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

book cover: key concepts in 

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

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

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

Dark     In the online environment dark is used to describe an entity or someone who does not participate in social media or community websites. It is most commonly used as a criticism when there is no response to comments made by others in blogs, chat rooms and so on - as in 'company x was dark on the subject, adding to the frustrations of dissatisfied customers'.

Database     A collection of data stored in a computerized format. See also data warehouse.

Database Marketing     A form of direct marketing using databases of customers in combination with other databases [products, suppliers, distributors] to generate personalized communications which drive targeted marketing efforts at both strategic and tactical levels. Compared to other forms of marketing [branding for example] the analysis of outcomes of database marketing efforts is relatively straightforward, for this reason it can be described as 'marketing with measurable results'. Database marketing involves the gathering, storage, and mining of data that can be used to provide information on customers that might be useful in future marketing efforts. Technology has provided the marketer with the means to collect and store masses of data on all their customers. The complexity of any such operation means that only the largest companies can handle data warehousing in-house, with the majority out-sourcing to specialists. For successful online database marketing [as well as contextual and behavioural targeting ] the e-marketer might gather data specific to the individual's online habits - such; as how often does the user access the web? [every day, once a week], how long do they spend online in a single session? [ten minutes, an hour], when do they go online? [weekdays, weekends], at what time[s] of the day do they go online? [morning, evening], what type of access do they have? [dial-up, broadband], and where do they access the web? [home, work, library]. See also programmatic marketing.

Database of Intentions     Term used by John Battelle in his 2005 book, 'The Search', to describe the phenomenon of how information is now gathered and held. Battelle's definition of the Database of Intentions is: 'the aggregate results of every search ever entered, every result list ever tendered, and every path taken as a result. Battelle's book is, essentially, about how search technology has, is, and will change both business and our culture.
Battelle, J. [2005] The Search Nicholas Brealey Publishing. Boston.

Data cleansing     Also known as data-scrubbing, this is the process of detection and removal [or possibly correction] of data that is no longer accurate and/or useful - that is, it is dirty- from a data warehouse.

Data mart     A small data warehouse.

Data mining    see data warehouse.

Data packet    see packet.

Data Protection Act 1998 [DPA]     The Data Protection Act is built around eight principles which state that all data must be:
* Processed fairly and lawfully
* Obtained & used only for specified and lawful purposes
*Adequate, relevant and not excessive
*Accurate, and where necessary, kept up to date
*Kept for no longer than necessary
*Processed in accordance with the individuals rights
*Kept secure
*Transferred only to countries that offer adequate data protection.

Although these are legal requirements, most not only make common business sense, but would also represent good online trading practice. The last point is of particular relevance to the online trader. Whilst the others are equally relevant to offline businesses, they would be unlikely to transfer data away from their own trading country. Online however, this might be common practice - particularly if the organization has servers located around the world. It is worth noting that whilst the UK has the Data Protection Act, and similar laws exist in Europe [there is an EU Data Protection Directive], other countries in the world - including the USA - have nothing comparable.

Data warehouse     A collection of data [a database] designed to support management decision making. Development of a data warehouse includes development of systems to extract data from operating systems, so called data mining. Data mining goes beyond simply searching for specific data within the database - looking for new and perhaps unknown patterns within the data collection. From such data, information can be developed on [for example] customer behaviour that may allow the organization to predict future actions and so be proactive in its planning. See also database marketing.

Daughter window     see pop up window.

Dayparting     Also known as ad scheduling, dayparting is a descendent of the daypart session and follows the same basic concept - limiting ads to certain times of the day - but does not involve dominance of the medium being used. Google's Adsense [from where the term ad scheduling comes], allows advertisers to select times of the day or days of the week in which they want ads to appear. This could be used, for example, by an advertiser who thinks that a certain TV show will prompt users to go online and search for terms relative to that programme - and so they might limit advertising to times or days immediately after its transmission.

Daypart session     A form of ad presentation where a single advertiser dominates all the advertising on a publisher's website for a pre-determined time of the day. Although the innovation is widely attributed to the New York Times [NYT], several organizations had already dabbled with the concept prior to NYT's adoption of it in the summer of 2002., for example, had sold its Friday afternoon advertising space to Anheuser Busch, allowing the brewer to feature a Friday afternoon happy hour on the site. The dayparts are; early morning, daytime, evening, late night, and weekends. See also dayparting. This definition is based on, or cites, content by the same author in Online marketing - a Customer Led Approach, by Gay, Charlesworth & Essen [2007] Oxford University Press. UK

Decryption    see encryption.

Dedicated server     A server that hosts a single, or very few, websites which are normally owned by the publisher of the sites. Few websites will generate sufficient business to make the investment worthwhile, but all the major online brands will have banks of dedicated servers for their websites. Although the purchase price of servers continues to fall, significant expertise is necessary to keep them running. If a dedicated server is required without the accompanying hassle, they can be hired from application service providers. There are a number of advantages to hosting a website on a dedicated server. Namely, that not sharing the facility should result in:

* Faster download speed for the user
* Less chance of down-time
* More security
* Less chance of appearing on a search engine blacklist.

Deep linking     The practice of linking to a website's interior pages, rather than its homepage. The link could come from one of three primary sources:

* A search engine results page - if the website has been optimized for organic listing specific keyword searches will take searchers to pages with the relevant content.
* Another website - the link is to a page with specific content, rather than the homepage, as a benefit to that website's visitors.
* An ad for the company - rather than taking respondents [to the ad] to the homepage, they are taken to a page that is part of the persuasive architecture connected to the ad, normally called a landing page.

Defacto Standard [Proprietary Standard]     Adopted widely in digital marketing, this term is used to describe a practice or standard that has evolved and been endorsed by industry or government.

Default     In computing this refers to the pre-selected settings of equipment, electronic devices or software when they are manufactured - that is, default settings that operate unless instructed otherwise. The term is used when those settings are optional and can be changed by the owner/operator after purchase.

Defensive domain name registration     The practice of registering domain names that are similar to that being registered so as to prevent other individuals or entities registering them - usually for nefarious or mischievous reasons. Defensive registration might include registering the domain name with multiple suffixes [for example .co.ok and .com] and similar spellings - and misspellings - of the name. See also cybersquatting, typosquatting, cyber-bashing sites and fat finger typo.

Defensive keyword marketing     The practice of purchasing keywords in paid placement advertising on search engines to counteract negative publicity. For example - if rumours abound that company A's turbo yagahits are faulty, then company A buys the search engine keyword phrase 'faulty turbo yagahits', and having achieved high listings in the search engine results page, have the link go to a specially prepared web page that refutes - or responds to - the accusation.

Deferred conversion     An element of website analytics, this is where a user visits a site and does not buy anything at that time - but returns later and does make a purchase.

De Kare Silver's ES Test     In the early days of the commercial web, many retailers were concerned that they could not operate both physically and electronically without one cannibalizing the other. In attempting to assess the extent of any cannibalization, Michael de Kare Silver [1998] devised a framework to help determine why a product might sell online. The ES Test consists of three elements, each of which must be addressed to determine the product's suitability for online sales.

* Product characteristics - what is the product's primal appeal to the senses? Does it need to be touched or tried before buying? Products that appeal to sight and sound senses make good candidates for ES whilst those that appeal to touch, taste and smell are less likely to suit ES.
* Familiarity and confidence - to what degree does the customer recognize and trust the product, and so will repurchase it.
* Consumer attributes - what are their underlying motivations and attitudes towards shopping?
De Kare Silver, M. [1998]. E-shock MacMillan Press.

De-listed     In a digital marketing environment this phrase is used to describe when websites are removed from a search engine's index. Normally this is because they have been banned - though it is not unheard of to be de-listed through a glitch in the search engine's technology. De-listing should also cleanse the search engines of broken links and ghost websites. See also re-inclusion request.

Demand marketing    The practice of responding to a customer's expressed online query - demand - for a specific product and/or service. This might be through searching using a specific term or clicking on an ad. It is the latter that is now more common with the concept being seen as part of programmatic advertising/marketing, with potential customers being profiled based on their online actions.

Denial-of-Service [DoS] attack     The use of specialized software to maliciously disable - close down - a website or online service. This is achieved by sending to its server a flood of erroneous data packets so over loading the system - the same effect as having millions of users try to access the website at the same time. A distributed DoS attack involves the attacker gaining unauthorized access to as many computers on the Internet as possible - normally using botnets - and using them to flood packets to the target site. Online traders should be aware of, and take steps to combat, such attacks on their website.

