points between the organization and customers compete against each other for the customer's attention - perhaps to meet targets set by the organization - but do not add growth to customer numbers. Aaronson - and conventional wisdom - argues that organizations should embrace and then take advantage of multiple-channel marketing, rather than fearing or ignoring it.

Chat     The term used to describe a real-time keyboard conversation on the Internet. Chatting takes place in a chat room - a virtual meeting place. The term originates from the definition of chat - informal conversation - and the first online chats were mainly techies seeking help or giving advice on computing matters. Now there is hardly a subject that doesn't have someone, somewhere chatting about it. See also newsgroup and consumer generated media. The practice has expanded with online sellers offering potential buyers a 'chat' with a representative of the seller for advice. Interestingly, such represenatives are not called 'sales' staff - even though that is, effectively - their purpose. Similarly, after-sales service - particularly on social media - is prequently offered via a chat facility.

Chat room     see chat.

Check box [noun] or check a box [verb]     A small box that users can click their mouse in to confirm a choice. The boxes are normally square - with a click creating a tick in that box, as is the practice for paper forms - or a circle that is filled by dot to signify that it has been checked. Check boxes are used extensively online as a selector [for example clicking the box for a required product, colour and size] or as a confirmation [for example clicking the box to confirm terms and conditions have been read]. Online market research questionnaires are also a common application, where there parameters of he form can make it so that only one, or multiple boxes can be checked.

Check out     see shopping cart.

Churn     A term used to describe the loss of customers over a period of time expressed as a percentage of lost customers out of total customers. It is normally seen as an element of digital marketing analytics, and is frequently applied to email lists.

Cinemagraph     A still photograph that has a moving element in it. For example, in a picture of a woman her hair might be moving as if blowing in a breeze.

Citation     Used in SEO, a citation is any direct mention of a brand, product, organization or individual on a web-based platform; e.g. a blog. Citizen journalism/journalist [also known as civilian journalism/journalist]     The concept that citizens can play an active role in collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information - activities that prior to the introduction of the web as a medium of communication were the domain of professional reporters only. Although there is a significant difference in the dictionary definition of journalist and publisher, in this context it is not unusual for citizen journalist and citizen publisher to be inter-changeable. See also blog and consumer generated media.

Citizen publisher     see citizen journalist.

Classic logic/search     see Boolean search.

Clear GIF     see web bug.

Click [1] verb     Users click on a mouse button to instruct their computer to carry out a command.

Click [2] noun     As used in the phrase 'competition is only a click away', meaning that a customer need only make one click of the mouse to move from a website to that of a competitor.

Click fraud     A general term applied to any pay per click campaign where a clickthrough is not made by a genuine customer. Whilst all are not maliciously fraudulent - student-type pranks or genuine mistakes, for example - businesses are most worried by multiple clickthroughs that are deliberate attempts to defraud the advertiser.

In business models where the publisher of a website that carries ads is paid for every click on those ads there is the opportunity for abuse. Annoying, but not a major problem is where a competitor might click on another businesses ads, so increasing that company's advertising costs. More serious, however, is the pay per click scam, which works in this way. In this scenario, Business A is either the site's publisher, or more likely, an agency that handles advertising accounts. Business B is the advertiser. Business A makes money every time a particular ad for business B is clicked because business B will pay business A for every clickthrough. For this example, the fee business B pays is 10p for every click on an advert that takes the user to their website. The corrupt agency or publisher - business A - then hires surfers - so called paid to read rings - to click on the ads, paying them 2p every time they do so [software can be used to make bogus clicks - normally using botnets - but it is easier to detect]. The result is 8p profit on every click for the unscrupulous business A. Not only does this mean a direct loss of money for business B - 10p per fraudulent click - but any metrics of that ad campaign will be flawed and so of no use for analysis. More sophisticated scammers will actually set up their own bogus sites, register with AdSense [for example] then have the phantom clickers visit the site and click on the links. Opportunists note however, the search engines are constantly upgrading their software to detect and prevent such scams.

Clicker's remorse     Perhaps rather self-explanatory, this term describes a users state of mind when they follow a certain online route [by clicking on links] only to find that resulting websites do not meet their needs. The relevance for digital marketing is that if the user follows a link from a web page and the result is clicker's remorse, then they lose faith in not only the advertiser, but the website that hosts the link or ad. Examples might include [a] clicking on a link on a search engine results page only to find the resulting page does not match the search query, or [b] an ad that turns out to be a form bait and switch.

Clickpath     see clickstream.

Clicks and bricks     see clicks and mortar.

Clicks and mortar     Businesses that trade both on- and off-line. The term derives from the concept that the business uses clicks [of the mouse] and mortar [referring to physical buildings] in its methods of trading in both consumer and industrial markets. Clicks and mortar businesses must have e-commerce enabled websites so that sales and/or orders can be completed online. A business that uses the web only as a medium for promotion or customer service is not considered to be such. See also bricks and mortar, pure online business and virtual business.

Clicks and mortar retailers     see clicks and mortar.

