XML: A Solution To Online Ads

By: Danny Wirken

Throughout the history of advertising, it has always been the prerogative of the advertiser as to the form and features of their ads. The media, however, set limits as far as conventions are concerned.

Publications have to be confined within the dimensions of their pages - or the thickness of the folds for some enterprising ad artworks - and keep to the colors they can print in their presses. Sometimes, too, ads suffer the printing flaws of overbleeding, smudges and ink seeping through pages. That is why printing technologies have been developed to avoid these from happening, but they happen still.

Audio ads are limited to what sounds can do and leave much to the imagination. Radios, podcasts, and other media for sounds are hampered by transmission problems and the ads delivered to listeners are bespeckled with ambient noises and scratches from interference.

The best and most effective media of the lot has always been audio-visual. Since the advent of television, it has grabbed the attention of viewers everywhere. It has come to the point where broadcast media holds the key to trends in fashion, lifestyle, and even politics.

In this age of Internet and online advertising, all these forms are being used - still visuals like those in print, audio like those in radio and audio-visuals like those in television. This affords the advertiser - known as the publisher on the Internet - more leeway for creativity in the new media, but is there really?

Search engines like Google and Yahoo have long been the most popular websites. Thus it is most fitting for these companies to be the most popular avenues of ads. Exposure is their leverage but advertisers have been given constraints.

For example, Google Ads are limited to small graphics and text only. For some reason, there have not been much of the ads using the most important of the advantages of the Internet - audio-visual presentation. History proves that audio-visuals capture attention more effectively than a few words or a still picture, except for a few that used the few words as the entire graphic itself. This can be seen in the popularity of television, movies and videos.

Creative experts in the advertising industry know very well that splashes of color, larger than live images and fantastic displays actually make people stop and look, perhaps even listen to an ad. In a media like the Internet, all these are possible. When then are these limited to websites rather than ads?

On the other hand, Yahoo! Partners have more flexibility. But then, this flexibility is still limited. Movements in ads are confined to a series of only a few stills, hardly the awesome display one has been used to on television and theater screens.

At the same time, publishers or advertisers are required to follow strict rules of dimensions and file sizes. Unlike in the print media, there can be no foldouts or die-cutting. Ads are limited to the space given, nothing more.

To an extent, this is quite understandable since the ad will not be displayed well if it overloads the system of the viewers. But does this mean the formats can only be gif's, jpg's or texts? How about flash? How about other languages and tools?

This low maximum limit has given rise to the popularity of pop-ups - those irritatingly pesky boxes that use up more resources of viewers' systems. Hence, just as popular are the pop-up blockers many, many net-savvy people use. Just the same, even pop-ups are limited to what JavaScript and html can do.

On the other hand, there are ads that can be rendered using a very robust programming language called XML - a more sophisticated tool that can define objects in a program and use these objects as basis for references in the program's features. With such a powerful tool, couldn't this be an ideal means of creating visually appealing ads?

With XML in an ad, dynamic presentation will be more than just the few frames used in gifs. At the same time, revising and updating the script for the ads would be easier for the one who programmed it - simply use the objects and their definitions again.

As XML is a key in RSS (Really Simple Syndication), this would also mean that XML ads can be controlled by the publisher and made more dynamic. RSS is the same tool that news sites use in disseminating their feeds to other sites. It is also used in blogs. It shows the same feeds in the same format as the original source. Hence an RSS source can have several ads in several sites using its own look albeit updated even on a daily basis.

This is where independent advertising spaces on the Internet have the advantage. Ads developed with any kind of script - HTML, XML or otherwise - can be deployed and used, but to a lesser audience. Publishers can then implement a fully multi-media ad online in a page that will allow them the flexibility of using tools and languages that they cannot use in Google and Yahoo! thereby using the full potential of the Internet to their advantage.

Advertisers now are at a quandary: it has come down to a choice between substance and reach. Spaces and exposure afforded by Yahoo! and Google are decidedly farther and wider in reach than other sites. Google Ads have made this more effective by feeding pages with ads that are relevant to the contents therein. In a way, it reaches out to the most number of available spaces while still keeping to the niche of the publisher.

This niche is narrowed down by the choice of actual sites where publishers can put their ads. Still this niche means limiting the ad's exposure.

Computers and The Internet
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