Depth of visit     An element of website analytics, this considers how far - deep - a visitor goes into a website, measured by the number of distinct pages they download during a visit to the site.

Desktop purchasing     A phrase used to describe an offline practice that has proliferated with the advent, and acceptance, of e-commerce. Desktop purchasing is the practice of individuals in an organization being given the authority to make purchases without the express authority of supervisors or the organization's procurement department. Such purchasing can be controlled by software applications that limit or control an individual's purchasing. Despite the title, purchases can be made in the field using remote devices, such practice being the cornerstone of many e-procurement systems. Although originally the purchases would be from internal marketplaces, the Internet - and in particular online marketplaces - have meant that external purchasing can also be conducted. See also buy-side e-marketplace.

Destination site     The website that is at the end of a link. Although the definition for destination site is the same as that for target page, the latter is normally used by website designers who are writing the site's programming language - when they include a hypertext link they need a target for that link. Destination site is more commonly the term when used considering the link from the user's point of view, the link takes them to a destination. Because it is the destination link from an online ad, another - rarely used - definition is to call a landing page a destination site.

Development server     A web server that is used to host and test websites whilst they are under development. The server would not be accessible by the general public and so the development can be kept private until the site is ready to go 'live'. Such a server is only likely to be used by a major e-commerce site. See also dedicated server.

Dial-up connection     Now largely being replaced by broadband connections where the user has a constant connection, dial-up connections are a once common method of connecting to the web. A user's modem dials up to an Internet service provider, through which an Internet connection is established - the union with the Internet only lasting as long as the dial-up connection is preserved.

Dictionary attack [1]     A method of breaking into password protected security systems using software that systematically tests all possible passwords. Beginning with words that have a higher possibility of being used - such as names and places - the software continues as if all the words in a dictionary were being tried in an attempt to discover the password.

Dictionary attack [2]     Not unlike the software used to perform a dictionary attack on passwords, this is software application applies the same logic to finding email addresses. The method is used for spamming where domain names are known but the actual email address is not. The software generates tens of thousands of email addresses based on common combinations of letters in the hope that a percentage will be actual e-mail addresses. For example, sending emails to alan, alan2, alan3 [and so on] will eventually find recipients.

Differentiated traffic     A description given to users who visit a site and become; [a] customers for the product offered, [b] supporters of the brand, or [c] users of any service provided by that site. Such visitors are often described as good traffic. See also visitors, intentional traffic and undifferentiated traffic.

Digital     see analogue.

Digital [as a prefix]     As with a number of other terms it has become common practice to prefix certain offline concepts or terms with digital in order to indicate its association with the Internet. Although this is usually restricted to issues that are directly associated with digital [as opposed to analogue] - digital products, for example - for others the digital connection is somewhat tenuous - for example, the digital economy. See also 'e' [as a prefix] , online [as a prefix] and cyber [as a prefix] .

Digital Asset     In the digital marketing environemnt, this is anything the organization may have online [i.e. in digital format] that comes with a right to us, e.g. images, text content files, videos.

Digital Asset Management (DAM)     The management of the organization's digital assets. Large organizations or those with a lot of digital assets will normally use DAM software.

Digital Asset Optimization [DAO]     A term is a natural evolution of search engine optimization that is meant to emphasize the point that whereas SEO [originally] concentrated on the textual content of web pages, contemporary searchers are also looking for videos, music, podcasts, and other digital media. For such files to be found the website developer must optimize them for the search engines. The term is something of a misnomer as the optimized item may not actually be assets in the legal term - see Digital Asset

Digital brand    see online branding.

Digital certificate     Also known as digital ID, this is a method of verifying that an individual on the Internet is who they claim to be. See also public key infrastructure.

Digital divide     The term used to describe the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the digital world. In essence, it means the gap between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not. In societal terms it means that the quest for knowledge, information and lower prices is easier for those who have access to the web. Though finance is a prime determinant in the digital divide, it is not absolute. For example, there are those who cannot gain fast access to the web - they live in areas with no broadband connections, for example - and there are those who have the means to access the web, but have not yet recognized its potential benefits.

Digital Economy     Also known as the New Economy, this term refers to the influence of information technology [IT] companies on the economy. The concept of the Digital Economy grew during the 1990s, its implication being that information technology [the Internet in particular] was changing the world so dramatically that traditional benchmarks of value were no longer applicable.

Digital footprint     see clickstream.

Digital ID     see digital certificate.

Digital products     Also known as electronic products, these are those products that can be configured into a digital format so allowing them to be delivered via the Internet. Digital products can come in one of three categories:

* Products that are digital by composition - for example software, computer games, music
* Products that can be presented in digital format - for example airline flight tickets and newspapers
* The product is information that can be presented in electronic format - for example, a surveyor's report emailed as a Word document rather than printed and sent in traditional snail mail post.

Digital revolution     A cover-all term used to describe the impact of digital technology on all aspects of business and society.

Digital Rights Management [DRM]     The phrase used to describe technologies that can be incorporated into electronic devices to control the use of digital media, DRM is usually considered to be copy protection for music, films and video games. However, it has wider applications such as allowing computer software to be rented or providing assurance that only authorized programs are used on a particular computer. DRM permits the creation of new business models where users can buy the right to read a book just once, or pay a very small fee every time a user plays a piece of music. As a result of this, publishers can exercise greater flexibility in the services they offer and so allows them to increase consumer choice.

Digital signature     A code used to verify contents of messages - including emails - and the identity of the signatory.

Digital subscriber line [DSL]     A data communications technology that enables faster data transmission over standard copper telephone lines than a conventional modem. ADSL [asymmetric digital subscriber line] enables even faster data transmission. Such systems are commonly used in areas where old telephone lines are used. Newer housing and business developments normally have broadband-carrying fibre optic lines as standard.

Digital Transformation     An extension of the digital revolution the term digital transformation has been around since the birth of the commercial Internet, having previously been used to describe how organizations, industries or markets adapted to the digital world. Obvious examples are e-commerce [the sale of goods online] and the impact of digital technologies on the printing and music industries.

More recently, however, digital transformation has become the term that indicates how the entire organization has adopted, adapted to - or ignored - the changes brought to society by the digital revolution. The MIT Sloan Management Review [2013] definition of digital transformation suggests it encompasses the use of new digital technologies [social media, mobile, analytics or embedded devices] to enable major business improvements [such as enhancing customer experience, streamlining operations or creating new business models].
Fitzgerald, M., Kruschwitz, M., Bonnet, D. and Welch, M. [2013] Embracing Digital Technology. MIT Sloan Management Review.

Digital wallet     The term used to describe a consumer account set up to allow online transactions through a particular credit card processing system. Before the consumer can make a purchase, they must first set up an account with the credit card processor, who provides an ID and password. These are then used when making a purchase at any website that supports that transaction system. PayPal [] is an example of a digital wallet scheme. For the e-commerce site, accepting payments through PayPal [for example] is seen as an advantage in breaking down the barrier of concerns over secure transactions.

Direct keywords     Rather than more generic terms or phrases, these are keywords that are directly related to the organization's products or services. Usually descriptive, they can include trademarks or brand names specific to the product or service being promoted or the tag line being used to promote the product in other media. For example, if a TV ad for a new product features a character who says the phrase 'it is the bestest ever chocolate', then 'bestest ever chocolate' might be a search query phrase entered by the potential customer because they missed the actual name of the chocolate. This being the case the online marketer should have purchased the phrase for paid placement on search engines. Note however, being a tag line to a promotional campaign should mean that the phrase is already part of the website's organic listing optimization efforts.

Direct marketing     A form of marketing where customers are contacted personally - directly - rather than through an impersonal medium such as advertising. In a digital marketing environment, email marketing is a form of direct marketing with the most successful proponents of email marketing invariably applying lessons learned offline to their online efforts.

Direct navigation     A term used to describe the practice of typing a website address directly into a browser window, meaning that the user not only knows the website they wish to visit, but also has remembered the correct domain name [or URL] of that site. The practice can have a number of implications for online marketers - see domain name parking [2] , fat finger typo and intuitive domain names. Note that using a bookmark in a browser is not considered to be direct navigation.

Directed information seeker     Something of a misnomer, self-directed being a more accurate description. This refers to a web user who knows what they are looking for when they go online, and so strives to go straight to websites that will meet their needs. A directed information seeker is the opposite of a surfer. See also meanderthal, visitor and intentional traffic.