Clickstream     Also known as a clickpath, this is the route a visitor takes through a website. Such information is used in website analytics and also to assess persuasion architecture. The term is sometimes used in a wider context to represent a user's path through the web itself - that is, multiple websites rather than just one - sometimes referred to as being a user's digital footprint.

Clickstream-based email marketing     An email message or campaign that is based on user's clickstream data. Although many organizations will email customers with messages or offers based on a customers purchase history - because you bought A, we think you will like B - clickstream-based emails feature offers based on the web pages a user has visited recently - but not made a purchase. On a holiday website, for example, a customer might have spent time looking at hotels in, and flights to, Paris - so any email offer will feature that city.

Clickthrough     The term used to describe the action of clicking on a link, that is, you click through to the next web page. Although it refers to any link, clickthrough is most commonly used in assessing online advertising, see clickthrough rate.

Clickthrough rate [CTR]     The percentage of clickthroughs to the total number of times the link is downloaded. For example, if a banner ad has 100 impressions and 20 users click on that banner, the clickthrough rate is 20 per cent. The clickthrough rate is often the metric by which an ad campaign is judged. Practitioners in both online advertising and email marketing will use recognized industry specific clickthrough rates as a guide. These rates will vary, but for many email campaigns a clickthrough rate of single percentage figures is the norm, for some industries less than one percent being acceptable. This is compatible to offline direct marketing where promotional messages sent by post -junk mail - have traditionally had a poor response rate.

Click to call     The technology that facilitates pay per call advertising, click to call - as the name suggests - is when a user clicks on an ad [or website link] in order to have the advertiser ring the user. Naturally the user must enter their telephone number onto a form, and it is also normal for the user to stipulate when they expect the call - immediately, in ten minutes or in an hour, for example - the main advantage of the system is that each click to call response represents genuine lead generation. Although the main application is to have users respond to an online ad, the technology can be used as part of persuasive momentum or part of the sales conversion process. For example, if website analytics show that users might leave a purchase process at a certain point - perhaps an issue of size of the product -then they can be prompted to click to call, so allowing the telesales staff to close the deal. Note however, offering global coverage for click to call is problematic not only with regard to time zones, but also that the organization must employ multi-lingual sales staff.

Click-wrap     Also known as shrink wrap, this is where a customer must complete an action before they can continue with an online process - usually filling in a form or confirming terms and/or conditions in order to continue with a transaction. The phrase comes from the original practice where the user would have to scroll down the click-wrapped content to get to the link to the next page, so continuing the process. More recently however, the scrolling has been replaced by simply checking a box to confirm [whatever], the user being prevented from moving on to the next page in the process until a box is checked. It is the online method of having people agree that they have read the small print [even if they haven't actually done so], and is most commonly used for terms and conditions or disclaimers. It can also be used outside of actual transactions, but this is not common as it might hinder any persuasion architecture of the site.

Client     A software program that is used to contact and obtain data from a server software program on another computer, in layperson's terms, a computer that is connected to the server on a network. A web browser is commonly referred to as a client.

Cloaking     see search engine cloaking.

Closed loop reporting     An e-metric that measures the effectiveness of an online ad by tracking users who have viewed a specific ad to see if they responded to the objective of the ad - make a purchase, for example - that is, the loop is closed from first view to final response.

Cloud computing     This is where computing resources are shared with data being stored on a virtual platform, rather than on an individual hard drive. The data can then be accessed from any Internet-connected computer anywhere in the world.

Clustering     A search engine's practice of grouping pages from a website into one entry on the search engine results page [SERP] rather than having one organization fill the SERP with a multitude of pages from the same site. This is generally useful to the search engine user - early search returns would commonly have the first twenty or more returns all be different pages from the same website.

CMS     see content management software.

Co-browsing     In a digital environment this refers to having more than one person navigate a website at the same time - even though they are using different screens that may be located anywhere in the world. Although it is a common application in training/education provision, the significant digital marketing application for the software is where surfers can talk in real-time [via phone or chat line] with a sales assistant about products displayed on the website. The sales person uses he website navigation in the same way as they would with a customer in a store to show suitable products based on the conversation with from the customer.

Code     see source code.

Code Hunting     This is a practice that originated in the technical community but has developed into a marketing tool. For many years tech-savvy users have hunted around the web to find errors in website source code - hence code hunting - which lead the seeker to exclusive or 'insider' offers. For example, a code hunter might find an element of a website that is running a pre-launch test for a new product or service. By finding the code the hunter might take a lead in being able to order the product before it is widely available. Online marketers have noted the practice and now use it as part of marketing strategy. The model is that the product or brand deliberately releases code 'errors' so that enthusiastic consumers can follow a trail of clues - a kind of online treasure hunt - to the ultimate prize. Such is the nature of the participants that the prize is often the glory - so-called social currency - rather than monetary reward. The model relies heavily on viral marketing for its success and works particularly well for cultural brands that have a passionate following.

Code swapping     see search engine cloaking.

