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The Web has opened up myriad possibilities for the historical study of advertising. Comprehensive collections of advertisements draw together resources that would take a single researcher an eternity to compile. Specialized Web collections—ranging from notices for escaped slaves to celebrations of recent advertising campaigns—supplement the general sites. Old advertisements formerly available only in research libraries (and not always there, since many libraries cut out advertising sections or front and rear covers before binding popular magazines) or (haphazardly) in “coffee table” books are now accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.

But this commercial cornucopia has limitations. Most collections of advertisements concentrate on print ads, and in particular those in national magazines. Access to television advertising (certainly the dominant medium since the 1950s) is more scarce; most sites feature current commercials, not older ones. Another technical problem results from the digitizing process and the graphic formats used. Sometimes, ad details don’t appear or are difficult to discern. This may serve the purpose of the website perfectly well, but it hinders scholarly research.

Online advertising is simply advertising that is done over the Internet. For those interested in such a strategy, there are a number of options and some have found a way to advertise online through things that do not appear to be traditional advertising mediums. While the effects of online advertising are still being studied, it is a rapidly-growing segment of the advertising dollar.
As more people turn to the Internet as a source for daily news, socialization and communication, more advertising dollars are likely to be spent. In fact, in a period of five years, from 2006 to 2010, online advertising is expected to increase from 6 percent of all money spent for advertising, to 12 percent or more. That could signify the beginning of a fundamental shift in how all advertising dollars are spent.
Online advertising is also quickly becoming a serious force for other types of advertising media to deal with. Newspapers and magazines all over the world are facing a number of different challenges, including loss of ad revenue. Many attribute some of those struggles to online advertising, which is not only taking a share of the advertising, but a share of the audience as well. This is especially true of the young adult male audience, which is a target demographic of many advertisers.
However, newspapers and magazines are not the only media dealing with lower revenue. The remarkable thing about online advertising is its ability to cut across the spectrum. For example, online ads can look like television commercials or print ads. The possibilities are limitless. Further, because of hypertext linking, advertisers have the power to transport potential buyers directly to their site, or a site selling their products.
In some cases, online advertising may not look like advertising at all. There was one case where a video was put on an online video sharing Web site supposedly showing popcorn being popped by radiation put out from mobile phones. While this was later revealed as a hoax, the company that put the video online received a substantial amount of free, or nearly free, publicity. The company sold headset devices meant to help limit an individual's exposure to radiation.

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