Directory     A direct descendant of the offline directory, the online directory has human involvement in its development - rather than relying on spiders to crawl the web as search engines do. In directories, websites are usually reviewed and placed in a particular category. Although it is now a search engine, Yahoo started as a directory. Most directories, however, are much smaller - normally being geographic-region, industry or subject specific. They are often developed from an offline entity, a local Chamber of Commerce or industry body, for example, listing its members as part of its online presence. Similarly, a Tourist Information Board might have a directory of accommodation listed by type and location. Such directories are often part of a portal.

Disaster recovery [1] technical perspective     Although the term is a little extreme - contingency planning is perhaps more appropriate - it refers to the organization having a pre-determined plan to be put in place in the event of some kind of technical disaster. A website's main server failing or a DoS attack, for example.

Disaster recovery [2] marketing perspective     Whilst the technical issues are being addressed, the organization should also have a public relations response prepared for any and all situations that they think might arise. Any response will differ depending on the size of the organization and how much it relies on the web for its trade and/or marketing. In the contemporary trading environment organizations must be prepared for not only offline problems - for example the failure of a product - but also troubles that originate online, comments on a cyberbashing site, or in any other form of consumer generated content for example. See also defensive keyword marketing.

Disclaimer     Literally, a repudiation or denial of responsibility or connection - and in law a renunciation of one's right or claim. In digital marketing terms, this is a legal statement - disclaimer - that should be included on all websites to cover the organization in the event of something going wrong during its normal trading operations. Like terms and conditions and a privacy policy, any disclaimer should be written by someone with legal training and/or qualifications.

Discovery based search     It can be argued that when we use search engines we perform two kinds of search, [a] recovery search - for sites we know exist, and have probably visited, and [b] discovery search - where we look for sites we hope exist, but do not know if they do. In a digital marketing environment organizations should develop their web presence in such a way that both of these groups find satisfaction when they arrive on the website. See also navigational query.

Discussion group    see newsgroup.

Disintermediation     An economics term first popularised in the early 1980s, disintermediation is the removal of intermediaries in a supply chin - in other words, cutting out the middleman. The ultimate disintermediation is to eliminate every link in the distribution chain, so allowing the manufacturer to sell directly to the end user. Although some touted this concept as being the greatest potential of the Internet, that prophecy has come to fruition in only isolated instances, Dell computers, for example. Although the cost of distribution is reduced significantly, problems of channel conflict prevent many manufacturers pursuing direct sales to customers. However, some manufactures have adopted multi channel retailing and a mix of ownership of those channels.

Distinct visitor     see unique visitor.

Distributed denial-of-service attack     see denial-of-service attack.

DMZ [Demilitarised Zone]     Based on the offline term that describes a buffer-zone between two warring factions, in a digital marketing environment the phrase has been adopted to describe a network area that lays between an organization's internal and external [Internet] networks. The DMZ will contain a firewall to prevent unauthorized entry.

DNS [Domain Name System]     A distributed client-server database system that unites domain names with their numerical IP addresses. The domain name system allows for the registration of domain names within a number of registries known as Top Level Domains [TLDs]. TLDs fall into two broad categories; [a] Generic Top Level Domains [gTLDs], for example those with the domain name suffix .com, and [b] Country code Top Level Domains [ccTLDs], such as the suffix .uk for the United Kingdom. Each country has its own naming authority that runs the domain name system for that country and so distributes domain names on that country's suffix. To register a name you must apply to that authority for permission to use that name. Effectively, those who register the name are the owners of that name and as such are the only ones who can use that name. In the USA the authority is ICANN [formerly the Internic]. The UK's ccTLD registry is owned and operated by Nominet UK, a not-for-profit, private sector organization. Other countries have similar arrangements, with ccTLDs often being run by a government department or a university. There are also organizations that act as intermediaries between customers and the naming agencies. It is with these registration agents - or domain name registrars - that the vast majority of users register their domain name. See also RDNS.

DNS blocklist     A list used by spam filters to block unwanted emails. The list is drawn from DNS records of domains that have been identified as being the source of spam emails. See also spam filter.

Domain     The term used to identify a group of computers that are on a network and operate under common rules. On the Internet, domains are defined by their IP address, with all devices sharing a common element of that IP address are considered to be in the same domain.

Domainers / domaining     A term for the practitioners and practice of domain name parking [2] .

Domain kiting     see domain tasting.

Domain modelling     A practice is which addresses the issue of email deliverability and which is also known as email rendering, domain modelling helps email marketers to have emails delivered and read - in their intended state and by the intended recipients - by tracking the different behaviour of the various interfaces used by Internet service providers [ISPs] and email service providers [ESPs].

Domain name     Commonly described as a website's address on the web, a domain name is more specifically the unique name that identifies an Internet site, each being unique because each domain name is allocated its own unique IP address in the domain name system [DNS]. Because the exact spelling of each domain name is specific to its IP address the spelling of each name must be exact. For example, in domain name terms, is a completely different entity to A name is made up of the domain name suffix - .com for example - and the actual name [note that in the US the suffix is referred to as the extension]. As the suffix is considered to be the primary domain, combining the name with the suffix creates a second level domain,, for example. When indicating a domain name's use as the URL of a website, it has become accepted protocol to use the prefix www -, for example - as the .com suffix now has two distinct words before it, technically, this is now a third level domain name. Any subsequent words placed in front of the primary name, but divided by a full stop, make the URL a fourth/fifth level domain name - sometimes referred to as sub domains. Though technically, you can have as many words prior to the domain as you wish, in practice three or four is really the limit -, for example. The word element of the original US [and many other] domain names can be made up of any combination of the 26 characters of the Latin alphabet, the digits 0 to 9 and the dash [ - ]. More recently however, names have been made available using other languages [than English] and characters [other than Latin]. There can be no spaces in a domain name. Only the registered owner of the name on the primary suffix can add second and any subsequent level names. Whilst it is possible to set up the domain name's host so that the name is case sensitive when used in a browser, in practice this never happens - effectively meaning that domain names are not case sensitive.

Domain name parking [1]     A service offered, normally by domain name registrars, to individuals or organizations who register domain names but do not wish to use them for a website or email address. The unused names being parked on a server, sometimes with a parked page that says something like 'this domain name has been registered but is not in use at this time'. Many organizations practice registration and parking to prevent names falling into the hands of cyber squatters. As the name will have been allocated an IP address it can be made live at short notice, and can be pointed at a website [see domain name pointing]. Although a parked page may well include [with its 'has been registered ' message] ads for the services offered by the domain name registrars, some hosts also sell advertising on the parked domains - perhaps to subsidise low domain name registration fees. It is this practice of using the parked site to host ads that has seen the term used in another context - see domain name parking [2] .

Domain name parking [2]     An example of how the meaning of some digital marketing terms have evolved - even changed - over time, domain name parking is now commonly referred to as a business model that is an extension of the practice described in domain name parking [1] . Also known as shell, placeholder sites, web billboards or more recently, domaining [with practitioners being domainers] this is where domains are registered and a web page developed that contains nothing more than a list of ads which link to websites that have some association with the domain name on which the site is hosted - a practice similar to spam websites. Parked domain owners generate income through pay per click agreements with the likes of Google and Yahoo or by becoming an affiliate of online vendors. Visitors find their way to the parked sites by either:

* Typing the domain name directly into their browser - a practice dubbed direct navigation. This is popular in the US where .com is overwhelmingly the most common suffix. For example, to find information on 'shows', type in
* Miss-typing a popular domain name their browser.
* Finding the sites listed in a search engine results page [SERP], where it is not obvious that they are not sites that contain information. Parked names can often appear high in search engine rankings because their content appeals to the search engine algorithms. For example, the parked domain website contains lots of content about games that use Flash technology, and so any search on the keywords 'flash games' will return high on the SERP.