Collaborative filtering     With close associations to contextual targeting, and based on the concept of segmentation, collaborative filtering is the term used to describe a technical aspect of that concept. Software is used to analyse customer data, apply formulas acquired from behavioural sciences and then predict the products or services that customer might purchase to satisfy their needs. Any predictions made based on individual customer's profiles can then be applied to groups of customers - segments - with similar profiles.

Collaborative website     Sometimes known as a cooperative website, this is a site that is developed and published by more than one entity - though more than two is rare. An extension of the concept of co-branding, the idea is that combining the offering of two businesses customer needs will be better met. An example might be two small businesses that manufacturer and/or supply specialist equipment aimed at a specific market segment, where one product will compliment the other. The website could be developed as a portal in order to attract more visitors.

Commercial blog     This is a blog that is developed by an organization rather than an individual, normally as part of a branding strategy. Done properly, such an undertaking can be a definite advantage in developing consumer relationships. Done badly the contrary will be true. False blogging [flogging] is easily spotted, and the results can be the absolute opposite of what is desired. See also boss blog.

Commercial network    see networks [commercial and social] .

Commodity content     Website content that is generic in nature and freely available to anyone who might wish to use it. Such content is normally found on non-commercial sites and is often advisory in nature - it is common on non-commercial portals and in consumer generated content.

Common Gateway Interface     see CGI.

Common Short Codes [CSC]     Sometimes referred to as simply short codes, these are mobile phone numbers that are made up of significantly fewer numbers - usually four or five - than normal. CSC numbers are frequently used in after sales, promotions or applications such as charity donations, competition entries or voting in association with a TV programme. CSC is included here as the numbers can be used in association with digital marketing promotions or initiatives.

Community website     see virtual community.

Comparison advertising     Not as common in Europe as in the US, comparison advertising can appear online in paid placement advertising on search engines. This is where an advertiser selects keywords that are synonymous with their competitors, so that when users search on those keywords with the objective of finding the website of the company associated with that phrase, they get the ad for the company practicing comparison advertising. For example, company A is known for its tag line 'the best yagahit there is'. Company B, a competitor, buys the keyword listing for the phrase line 'the best yagahit there is'. The opportunity for comparison advertising now arises for company B. Having achieved high listings in the search engine results page [SERP], company B can make the descriptive text in the ad listing either non-complimentary to company B, or outright derogatory [ours is smaller/bigger/slower/faster than theirs]. There is an additional consideration, however. Search engines do not accept bids on branded keywords. As well as there being legal constraints where trademarks are involved, it would not go down too well with major ad revenue spenders if when their product was entered as a search term a derogatory website was listed top of the SERP.

Comparison search     see shopping comparison site.

Comparison site     Whereas shopping comparison sites seek out and compare prices for specified products, comparison sites make purchase comparisons for users based on personal data inputted by those users. Common applications include utility supply. For example, the customer inputs details of gas and electricity use over a calendar year and the comparison site calculates which supplier would provide best value for money in those circumstances. The comparison site generates income from the businesses to which it refers customers.

Compatibility     In computing terms, compatibility refers to the ability of hardware or software to work with versions that are older [backwards compatibility] or newer [[forwards compatibility].

Compression     The reduction of a file that takes up a lot of memory to one that takes up much less. It is used to reduce the size of files being sent by email. Compressed files are commonly known as zip files.

Conceptual search     A search for documents based on the concept of the search term rather than the specific words in the term. Rather than simply matching key words or phrases, conceptual search attempts to analyze document for meaning. Entering a phrase [or even an entire document] will return all documents that address related topics - even if they do not share the keywords with the query. For example, if the search is for a key legal phrase, the conceptual search will return all documents that refer to legal cases that pertain to the search term.

Confirmation page     At the end of a purchase transaction or an online registration the user should be presented with a page confirming the completion of the process - the confirmation page. Like many utilitarian web pages, the confirmation page - like the autoresponer - is an excellent vehicle for a marketing message, though the opportunity is often ignored.

Consumer-controlled advertising     A concept that suggests that using contemporary technology, the advertising that consumers actually see can be decided by those consumers - rather than being pushed at them, as with traditional media. The forbearer of this concept is online search, where the user decides the keywords on which they are going to search and so, effectively, dictates the ads they will be presented with on the search engine results page. Naturally, the marketer has matched ads with keywords in preparation for searchers using those terms, but nevertheless the delivery of those ads is determined by the consumer.

Consumer Generated Content [CGC]     Also sometimes referred to as user generated content [UGC] or consumer generated media [CGM], this is the contemporary, and online, version of conversational media. In an online context, CGC refers to web presences that exist for, and thrive on, the public's comments. For some users, it is such content that makes the web attractive. It is CGC / UGC that is the basis for social media. Research from the Edelman Trust Barometer [www.edelman.com] published in January 2006 found that in the US 'a person like me' was considered to be a more credible source of information about a company than doctors and academic experts - and verious surveys since have reached similar conclusions. In this case, 'a person like me' is someone who completes a product review - or similar - online. CGC is arguably the most significant effect the Internet has on marketing, it being a key element in the concept of helping the buyer to buy. The online manifestation of CGC comes in a number of public comment sites. Concentrating on how they impact on marketing, these include:

Note that as they are so easy to join and set up, many of the types of CGC content listed below can now be found on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

* Consumer protection sites - although normally published or promoted by a consumer protection organization, there may be elements of CGC on those sites. Any consumer input is likely, however, to be used as an example [of complaints, or a case study that is then followed up by the publishing organization] and so will be vetted before publication.