Because of the reasons described above, domain names used in this practice normally fall into one of two categories. They are [a] based on generic words -, for example - or [b] they are misspellings of popular domain names - see typosquatting. A negative context to this practice is that many users are frustrated by pages that appear at the top of SERPs for a specific term only to find the link goes to an ad site and not a site that has more specific content on the sought after subject. The practice has gained an element of legitimacy through schemes such as DomainSense, a Google application that allows advertisers to puts ads on parked domains. Although not always associated directly with the hosting domain name, because these sites have no content other than ads they are sometimes referred to as MFA - made for advertisements. Because the ads are normally provided by Google's AdSense system, the same acronym is used for made for AdSense - or the sites referred to simply as adword sites. It is worth noting that although some refer to parking as cybersquatting this is not the case as a cybersquatter registers the squatted name with the purpose of selling it on to the rightful owner. The confusion comes about because a cybersquatter might park the name in an interim period prior to them selling the name - or losing it as the result of legal action. Google's addition of parked domains to their AdSense 'exclude' list for advertisers [in March 2008] significantly reduced the quality and quantity of ads on parked domains. Google's Panda update in February 2011 was aimed specifically at this type of practice, and - in the main - it has been successful in removing such sites from Search engine results page. See also sub domaining and word farms.

Domain name pointing     This is when a domain name is registered, but its new owner does not want to host a website on it, so they have it point at another site. This means that if a user types the domain name into a browser that request will be re-routed to the other, specified, website. It's most common use is where duplicate names have been registered - for example the company name with both .com and suffixes - yet only one website maintained. It is normal for the delivered website to appear under its own hosting domain name. It is possible, however, for the website to appear under the domain that is being pointed, this is known as masked web direction. Note however, when a domain name has been withdrawn, or made redundant [for example if a company moves its website from one domain name to another] this is known as domain name redirection - though for the user, pointing and re-direction result in the same thing.

Domain name redirection     see domain name pointing.

Domain name registration     In order to have use of a domain name, the prospective owner must register it with the relevant naming authority through a domain name registrar. Although legally recognized as the owner of a domain name, the person or entity that registers the name actually does little more than buy the permission to use it. This is because ownership of a name is useless without its presence on the DNS, something over which the owner does not have complete control. See also domain name.

Domain name registrar     A business that makes a profit by handling the registration of domain names for its customers, effectively acting as a third party between the end user and the naming authority. Note that for an individual or organization to register names directly with the naming authority it must operate two name servers on which the domain names are hosted. Normally, only domain name registrars will have this facility - with most also offering hosting services or acting as application service providers. See also DNS, domain name and domain name registration.

Domain name suffix [in the USA Domain Name Extension]     All domain names have a suffix denoting the Top Level Domain [TLD] on which it has been registered. The most common is .com, the suffix for the TLD of the USA. Other countries use county code specific suffixes [ccTLDs] with additional codes to indicate the use of the name. In the UK, for example, denotes a commercial entity, an academic institution and a government sponsored website. There are over 250 countries with a country-specific domain, for example; .de for Germany, .jp for Japan .fr for France and .gr for Greece. One of the latest suffixes is not country specific, but union-specific - that being .eu for the European Union. Like .com [and other US suffixes such as .info and .net] registration of .eu names is open to individuals and entities wherever they are in the world - though this is not the case for every ccTLD, with some limiting domain name registration to businesses or organizations from that country. See also DNS.

Domain name system     see DNS.

DomainSense     See domain name parking [2] .

Do not use words     A phrase that comes from spam filters. One way in which the filters work is that they reject emails with certain words in their subject line. Therefore email marketers are aware that there are certain words that they do not use in subject lines. Do not use words include such words as free and cash - the sort of thing that spammers would use to encourage or fool recipients into opening the email.

Doorway page     Also known as gateway, bridge, or jump page, this is a web page created purely to feature highly in a search engine's ranking. A doorway page offers little, if anything, of value to users. Normally consisting of no more than a link to the organization's main or promotional site, the user may even be redirected automatically. Although the concept is sometimes used by legitimate marketers, it is more often the practice of less scrupulous operators - sometimes using cloaking to forward users to sites with no association to the search terms used on the doorway page. Because of this, search engines take a dim view of the practice. See also hosted doorway pages.

DoS attack     see denial of service attack.

Dotcom     Based on the US domain name suffix of .com, dotcom became the description given to pure online businesses financed by massive injections of investors' cash in the late 1990s - the so-called dotcom boom. As stock markets discovered that most dotcoms offered little in the way of profits, this turned into the dotcom bust, and the companies becoming dot bombs. The term dotcom lives on in the popular press to describe almost any company associated with the Internet.

Dot Pitch     The space between pixels. The smaller the number, the sharper the image will appear on a computer screen. For example .28mm gives a sharper image than .32mm.

Double-dippers    People who 'dip' into two media at the same time e.g. surf the web while watching television.

Double Serving     A term used in search engine advertising meaning that a person or organization is displaying more than one ad at a time for the same keyword[s].

Download     The transfer a file or files from a remote computer to the user's computer. In a digital marketing environment the term is used to describe the transfer of files from a web server to a user's computer - in other words, the files that make up a web page being downloaded to the user's browser.

Download time     Although the term refers to how long any document takes to download on a computer, in digital marketing terms the only download time that really counts is how long it takes for a web page to download onto the user's browser. People using the web are seldom patient, if a web page does not appear straight away they move on. The maxim that online your competitor is only a click of the mouse away is as valid now as when it was first penned. In the early days of the web it was said that users would wait around 8 seconds for a page to download, after which they moved on. In the day of the broadband connection, that is much less. There are a number of factors that can affect a web page's download time:

* Some are beyond the control of both user and website designer, bandwidth and how busy the network is, for example.
* Those beyond the control of the site's developer include the configuration and specification of the user's PC.
* And beyond the control of the user is the design of the site.

It is the latter that is of most interest to the e-marketer, for it is the one over which they have most control. As it is the home page at which visitors normally arrive on a site, that page's download time is paramount. In an attempt to guarantee fast download, the best practitioners of website designers aim to keep their home page size below 40,000 bytes.

As broadband speed increased, designers paid less heed to download time as being an important factor in website design. However, with more and more access to the web now being on handheld devices via WIFI or 3G the issue of the 'byte-size' of a web page is back in the forefront of design considerations. See also view page info.

Down-time     In a digital marketing context, down-time refers to any period that a website is not available to users - the site being down. Down-time can be caused by a number of things, either planned [server repair or maintenance, for example], or unplanned [some kind of technical fault]. Whilst the former can be prepared for and effects minimised, the latter should also be prepared for so that any potential damage can be restricted. See also disaster recovery.

Drop catching     A close associate of cybersquatting - the same person or entity will probably practice both - drop catching is a way of making a profit by taking advantage of the domain name registration system. Key to this practice is that domain name registrations must be renewed on an annual basis [though it is possible to pay annual fees for years in advance]. If the owner of a domain name does not renew its registration the registration lapses and, eventually, the name is made available on the free market. As the original owner may be using the name for a business its loss can be significant. The drop catcher uses software to check on names that come back onto the market [an estimated 20,000 a day] and registers any that they feel might be valuable. Having taken ownership of the name the drop catcher can:

* Offer to sell it to the previous owner
* Auction it, perhaps to competitors of the original owner, or
* As the domain might have a high ranking on search engine rankings, use it to host a website loaded with ads, so earning significant income.

Note that the practice of drop catching breaks no laws, though the owner of a domain name that might be copyrighted or trademarked can seek to recover the name by appealing to an arbitration panel under ICANN's dispute-resolution policy. The downside to this is that the process takes time, and any site previously hosted on the name will be unavailable for the period of the dispute.

Drop down menu     Also known as a pull-down menu, this is a method of displaying extensive navigation menus without taking up too much space on a web page. The idea is that a single word or phrase can be clicked on so that it opens up - drops down - into more links on the same subject. When used on big sites - normally e-commerce - to include all departments/products, such lists can be massive ... and are referred to as a 'maga menu'.

Drop shipping     A concept that has existed offline for many years but has risen to prominence in the digital marketing era. Some online sales companies carry no inventory of the goods they are selling online. Instead they take the order and pass it on to distributors or manufacturers who then pack and dispatch [ship] the goods directly to the customer - this is drop shipping. Drop shipping performs a similar function to fulfilment houses and is an essential element in the concept of the virtual business.

DSL     see digital subscriber line.

Dynamic content     Also known as dynamic HTML, this is web page content that changes each time it is viewed. For example, the parameters of the page could be set up to react to such things as the time of day, or the geographic location of the visitor - with content pertinent to each being delivered.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol [DHCP]     see Dynamic IP Address.

Dynamic IP Address     Although technically an aspect of Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol [DHCP], in more general digital marketing terms this is an IP address which a service might allocate randomly as and when it is required. For example, an Internet service provider might host thousands of websites, but rarely will all of them be requested at the same time - so each site is [dynamically] allocated an IP number from a group only when it is requested by a user.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion [DKI]     A facility made available on search and network ad systems [e.g. Google's AdSense, Yahoo! search marketing and Microsoft adCenter] whereby the text in the presented ad includes the actual keywords used in the search inquiry. Although this can be achieved manually by writing specific content for every keyword they bid on, using DKI simplifies the administration of any online advertising. All other things being equal, the searcher is more likely to click on an ad that includes the search term than one that doesn't.

Dynamic pricing     The offline concept is that prices charged for a product may vary over time and across customers, usually based on supply and demand. Online, technology is employed to automatically change prices as and when demand changes. An example would be budget airlines where pre-programmed software will change the online prices of remaining seats depending on availability - for example, [a] if the majority of seats are sold, the price of available seats increases, or [b] if seat sales are poor, the price will be dropped to increase demand.

Dynamic rotation     see ad rotation.

Dynamic URL     A URL that results from the search of a database-driven website generated from specific queries to the site's database. Any pages that reside on such a URL are deemed to be dynamic web pages.

Dynamic web pages/sites     Pages that are developed from database content, the page only being produced in response to a user's request - selecting a particular product from an on-site search, for example. Dynamic pages are also known as being developed on the fly and are identifiable by their long and nonsensical URLs. Although they serve a valuable purpose in web development their main drawback is that search engines have difficulty in indexing such pages, causing product pages held in databases to be excluded from a search engine's index.

On the fly     Although the term is used widely in the business world where it means that something is developed at the same time as it is practiced [a presentation delivered with no preparation, for example], in a digital marketing environment it normally refers to web pages that are developed only when they are requested by a user - see dynamic web pages.

E [as a prefix]     In many of the following concepts and terms 'e' is a prefix used as shorthand for 'electronic' - which normally denotes the word, and its meaning or application has been adapted for use in an online environment. In all of the terms listed below, the 'e' could be replaced by the full word, 'electronic' but it is common practice to simply use the 'e' and a dash as a prefix - as in e-commerce. Note that when the prefix 'e' is used it is normally followed by a dash, as in e-commerce. However, this is not absolute, as is exemplified by email being most commonly presented without a dash. See also cyber [as a prefix] and online [as a prefix] .

East ads     An advertising term used to describe the sponsored ads on a search engine results page that run to the right - the east - of the organic listings. Ads that above the organic listings are the north ads.

Easter egg     In a computing environment an Easter egg is a message hidden in an application by its developers. The message normally consists of credits for the development team, though it often is often light-hearted or humorous. To access the message users must know the secret sequence of keystrokes.

E-auction     see online auction.

E-Banking     The use of Internet technology in providing online banking services. Whilst this has caused a revolution in the way banks conduct business with retail customers, and so generated most publicity, the use of the Internet to transfer funds in a B2B environment is also a significant element of e-banking. See also electronic funds transfer.

E-book     The description, e-book, covers two primary models of electronic book. Those that are distributed in digital format over the Internet for [1] printing out before being read, and [2] those to be read in digital format.

* To be printed. The advantage to this format for authors is twofold; [a] a publisher need not be found, and [b] there are no printing costs to incur. The book is normally presented as a PDF file and when printed resembles a 'published' book. The concept is particularly useful for minority interest books that would never sell enough copies to warrant traditional publishing/printing. E-books can be used as a promotional vehicle for organizations or individuals. A number of online businesses offer print-on-demand facilities for books that would not warrant the expense of a print run.
* To be read in digital format. This concept had been coming for a number years, but was always defeated by the lack of suitable hard and software. The key problem is that humans find it difficult to read from a screen for long periods, and so prefer to read print on paper. However, from the beginning of 2006 the issue began to be addressed effectively [predominenty with the introduction of the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle] by replicating the look of the printed word on a paperback book-sized screen - such devices were dubbed e-readers. The arrival of the smartphone and tabletpresented further devices on which e-books can be read. Amazon's development and support of its Kindle device - with millions of books availble for download from its site - has lead some to question the future of the printed form of book.

Note that in the original [printed :-) ] version of Key Concepts in e-Commerce I said this:
If this technology works, and is accepted, the future might see users simply downloading any text they wish and reading it on a hand-held 'reader'. Readers sceptical of this concept are reminded that a not too dissimilar scenario revolutionised music distribution in the recent past.
Given the universal acceptance of reading books on a screen, some younger readers might be somewhat surprised that we went from paper-only to the current situation in around 5 years.

E-business     For many, the terms e-business and e-commerce are interchangeable, both having the same meaning. If there is a difference it is that e-business represents a broader definition than e-commerce - addressing the impact of Internet technology on all elements of business, with e-commerce concentrating on the practice of the online buying, selling or exchanging goods or services. That e-commerce is the most prevalent term is perhaps due to it being in common use for longer. Although no one has staked a claim to inventing the term - though the domain name was registered in April 1994 - Kalakota and Whinston certainly helped promote it in the public eye in their 1996 book, Frontiers of e-Commerce. IBM are credited with the first definition of e-business in 1997, saying that it is ' a secure, flexible and integrated approach to delivering differentiated business value by combining the systems and processes that run core business operations with the simplicity and reach made possible by internet technology.' If, as IBM purport, e-business is any aspect of any element of the business where Internet technology, is e-commerce the same. The Collins Concise Dictionary defines commerce as 'The activity embracing all forms of the purchase and sale of goods and services.' This would support the IBM-based argument that e-commerce is a subsidiary of e-business.

However, since the publication of this book in 2007, - when using 'e-commerce' in its title was an obvious choice, things have moved on - with [as I write this in January 2016] 'digital' now being the favoured term, i.e. digital business or more commonly digital era, digital world or digital environment.

E-commerce    see e-business.

E-commerce service providers [ESP]     The online manifestation of fulfilment houses.

E-contracts     Contracts formed, taken out or completed online. Note however, rules governing contract formation apply just as much in the digital environment as they do offline.

E-CRM [e-customer relationship management]     Those elements of CRM that are practiced using Internet technology. Arguably, it is Internet technology that prompted the rise in CRM applications in the latter part of the 1990s, and so intrinsic is the Internet to contemporary CRM that the term e-CRM is almost redundant. However, the term can be applied to how much [or little] any online platform contributes to an organization's CRM strategy. For example, prominent contact details and the facility for the website to be personalized by the user might all add to the organization's relationship management efforts.

Edge networks     Companies that provide the service of handling an Internet service provider's [ISP] email connection and filtering incoming traffic for spam, viruses, phishing and other malicious attacks. The term comes from the idea that the software sits on the edge of the ISP's network.

EDI [electronic data Interchange]     A forerunner to, and an older form of, electronic commerce. EDI allows the transfer of data between companies using proprietary networks. Although it is still used, it has been largely replaced by Internet technology. The high cost of the hardware and software required for EDI systems means that only large corporations could, and still can, afford them.

Effective frequency     A term given to the number of ad impressions that are required for a particular ad, or ad campaign, to become effective in meeting its objectives. Those objectives might include such things as a sales quota, brand or product awareness or visitors driven to a website.

E-fluencer     A term used to describe the online version of the offline influencer - those people whose opinion is sought and accepted by 'followers' who perceive that the e-fluencer has credibility in specific subject areas. Online, the e-fluencer is likely to be a prolific to social media outlets who has become an expert - or spokesperson - in a field through either research or empirical knowledge.

However, as social media has expended, influencers have become more and more influential in consumers' decision-making process and so the term e-fluencer has all but disappeared

EFT    see electronic funds transfer.

E-fulfilment     see fulfilment.

Ego bidding     A phenomenon of paid search, this is where an organization [or individual] pays more for a top listing than they will ever recover in income from that sponsored listing. So called because those guilty of the practice normal forgo any ROI in favour of seeing themselves at the top of the search engine listings.

Ego search     see vanity search.

E-Government     The provision of goods, services and information from a government entity using digital technology. There has been a commitment from the EU as well as individual governments in the EU to implement e-government. In the business environment this e-transformation has been relatively straightforward, with businesses being obliged to use the Internet as the medium by which government business is conducted - 'if you want to tender for this work you must do it electronically'. Governments have also used the Internet as a medium to disseminate information and services. Not only is information being made available online, but services that once required the citizen's physical presence in a specific place and a certain time now being available online [in the UK, car tax for example]. The use of digital as a medium for communication between a government and its citizens might raise issues with regard to the digital divide.