* Consumer review sites - sites set up as consumer review forums where consumers are encouraged to comment on goods and services they have purchased. Review sites are very popular in the travel, computing and electrical goods industries. Some consumer review

sites actually advocate that companies use the sites for consumer research and invite replies to customer complaints. It is common for these sites to include other content on the subject covered and so be considered to be portals.

* Chat rooms - although chat rooms may seem to be simply that - chitchat - the participants frequently chat about a product or service they have used or experienced. Even 'social' chat can be useful to marketers, comments about a movie or TV show, for example.

* Bulletin boards - rather like chat rooms, the comments left on bulletin boards may not be overtly about products, services or brands, but that does not mean that those messages might not provide information useful to commercial organizations.

* Blogs - almost by definition, people who write blogs are outgoing by nature. Blogs could be specifically about products or services, or it could just be that the blogger has had a good or bad experience with a product or service and wants to tell the world about it. Blogs are particularly significant because many are picked up by search engines for their indexes. This means that a customer's rant about a brand on their own rather obscure blog could be picked up by the search engines and appear in their listings when someone searches on that brand name.

* Cyberbashing sites - by their very nature these sites are made up of criticism from unsatisfied customers - some of them very inflammatory, even libelous.

* Virtual community websites - where, on part of the site, members might comment on a particular product or service that is relevant to that community's shared interest.

* Online social shopping - where like minded individuals give opinions and tips to fellow shoppers.

* Question and answer websites - where users pose, and answer, questions.

Such is the nature of the web that one site - perhaps a portal - could address more than one of those features listed above.

Organizations should constantly monitor CGC sites both as part of an online reputation management strategy and as market research - perhaps as part of a marketing information system. Also Significant for the online marketer is the use of CGM sites for hosting advertising. That many sites - or pages within them - are subject specific, makes them excellent for targeted advertising.

Consumer Generated Media [CGM]     See Consumer Generated Content [CGC]

Consumer Protection [Distance Selling] Regulations 2000 [DSRs]     Significant to digital marketing because these EU regulations apply to any organization that sells goods or services to consumers through an organized distance selling scheme where there is no face-to-face contact between the business and the consumer - which includes the Internet. Although online auctions are not covered by the DSRs, fixed price sales through 'buy now' features on auction sites [as used on eBay] are not exempt because the sale is not concluded by process of auction. The DSRs applies only to B2C transactions, B2B trading is not covered. See also Electronic Commerce [EC Directive] regulations 2002 [ECRs] .

Consumer protection sites    see consumer generated media.

Consumer review sites     see consumer generated content .

Content [1]     All the text, pictures, sound, and other data on a website.

Content [2]     Specifically, the textual content of a website - as opposed to images. There is an important differentiation between textual content and copy, and for that reason the two are addressed together in this section. The textual content of a website is that part of the site that the publisher wishes the user to read. Content would include such things as contact details, articles, FAQ lists, company details [about us], shipping details, and privacy policies. Content should answer customer's questions and solve problems. Copy, on the other hand, is text that persuades the reader to do something that will meet the objectives of the site - place an order, for example. That it is often called sales copy betrays its origins. The most obvious copy is the call to action, but these actions could well be to encourage users to go to and read [more] content - privacy or company details, for example - that will add to the user's confidence in the website. However, the line between content and copy is often blurred, and the distinction may vary from site to site. For example, a product description could be part content [description] part copy [order now, few in stock]. That many website developers do not recognize where the distinction lays is a clear indication that both content and copy writing is a specialist occupation. In the early days of the web, content and copy was largely ignored as an important element of digital marketing - and for many sites this is still the case, though successful digital marketing practitioners assigning significance to both is prompting many website publishers to give them more credence. Note that an email that is part of an email marketing campaign will also contain both content and copy, though because of its nature - direct marketing - is likely to contain more of the latter. See also content contextualization, fascinations and false logic.

Content affiliates     see affiliate marketing.

Content aggregator     A software application that retrieves content from websites for publication on another. Website publishers can run the software themselves or employ aggregation services to undertake the task. Note that this is not theft of copyrighted work because the supplier will have authorized its syndication - a fee might be involved. The most common type of information to be aggregated is news, so allowing a website to have up-to-date news reports on their web pages without having to gather and report that news.

Content contextualization     In a digital marketing environment this refers to the writing [or re-writing] of content so that it is in context with the media in which it will be read - that is, online. It is common practice, though not good practice, for website's content to be taken ver batim from literature prepared for another medium. The content in printed brochures for example, is not written in a way that readers can interact with it - as is possible using links online. Grammatical differences also exist. For example, websites exist in the present and so content in the present tense is in context as the customer reads it. Printed brochures can be in circulation for months [even years], therefore talking about now is not appropriate. See also content [2] .