E-learning     The online delivery of education or training. The term is something of a misnomer in that it is invariably used to described the delivery of education, in which case it should be e-teaching - it is the student who does the learning, or e-learning.

Electronic Commerce [EC Directive] regulations 2002 [ECRs]     One of the key EU regulations that cover e-commerce practices, including requiring online traders to provide certain information about the operation of online transactions and to acknowledge receipt of orders without undue delay by electronic means. Also to make available to the customer appropriate and accessible technical means to allow them to identify and correct input errors before they place the order. ECRs are relevant to businesses that sell products online or by email, including both B2B and B2C trading. See also Consumer Protection [Distance Selling] Regulations 2000 [DSRs] .

Electronic Data Interchange     see EDI.

Electronic Funds Transfer [EFT]     The technology that facilitates the electronic transfer of funds from the bank account of one person or entity to that of another. It is one of the group of technologies without which e-commerce would not exist.

Electronic press room     The early days of public relations [PR] on the web saw organizations do little more than include a 'press releases' page on its website. This developed into a more comprehensive section with an archive of past releases for both press and researchers to access. Contemporary online PR has evolved still further, with best practice now including virtual press kits. As well as the press releases, the online kit includes such content as individual press contacts within the organization, downloadable company logos, full details of the company, biographies of senior staff, descriptions of products or services and a photo library of staff, products, head office, manufacturing centres, distribution centres and so on.

As a result of the digital revolution public relations has shifted to be conducted primarily online.

Electronic Product Code [EPC]     A successor to the ubiquitous bar code, the EPC is an electronically coded tag that identifies each individual product to which it has been assigned. This is a significant advance on bar codes which can identify only groups of products - for example, every copy of a book carries the same bar code, with EPC individual books are tagged with a different code. The system not only aids electronic point of sale [EPOS] but also inventory, storage and logistics of goods. Products with EPC allocation are identified using a RFID system.

Electronic Products     see digital products.

Electronic shopping [ES]     A term popular in the early days of e-commerce, meaning shopping conducted online. As online shopping has increased, so the term has lost favour.

Electronic Shopping Test     see De Kare Silver's ES Test.

E-logistics     In a digital context e-logistics refers to the delivery of ordered goods, also known as fulfilment. In B2C trading this will involve many - normally small - parcels being delivered to many customers. In a B2B environment the situation normally involves fewer deliveries to fewer buyers, but those deliveries will be much larger in size. In a wider context, the term can be applied to any element of a businesses logistical strategy that involves the use of digital technology.

Email / e-mail [electronic mail]     Messages, usually in plain text but may include images, sent from one person to another via computer. Email can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses at the same time. The use of email as a vehicle for sending messages is perhaps the greatest contribution of the Internet to business - providing as it does a comparatively cost free method of communication.

Email accreditation     In order to help legitimate emails pass through spam filters, Internet service providers use a number of methods to reject those emails they consider to be spam. One such method is to give senders reputation scores depending on how well that organization's email complies with legal and ethical practices. Things taken into consideration include the number of email bounces the organization has, the number of customer complaints about irrelevant emails from an IP addresses owned by the organization, and the number of honeypot emails sent from that organization. See also email delivery protocol standards.

Email address     An Internet user's electronic mailbox name and address. An email address is made up of two parts that are divided by an @ sign, effectively making the address someone or something at [@] a domain name. As with domain names there can be no spaces in an email address. The last part of the email address, the domain name, must follow the regulations for all domain names, that is a suffix and a second level name made up of any combination of the 26 characters of the Latin alphabet, the digits 0 to 9 and the dash [note, however, the www prefix is normally omitted]. Before the @ sign, mail servers can be set up to accept any characters, though it is most unusual for anything outside the Latin alphabet and digits 0 to 9 to be used. The use of the full stop has also become common practice in defining a person's first and family name [for example, Alan.Charlesworth]. It is also worth noting that like domain names, email addresses are not case sensitive.

Email address appending     The practice of merging a database of email addresses with an existing database. The email list is obtained from a third party company who will match a list of customers, users or prospects provided by the organization with email addresses on their database. Although it can mean that as those people listed have not given explicit permission to the marketer, emails may conceive any emails as spam, this can be addressed by sending a 'permission pass' email as an introduction to the email campaign. Once common, the exercise died off as it is became the norm for contemporary databases to be developed with email addresses included, - although more efficient database management has seen a comeback for the practice.

Email advertising     The use of emails as vehicles for carrying ads. The practice is most commonly carried out by organizations who provide email services that are free to the user - Google's gmail, for example - with costs of the service being recouped [or profits made] by selling space on the free emails.

Email aliasing     A close relative of the email redirect [though that practice refers to the forwarding of emails from multiple domain names], email aliasing is the where multiple email addresses are formed on the same domain name, but they are all redirected to one address - normally one employee. For example, a small business might set up,,, - but have all of them delivered to The practice would save the employee from having to check all four email accounts for messages sent to those addresses.

Email analysis tools     In this context the emails under analysis are those of competitors. Email analysis software allows the e-marketer to view individual emails being sent from organizations to customers [normally by covertly registering on an email list]. Early applications were limited to monitoring networks for email list management purposes. For example, if company A rents out an email list to company B, then company A will check on the emails being sent out by company B to ensure the list is not being used for spam purposes. However, the use is now more commonly being expanded to include analysis of the frequency, type, tone or offer of emails being sent. For example, if an organization knows that a competitor sends out weekly email special offers, they can adjust their marketing efforts to address this. As with other online applications this is not a new phenomenon. It is the technology-enabled equivalent of a retailer visiting a competitor's shop to check on prices or a marketer for a bank having an account with another bank in order to receive that organization's promotional mailings.

Email analytics     As with websites, email has a number of metrics that can be used to assess the success, or otherwise, of an email marketing campaign. Metrics for email analysis might include:

* The total number of emails sent - as a benchmark against which to gauge success
* The delivery rate.
* The total number of emails that were rejected and not delivered - there are a number of reasons for this, see email bounce.
* The open rate.
* The email response rate. Although these calculations can be used to determine a number of process-oriented metrics, such as revenue per email, ultimately the organization is interested in the return on any investment made in that campaign. It is also the case that for the vast majority of direct marketing emails the recipient will demonstrate interest by following a link to a website - normally, a landing page, this being the case any website analytics should be synthesized with those of the email campaign.

Email black hole     The term used to describe email that is sent, but never arrives in the intended receiver's in-box. That is, it disappears - as if into a black hole. Although the reasons for email vanishing are manifold, most are described in email bounce.

Email bounce     A bounced e-mail is one that does not reach the intended recipient's in-box and is returned - bounced - to the sender with an message saying that the e-mail was not successfully transmitted. The transmission of an email involves the sender's system looking first for the domain of the intended recipient, and then the mail server of that domain. If the domain is not identified - the element of the address after the @ sign is misspelled, for example - the email is immediately bounced. Then, if contact is made with the domain, the recipient's mail server checks the message to determine whether or not it will allow the message pass through the server. It is possible that the message will be rejected by the recipient's mail server simply because it is busy. It is more likely however, that the mail servers include spam filters, designed to prevent unwanted emails getting to the user's in-box. Both being rejected by a spam filter and a busy server will result in the email being bounced back to the sender. As the email was not accepted by the recipient's mail server, this is known as a hard bounce.

Being accepted by the mail server is not the end of the journey for the email - other obstacles exist. The mail server has to determine if the recipient actually exists within its system and if that recipient is allowed to accept e-mails. Potential reasons for rejection include:

* The recipient's address not existing on the mail server - for example, if I left my current employer, my email account with them would be closed.
* The sender has misspelled the recipient's address - in which case the system will recognize this as a non-existent address.
* The recipient exists but does not have enough disk space to accept the message - their email application is filled to storage capacity.
* The message is too large - some mail systems predetermine the maximum message size that they will accept. Note that this would include any attachment to the email.
* When an email is returned to the sender after it has been accepted by the recipient's mail server - as described above - this is called a soft bounce.

It should be noted that email delivery is not an exact science, with a lack of consistency in classification across Internet service providers [ISPs]. Also it is common that when an ISP is blocking or filtering emails, no bounce back is provided. This is problematic for the email marketer in that they then assume that the message has been delivered to its intended recipient, when in fact it has disappeared into the email black hole.

Email client     Also known as a mail user agent [MUA] this is a software application that runs on a PC which enables the user to send, receive and organize email. Email messages are passed from the client to a mail transfer agent.

Email deliverability     see domain modelling.

Email delivery protocol standards     Although a number of bodies are moving toward the development of such, there is no single set of standards that an email must meet in order for it not to be considered as spam. A universal set of email delivery protocol standards would be a massive boost to legitimate email marketers because it would help eradicate spam, and so make legitimate email marketing more acceptable to users. Most non-standardized protocols work on the principle of giving each email a credit score based on certain pre-determined criteria. Depending on the way the criteria are counted, the email must either exceed a certain score or not pass a threshold before it will be forwarded to its destination. Criteria considered include such things as authentication tagging, email accreditation and honeypot email address. See also SpamAssassin.

Email delivery rate     The total number of emails delivered to the intended recipients in an email marketing campaign - calculated by subtracting the number of email bounces from the total number sent. See also email deliverability reputation tool.

Email deliverability reputation tool     Something of a misnomer in that the reputation element is better described as score, this is a software tool used in email analytics that allows email marketers to assess how their email delivery rate compares with others in a market sector or industry. Essentially, it gives the email marketer a benchmark. For example, knowing that 50 per cent of emails were delivered during a specific campaign means little, with the only comparison being with previous, similar, campaigns. However, if the email marketers knows that their biggest competitor achieves a 75 per cent delivery rate, then the figures are put into context and they know they are under-performing in that market sector.

Email dictionary attack     see dictionary attack [2] .

Email discussion group     A group of people who communicate with each other by email, with the messages being managed by a software application [for example, a mailing list]. Such groups - who would normally share a common interest - were popular in the early days of the Internet, but have been largely replaced by online discussion groups and social media.

Email forwarding     The facility to forward an email to another person without re-typing it. For the e-marketer, it is an essential technology in encouraging viral marketing. The term is sometimes used as an alternative to email redirect.

Email guaranteed delivery     see sender certification.

Email harvester     A type of spider that visits websites and records any html-embedded email addresses found on those sites. Harvested emails addresses are used for spam mailings, see email list [2] . Email harvesters are one reason for using contact forms rather than listing email addresses.

Email hijacking     Although email addresses might be obtained in a number of 'dubious' ways, the term hijacking is normally applied the practice of using the email addresses found in the 'cc:' field of personal emails to promote a business.

Email list [1] permission based     An element of permission marketing, this is a database of email addresses of people who have confirmed that they are willing to receive emails from a specific source, often on a specific subject. They have made the decision to opt in to that email list by giving the sending organization permission to use their email address. It is sometimes known as a subscription list as people can be described as subscribing to the email list - though that term is more commonly used in reference to newsletters or the like, where people feel they have actually taken out a subscription in that they may well have competed an application form to do so. Lists developed within the organization are called house lists. List owners maintain, and monitor basic data such as:
* The list total - the number of people, currently on an email list, who have agreed to receive mailings.
* Email bounces - which subscribers are not receiving emails.
* New subscribers - the number of people who have opted-in to the list since the last mailing.
* Un-subscribers - the number of people who have requested they be removed from the list since the last mailing.

Although all of these points are important, it is the latter that may give cause for concern. Large numbers of people leaving the list could be a result of [a] poor targeting - the wrong segment being made the wrong offers, [b] significant changes to the email messages - for example style, content, or [c] list burn-out - people have tired of the content.

Permission based lists are developed and maintained in-house or by a trusted out-sourced partner - normally a specialist email marketing service provider - with the continuous appraisal and checking of email lists commonly dubbed as list hygiene. The lists are extremely valuable to the organization and so should be protected from outside interference or influence and never sold or passed on to any third party.

Email list [2] non-permission based     As the name suggests, these are lists of email addresses that have been developed without the knowledge of the addressees, and so do not carry the marketing value of those lists where people have opted to receive mailings. They are, effectively, spam lists. Such lists are sometimes developed in-house, but more often they are produced by email list brokers who specialize in the trade of selling-on lists to organizations that do not have their own in-house list. Whilst some of the list-developers are reputable, many are not. The less reputable will simply gather email addresses from any source they can, usually using some kind of email harvester. Reputable companies will take more care over their gathering of addresses, sometimes asking people to opt in to a number of lists and completing a questionnaire of personal details [an inducement may be offered for subscription]. Those reputable companies will then offer their customer organizations targeted lists, the email addresses of 10,000 dentists for example, or perhaps 20,000 people who have said they watch a certain TV programme on a regular basis. Organizations will buy the lists for specific campaigns and/or as the foundations for their own in-house lists.

Email list broker     An individual or entity that, as a business model, acts as a third party to compile or source email lists, either permission or non-permission based, and then sells them on to interested organizations.

Email marketing     Although often defined as 'direct marketing using the Internet as the medium of communication', that definition - though correct - is only part of how email can be used in a marketing context. Email offers potential for targeted and personalised communication and so is a suitable medium of communications for a number of purposes over and above the direct sales message. These include such communication as new product announcements, promotional discount offers, press/publicity releases, reminders for event purchases, newsletters, reminders to frequent purchasers and customer surveys. Email communications that are directly linked to a sale are dubbed transactional emails. These include such things as order confirmations and shipping status messages - which can be part of CRM initiatives and can [where appropriate] carry additional marketing messages. A similar concept is the triggered email [the term is also used for transactional emails] is the email that is sent in response to a user's action. This includes such basic things as a 'thank you' message if [for example] a coupon or white paper is downloaded or a 'have a safe journey' message when someone downloads a map. Note that the same email - if correctly composed - can address more than one of the issues listed above.

Email metrics     see email analytics.

Email open rate     An element of email analytics, the open rate is calculated by taking the total number of emails that were opened by the recipient divided by the total number of emails delivered [note; not sent]. The open rate is the first action required of the recipient, without which no other objective will be met, making it perhaps the most important element of email analytics. Whilst the subject of how to ensure recipients open their email is a specialized discipline, marketers will recognize that the action constitutes a first test for the successful implementation of the AIDA model. Note however, that a recipient has opened an email does not necessarily mean they have read it.

Email preview pane    see preview pane.

Email redirect     A term that has one technical meaning, and another that has become more commonly used outside that. Technically, an email redirect is an email sent from person A to person B and it is redirected it to person C. A redirected email is identified by the inclusion of 'by way of ' in the sender information. The more common redirect is processed by domain name hosts who will redirect emails sent to a registered domain name. This is particularly useful for owners of multiple domain names, who can have emails set up for each name, but by having them all redirected to a single account does not have to check a number of accounts for messages. This is sometimes also referred to as email forwarding, though that term can be confused with the forward facility on email systems. Email redirect is also a close relative of email aliasing, though that practice refers to multiple addresses on one domain name.

Email rendering     see domain modelling.

Email response rate     That part of email analytics that calculates how many of the total emails sent in a campaign generate a response from recipients. Response rates vary across industries, but low single figures are the norm.

Email server     Although its technical name is a mail transfer agent [MTA] - and it is also known as an [e]mail server or [e]mail exchange server - an email server is the computer program that transfers email messages from one computer to another. Emails are passed to the server from an email client.

Email service provider [ESP]     Although many users have email access through their Internet service provider [and so are both Internet and email service providers] others use email services from providers who do not offer Internet access as part of their product portfolio. The major Internet brands dominate the market, with AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo making up nearly 60 per cent of all B2C email addresses. It should be noted that many, if not most, users have more than one email address.

Email signature     see signature file.

Email snippet    see preview pane.

Email specification     Emails can be sent in one of two configurations - text only or in HTML, the latter making it possible to include images in the email. Text and HTML are email specifications. Although HTML is most commonly used, there is still some debate in email marketing circles as to the advantages and disadvantages of each. That images are more aesthetically pleasing and can be used to give emails the same appearance as websites is the prime argument in favour of HTML. That not all email clients download images in the same format - or not at all, is a significant problem with HTML. Text only emails, on the other hand, presents in the same way on all email systems, they are also small [in byte size] and so download quickly and easily. Good practice in email marketing says that emails should be tested for all service providers, the main players using visual rendering tools. See also render.

Email spoofing     The practice of making an email appear to have come from someone other than the actual sender - for example, you get an email that has my email address in the sender box, but I know nothing of the message. A tactic used in spamming, it is illegal in some parts of the world. It can be extremely harmful to businesses and brands whose name has been spoofed [as senders] because recipients of those emails assume the spam has come from that company. As the first significant example of this kind of spoofing used the email address of a site called [early in 1997], the practice is also known as being a Joe job.