Content management     In printed publications the job title of someone who undertakes the duties of content management is the editor. The offline editor's job is to ensure that the right content is getting to the right reader at the right time at the right cost. This is, effectively, the same job that the website content manager performs.

Content management software [CMS]     A term that is something of a misnomer in that the software doesn't manage content, it only simplifies the process of accessing websites and changing the content - but that content must still be managed by a human being. See also content management.

Content marketing     Although the tactic of creating content to attract potential customers is not new - see Bait piece the concept of content marketing has become increasingly popular in recent years - so much so that it is now recognised as a discipline in its own right. Defined by the Content Marketing Institute (contentmarketinginstitute.com) as; 'a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer action', the practice has seen increased relevance due mainly to changes in search engine algorithms and the growth in social media which have placed an emphasis on the quality of online content.

This focus on the importance of quality content is, in itself, a result of consumers blanking out traditional marketing messages and focusing on information they find useful. The objectives of content marketing can include increased web traffic, direct sales, customer retention, brand awareness, customer acquisition, lead generation or thought leadership and it is equally valid in both B2B and B2C markets.

Strategic content marketing might include the specific development of content to be published in such formats as: social media (eg tweets, Facebook entries), blogs, articles, white papers, case studies, white papers, research reports, guides, webinars, shared documents, podcasts, Question and Answer (Q&A) pages, videos, forums, infographics and PR. It is because all of this content - which is not necessarily hosted on the organization's website - can bring visitors and links into the site that it is sometimes referred to as inbound marketing.

Note that some of this description is taken from my book, Digital Marketing a Practical Approach.

Content rich     A search engine term that relates to the fact that algorithms give higher ranking to pages which contain the keyword or term for which a user is searching - that is, it is rich in content. Search engine optimizers should beware, however. To cram a page with keywords simply to attract search engines might make the content unintelligible to human readers, so negating the efforts of getting the web page high in search engine rankings in the first place.

Content targeting     see contextual and behavioural targeting.

Contextual and behavioural targeting     An offline concept that has transferred - and is practiced extensively - online. Applications like Google's AdSense are built around the concept - which is sometimes called collaborative filtering. The targeting element refers to the targeting of potential customers with promotions that will [hopefully] be relevant, and so appealing to that segment of the market. Online that promotion is invariably advertising. Contextually targeted adverts are placed where the adverts are in context with the content of the host website or page. This is an extension of content targeting, though the two are related. With content targeting the ads match the content - tools being advertised on a gardening-advice website, for example. Although the tools and gardening mix could still be applied to contextual targeting, this model can go further. Ads for creams that alleviate back pain on a gardening website perhaps. In both content and contextual advertising the same adverts are presented for all visitors. This is in contrast to behavioural targeting where the presented ads take into account the online behaviour of the user and so are personalized. Behavioural segmentation might be based on such things as usage frequency [for example occasional or frequent], usage status [that is non-user, user, lapsed user], occasion for purchase [a gift, for example], or benefits sought [for example, convenience or status]. Whereas contextual targeting is relatively simple [requiring knowledge only of the websites content], successful behavioural targeting demands more information about the user before they can be truly targeted either individually or as part of a segment. The data cannot be collected ad hoc, it must gathered in a formal, structured manner and it must then be stored in such a way that it is easily extracted and analysed. This practice is a very close relative of database marketing - though that discipline is normally associated with direct marketing, rather than advertising. The gathering of information required for accurate behavioural targeting can be overt [personal data on a subscription form for example], covert [for example using adware] or something between the two [cookies, for example].

Conversational media     The offline forerunner of consumer generated media [CGM], conversational media has been around for as long as the printed media - though always as a minor sideline to publishing. Newspapers, for example, have always invited comment in reader's-letters type forums. However, due to advances in ICT it is now not only more accessible, but easier than ever to participate in. The popularity of its contemporary manifestation - consumer generated media - has resulted in it becoming the main event [rather than a sideline] for many websites.

Conversion     The term used to describe the action when a website visitor completes whatever the objective of the website is, that is they convert from being a potential customer to being an actual customer. For example, a visitor ordering a product or subscribing to a newsletter would be a conversion.

Conversion by acquisition     A website analytic, part of a conversion path analysis where the ad campaign or source that a customer used to first visit a website is recorded so that any subsequent purchase might be credited to that source. For example, a TV ad might feature a specific URL - landing page - where the customer can gain more information or place an order. If the customer then visits the site and makes a purchase, the TV ad is identified, and credited, as providing the lead - even if the purchase is made some time after the TV ad aired.

Conversion funnel     An online extension of the sales funnel - where many potential customers enter the funnel [at its widest end], but most drop out as they pass through the funnel [to its narrowest point], with only a few making a purchase. The conversion funnel is by its very nature, linear, with customers having a single path to follow from entering until their exit. As a result, the conversion funnel can be used to help with the performance analysis of the website. The conversion funnel is made up a series of stages that together equal the desired result - because the user follows a path down the funnel, the concept is also referred to as conversion path analysis. At each stage the prospect chooses to either continue to the next stage, or leave the process - the analogy of losing customers to a pipe losing water has led to the concept sometimes being called the leaking pipe. By analysing the actions of users at each stage, the website publisher can assess user behaviour and address problems where they are identified. As with the sales funnel, a successful segmentation strategy would help to increase the ratio of buyers to prospects by putting only genuine prospects in the top of the funnel. Targeted advertising, both off- and online, should drive only those users who have a real interest in the product or service on offer. The conversion funnel is the vendor-side view of the purchase funnel. Note however, that the conversion funnel differs from persuasion architecture which considers the conversion to be a more fluid process, with customers requiring continuous persuasion as they engage in the purchase process.

Conversion path analysis     see conversion funnel.

Conversion Process     see persuasion architecture.

Conversion rate     An element of website analytics, conversion rate calculates the ratio of total numbers of site visitors to the total number of conversions.

Cookies     These are electronic calling-cards that are left on the hard drive of the user's computer when they visit a website. Essentially, a cookie facilitates the recording of data about the user and their visit[s] to the website that issued that cookie. They have a number of valid reasons for existing. Login cookies record details of user's personal login details - facilitating sites such as Amazon to deliver personalized welcome pages when a registered user returns to the site [using the same computer]. Advertising cookies are left on websites by downloaded ads. These allow future ads to be served based on the user's previous online behaviour - so improving clickthrough rates. Analytic cookies help companies understand traffic patterns on websites. Note that cookie is also used as a verb, for example to cookie a site's visitors.

Cookie window     When a cookie is delivered it is can be pre-programmed to stay active for a given period of time, this is called the cookie window. The window is most commonly used in advertising analytics where the response to a specific ad is being monitored and so the cookie needs to be active only for the period of that ad campaign.

Copy     see content [2] .

Copyright     An exclusive grant from the government that gives the owner the right to reproduce a work, in whole or in part, and to distribute, perform, or display it to the public in any form or manner - including the Internet. The owner also has the right to control ways in which their material can be used. Copyright is an unregistered right [unlike trademarks], coming into effect as soon as something that can be protected is created on paper, on film, via sound recording, or as an electronic record on the internet. Whilst it is not legally necessary in the UK, it is advisable to warn others against copying any work by marking it with the copyright symbol - © - followed by the owner's name and the date. Online, copyright covers all website content including text and images, as well as the source code of the website.

Co-registration     A tactic used in an opt-in email marketing strategy, co-registration is a way of having users opt-in to receiving emails, or subscribing to newsletters, that are in addition to the one they have originally agreed. The concept is relatively easy to implement. When a visitor arrives at the page in which they are agreeing to receive email or subscribe to a newsletter, they are also offered the option to sign up for other emails or newsletters as well, normally simply having to check the relevant boxes to indicate which they agree to receive.

Corporate cyber stalking     see cyber stalking.

Corporate email servers    Whilst most Internet users will send their email through an Internet service provider [ISP], larger organizations, corporations and institutions - Universities, for example - may have their own email servers. Although they do take resources to maintain, they can be more easily adapted for the specific uses required by the owner-organization [spam filters can be more specific, for example].

Cost per acquisition     The total marketing expenses divided by the total number of new customers acquired. In a digital marketing environment, expenses are normally those incurred online only, though they could incorporate offline costs as well.

Cost per order     The total marketing expenses divided by total value of orders In a digital marketing environment, expenses are normally those incurred online only, though they could incorporate offline costs as well

Cost per visit     The total marketing expenses divided by total number of visits to a website orders In a digital marketing environment, expenses are normally those incurred online only, though they could incorporate offline costs as well

Cost per / pay per -     It is worth noting that for the following entries and in many other elements of e-metrics cost per - and pay per - [for example cost per order, pay per click] are used almost at random. Effectively the two terms mean the same - that is, how much the advertiser pays per click or how much each click costs the advertiser. Quite why pay or cost is applied to different terms can only be down to custom and practice. Perhaps the future will see finite definitions for these terms, but in the mean time they are inter-changeable.

CPA [cost per action]     see pay per click.

Cost Per Engagement     A metric in online advertising where the advertiser pays only if the viewer engages with the ad [rather than simply sees it]. Engagement metrics are normally time related, such as the time spent on a web page or site or whether a video or podcast was played. However, more specific actions that suggest engagement can be applied, for example, commenting on a blog or adding a review.

Countdown ad     Popular - and effective - in online advertising, a countdown ad tells potential customers that a special offer will end at a given time e.g. 'only 3 days left to save 20%'.

CPM [cost per thousand impressions]     A method of charging for pay per impression advertising. The 'M' - the abbreviation of the Latin meaning a thousand [mille] - is used because ad impressions are sold in blocks of one thousand.

CPC [cost per click]     see pay per click.

Crawler     see spider.

Creatives     A term that has been used in advertising for some time, it has been adopted for digital marketing when referring to website development. Creatives are the people who come up with the ideas [they create] that make a website different, normally in an aesthetic context. They would work alongside techies who would handle the technical aspects of the site's development. Pushing the grammar envelope still further, any work completed by creatives is covered by the noun creative - as in, 'that image is a creative'.

Creeping featurism     Although the term is founded in soft- and hardware development it can be applied to website development. In essence, it means that features are added to a site because they can be - and not to meet any commercial objective or satisfy users better.

CRM [customer relationship management]     Customer relationship management is based on the assumption that there is a relationship between the business or the brand and the customer. This is a relationship that needs to be managed both through the individual buying stages and in the longer term. CRM is very much related to fostering customer loyalty and, in the longer term, customer retention.

CRM can be used in call-centre support and direct marketing operations; software systems assist in the support of customer service representatives and give customers alternative means by which they can communicate with the business [such as mail, email, social media, telephone etc.]. Some sophisticated CRM software programs have email response systems which process incoming emails and determine whether they warrant a personal response or an automated response. Recent figures indicate that systems such as this can handle around fifty per cent of the requests from customers [typically requests for additional information, passwords, and responses to email marketing] .

Other CRM software systems incorporate the facility for customer representatives to take part in live chat rooms or co-browsing, offering the business a less formal environment in which to make contact with customers. CRM software can also queue customers on the basis of their profiles, by requesting that the customer logs in to the website. It is then possible to pass the customer on to individuals in the customer service team, who may be better suited to dealing with customers who share similar profiles. CRM software also provides the facility to maintain and update a database of information about each customer [in other words a case history].

CRM is included here because the impact of e-technology on the practice is significant, improving both communications with customers and collection of data. See also e-CRM.

Cross linking     Linking to content on a website from pages within that site. An example would be to have a link to the site's home page on each page of the site. It should help the user to navigate the site and so increase the chances of the objectives for the site being met.

Cross platform     see platform.

Cross selling     A close relative of up selling, cross selling has been around offline for as long as sales have been made. Cross selling involves the sales person offering related or associated products to increase sales. Done properly, the practice is seen by the buyer as being part of good service - it is annoying for the customer to arrive home with their purchase, only to find they need a particular part to make it work properly. Had the salesperson advised of the necessity for the yagahit the customer would have been grateful. Naturally, loading the customer with useless accessories has the reverse effect. Online, carefully prepared software programs can take the place of the attentive salesperson, with an automated notice of the need for an accessory appearing when a purchase is made. Amazon take the online application further with their 'customers who bought this book, also bought this one … ' facility.

Crowdsourcing     A play on the business term outsourcing, this is the practice of having members of public perform work for an organization, often for little or no financial reward. Although the practice existed previously [some argue that it is a derivative of open source], the term crowdsourcing - and its subsequent popularity - is credited to a Wired magazine article published in June 2006. Often cited as one of the first proponents of crowdsourcing, image provider iStockphoto [www.istockphoto.com] invites contributions from amateur photographers, indexes them, and make those images available to others for a fee. Although each contributor receives a royalty, it is a pittance compared to that which professional photographers and publishers would expect.

Cue words     Also known as atomic phrases, these are words, terms or phrases that alert search engines to the context of a searcher's submission. 'Biography', for example, added to a person's name in a search box prompts the search engine to look for anything tagged as being biographical about the person, rather than simply returning every web page that has that persons name in it. For example, searching on 'David Beckham' would return every web page that contains a report of any game he has played in as well as every article published about his personal life. Adding 'biography' will put pages relative to his biography at the top of the millions of returns that his name produces.

CSS     see cascading style sheets.

Customer evangelists     In a word-of-mouth context, customer evangelists are those individuals who not only spread the message the widest, but are also the ones who can exert most influence on their friends and associates. Although they are targeted at the beginning of viral marketing campaigns, evangelists exist outside any endeavours of marketers. When customers act as evangelists, it is because they have received excellent service from the organization [or brand] and are willing to put their own reputations on the line when they recommend that service. Customer evangelists are often early adopters [in the product life cycle] and considered to be influencers of others in their buyer behaviour. Although they can be solicited for testimonials, evangelists normally preach in their own social circles, though in a digital marketing environment, it is often such individuals who are inclined towards blogs and consumer generated content. Businesses should also be aware that whilst offline the customer evangelist is expected to deliver only a positive endorsement, online they may preach a negative message - see cyberbashing. See also social proof.

Customer relationship management     see CRM.

Cyber [as a prefix]     Although the word cyber doesn't exist in its own right, the term as a prefix indicates a relationship to computers. For the first 10 years of the commercial Internet, and probably owing much to the use of the term cyberspace, prefixing any word with cyber gave that word an association with cyberspace, the Internet or being online. For example, a cybercafé was a café that had Internet access available to its customers and cyber-law deals with those laws that or specific to the Internet. More recently, however, the term has become less popular. See also online [as a prefix] and e [as a prefix] .

Cyberattack     see cyberbashing.

Cyberbashing     Also known as a cyberattack or a cybersmear campaign, this is the application of Internet technology in expressing a poor opinion of an organization, brand or product. An element of consumer generated media, cyberbashing can range from fairly mild comments of frustration to actionable liable. Cyberbashing was originally practised by setting up a website - commonly using a domain name that ends in sucks, for example companynamesucks.com [note that from 2015, the domain name suffix .sucks has been available] and filling it with content that criticises the target organization. More elaborate cyberbashing sites include forums to allow fellow disappointed customers to add their comments. Whilst legal action can be taken against outright untruths, genuine accounts of actual events are far more difficult to censor. Because of the nature of the cyberbashing sites - pure textual content which feature the company/brand/product name frequently that appeals to their algorithms - it is not unusual for cybersmears to appear high in search engine results pages. More proactive companies will monitor cyberbashing sites as part of online reputation management and move to diffuse potential situations by either contacting the complaining individual, responding in the forums or setting up response sites.

Since the rise in popularity of social media, various platforms in that media have become more popular in hosting anti-organization content.

Note that in non-commercial applications, cyberbashing if often used to describe cyberbullying.

cyberbullying     the online version of bullying - where the Internet is used as a medium to bully others.

Cybercrime     The generic term for any crime perpetrated using Internet technology. However, it is often more closely related to online credit card fraud and the theft of card holder's details - which is sometimes referred to as cyberfraud.

Cyberfraud     see cybercrime.

Cyberjockey [cyber-jockey]     A term from the early days of the web when cyber was commonly used as a prefix to describe any Internet related activity. A cyberjockey - jockey being more likely related to disc-jockey than a horse rider - is someone who spends long periods of time in chat rooms, discussion forums or newsgroups and addresses issues raised by other users by answering questions or providing assistance in subjects on which they are knowledgeable or even expert.

Cyberloafing     Also called cyberslacking, this is a term used to describe an employee who is on the Internet - surfing the web or sending personal emails - when they should be working.

Cyber Monday     Also known as Black Monday this is a US nickname for the Monday after Thanksgiving [the last Thursday in November]. The term stems from the long tradition in America of the day after Thanksgiving being one of, if not the, busiest shopping day of the year - historically the day when high sales pushed money-losing stores into the black. The day has been traditionally dubbed Black Friday. However, research has shown it is the Monday after Thanksgiving that is the peak day for online transactions - hence Black Monday [piggybacking on the Black Friday theme], and more recently Cyber Monday. Many online retailers gear up for the day by running specific promotions on and around the day. The three subsequent Mondays after Cyber Monday [running up to Christmas day] also see significant online sales and so have been dubbed Echo Mondays. Whilst it is an American tradition, any online store - no matter where it is based - which hopes to do business with customers in the US should look to maximize sales at this time of the year. From around 2014, the 'tradition' has been taken up by offline shops outside the USA.

Cybersmear campaign     see cyberbashing.

Cyberspace    A term originated by author William Gibson in his 1984 novel Neuromancer, the word is often used to describe the whole range of information resources available through computer networks in general and the Internet in particular. It was very popular in the early days of the commercial Internet, but its use has rescinded in recent years.

Cyber stalking     Although Google often takes the blame in this concept, a commonly used term being Google-stalking, the ubiquitous search engine is far from being the only guilty party in this practice. Cyber stalking takes the cyber-check to the next, more sinister, level. An excellent definition of the practice comes from Bocij and McFarlane [2002] - 'A group of behaviours in which an individual, group of individuals or organization, uses information and communications technology [ICT] to harass one or more individuals. Such behaviours may include, but are not limited to, the transmission of threats and false accusations, identity theft, data theft, damage to data or equipment, computer monitoring, the solicitation of minors for sexual purposes and confrontation. Harassment is defined as a course of action that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would think causes another reasonable person to suffer emotional distress.' As this definition intimates, cyber stalking can be against an entity - an organization or corporation, for example - as well as an individual. Bocij P, McFarlane L, [2002]. Online harassment: towards a definition of cyberstalking. Prison Service Journal, number 139 [February], HM Prison Service, London.

Cybersquatting     The practice of registering a domain name with the aim of selling it at a profit, normally to the organization that has some stake in the name. Although domain names can still be squatted, that few names remain unregistered means that new examples are limited to new products, brands or companies. This is in contrast to the early days of the web when the early bird really did catch the domain name worm. Before businesses had even become aware of the Internet, let alone domain names, unscrupulous individuals saw the opportunity to extort money from organizations by registering the names of companies, brands and products. Although existing and new laws gave organizations legal recourse to recover the names, many simply paid up to avoid protracted, and expensive, law suits. One such law is the US Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999, which covers dot com names. In other parts of the word, however, there is no such law and action has to be taken on the use of a domain name rather than the actual registering of it. One way that cybersquatters can pick up new names is drop catching domain names whose registrations have lapsed. A close relative to the cybersquatter is the typosquatter. Although the typosquatter will normally have a different purpose, they may take advantage of the general population's poor typing ability [see fat finger typos] and look to sell to organizations domain names of miss-spellings of their brand or products. See also domain name parking [2] , a practice sometimes incorrectly referred to as cybersquatting.

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