Email subscription list     see email list.

Email trackability     A significant benefit of email as a medium for direct marketing is that each communication [email] can be tracked and its effectiveness assessed. The practice of assessing that effectiveness is addressed in email analytics.

Email white list     see white list.

E-marketing     see online marketing.

E-marketplace [also known as virtual marketplace]     Although the term was originally used as a generic description for any kind of marketplace that exists online, e-marketplaces were originally normally associated with B2B trading in specific markets. However, it is now common practice to refer to websites such as eBay, Amazon, and as e-marketplaces, albeit sometimes with the prefix 'B2C'. An e-marketplace brings together multiple purchasers and multiple sellers in a virtual environment facilitating such things as auctions, reverse auctions and online tendering. The e-marketplace is run - normally as a business model - by a third party [or parties] who facilitate trade between the various buyers and sellers, taking a percentage of transactions or a fixed fee for the service. The B2B e-marketplace will normally be industry-centric and can be horizontal [a wide range of products and services in many industries] or vertical [more specific products and services in limited industries]. Note that e-marketplaces should produce income for their publishers, it is common for portals offering similar services to be operated by industry or trade bodies on a no-profit basis. When considering the overall economic value of e-commerce, if transactions made or arranged through B2B e-marketplaces were identified in the equation they would dwarf all other online business [that is, B2C] simply because of the size of some of those transactions. See also butterfly model.

E-metric     The online version of a metric - used in website analytics.

Emoji     An evolution of the emotican and smiley face, emojis are small pictures that represent variety of phrases, term or messages. The most common are faces to express feelings [e.g. happiness, sorrow] although others exist for an almost unlimited range of meanings.

Emoticon     A series of keyboard characters grouped together so as to depict a small image that represents a human facial expression that conveys an emotion. For example :-) is a smile, :-( a frown. Emoticons are used extensively in emails and social media. See also Emoji.

Encore page     see resolution page

Encryption [and decryption]     Derivatives of the Greek word for secret or concealed - crypto, both encryption and decryption have come to be associated primarily with electronic technology. Encryption being the encoding of data to prevent unauthorized access, and decryption being the act of decoding that data. It is not unusual, however, for 'encoding' to be used to describe the process of both the encoding and decoding - the assumption being that anything encoded has to be decoded to be of any value. See also public key infrastructure.

Engagement     Although the term exists offline, normally referring a customer accepting - engaging with - a marketing message. Online, the term is used to describe how a web presence [e.g. a website or social media platform] takes the interest and attention of users, in other words how the site engages with the visitor. The theory is that if a web presence - or more specifically, its content - can develop engagement with the visitor then it will be more likely that the website will achieve its objectives.

Engagement rate     Metric to describe rate of interaction.

E-newsletter     Simplistically put, this is a newsletter delivered electronically. A newsletter is, however, a tried and trusted method of disseminating information that is significantly enhanced by Internet technology. As well as the obvious advantage [over offline] of cost of production and distribution, the e-newsletter can be more concise - and so appealing - and use hypertext links to take the user to extended content on websites. Potential subscribers should be aware, however. Some emailed newsletters carry little content and are thinly disguised vehicles for direct marketing.

Enterprise invoice presentation and payment [EIPP]     Used mainly in a B2B environment, this is a software application that facilitates the presentation and payment of invoices online.

Enterprise Resource Planning [ERP]     A business management model that uses an integrated software system to merge all facets of the business, including planning, manufacturing, sales, and marketing. It is included here as Internet technology was frequently cited as providing the communications medium through which ERP could be implemented.

Entry page     The page at which a visitor enters a website, which is not necessarily the homepage - a search engine results page, for example, might list a page deep in the website. The entry page would be identified in a log file analysis. Note also, the last page downloaded before the user leaves the site is the exit page. See also landing page.

E-procurement     The use of Internet technology to source and purchase products and services in a B2B environment, either directly or through an e-marketplace. Advocates of e-procurement argue that the Internet can transform procurement's role from administrative to strategic. By automating paper-intensive purchasing processes, procurement professionals are able to focus on value-added tasks, including the development of procurement strategy and improving supplier performance. See also buy-side e-marketplace, catalogue services, forward auctions, reverse auction and desktop purchasing.

ERDRP [the Eligibility Requirements Dispute Resolution Policy]     A body set up to oversee the arbitration system for resolving disputes on domain names. As the web has evolved and the number of domain names available has increased, so the task of resolving disputes over who is the rightful owner a particular domain name has increasingly been devolved down to smaller organizations that deal only with a specific ccTLDs. This is an example of such a domain name disputes body.

E-recruitment     The use of Internet technology in the recruitment of staff. Essentially this is the use of a website to promote job vacancies and display details and specifications of both the jobs and the organization. CVs could be forwarded by email or application forms be available to download or complete online. Processing of forms completed online might also be carried out electronically before any human involvement. Note that potential recruits could be driven to the e-recruitment pages by ads on other websites - this practice would, however, be as much an element of online advertising as it is e-recruitment.

ERP    see enterprise resource planning.

Error code     A series of code numbers each of which represents an HTML error when a website is requested but cannot be downloaded - of which 404 file not found is by far the most commonly recognizable to web surfers. Others that users may come across include:
* 202 Accepted - the request has been accepted for processing, but the processing has not been completed.
* 301 Moved Permanently - the requested resource has been assigned a new permanent URI
* 307 Temporary Redirect - the requested resource resides temporarily under a different URI
* 400 Bad Request - the request could not be understood by the server due to malformed syntax.
* 401 Unauthorized - the request requires user authentication.
* 403 Forbidden - the server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it.
* 408 Request Timeout - the client did not produce a request within the time that the server was prepared to wait.
* 410 Gone - the requested resource is no longer available at the server and no forwarding address is known.
* 503 Service Unavailable - the server is currently unable to handle the request due to a temporary overloading or maintenance of the server.

ES [electronic shopping] test     see De Kare Silver's ES Test.

Escrow service     A means of transferring confidential material through a third party. Sometimes used to transfer source code, but it most common use in a digital marketing environment is for the purchase and transfer of domain names - see domain name escrow service.

E-service     Although it might described [like many other 'e' terms] as the delivery of an offline service using Internet technology, Hewlett Packard [HP] took this a stage further by developing a concept based on the term. HP argue that e-service is actually a continuation of e-commerce, with e-commerce ending when a sale is completed and e-service providing after sales service.

E-shopping basket / cart     see shopping cart.

ESP    see e-commerce service providers.

E-Supply chain     A supply chain that uses Internet technology in its management and operation, so improving its operation. Administration of such a chain is deemed e-supply chain management.

E-tail     A rarely used term for electronic - or online - retail. It is practiced by e-tailers.

E-telephony     Also known as IP Telephony, this is the use of Internet technology to make voice calls or send video sequences. It can be a great cost saver for businesses when making global phone calls as - if broadband is used - there is no charge for individual calls.

E-ticketing     A ticket that is processed and delivered online, normally in response to an online order and payment. Although seen as little more than a convenient add-on to online purchasing in some market sectors [that is printing, handling and postage is not required] for other industries the e-ticket has revolutionized their business practices. A prominent example is the airline industry, where customers not only make their flight selection and purchase online [so reducing human resources], but then also facilitate their travel arrangements by:
* Using the ticket number to check-in for their flight online prior to arriving at the airport, and
* By either printing out the ticket or simply quoting its reference number by-pass the physical check-in desk and proceed directly to the security check and departure lounge.

EU Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications     Although this directive is wide ranging, its main impact on digital marketing is in the areas of commercial email, the collection of data online, Privacy Policies and Disclaimers. It lists requirements for each of these with some being mandatory and others being advised as 'best practice'. Points raised include:

* Email - a link to unsubscribe, clear evidence of who the email is from and a link to the organization's Privacy Policy are all mandatory. A link to the organization's Legal Notices and a statement of purpose and origin are best practice.
* Collection of data online - at the point of personal data collection, visitors should be provided with a clear and conspicuous notice as to the purposes for which the personal data are collected and they should be offered an opt-in / opt-out facility.

EURid     The .eu domain name registry. As their website [] says: 'EURid is the not-for-profit organization, established in Belgium, and has been selected by the European Commission to operate the new .eu top level domain. EURid was established in a partnership between DNS BE, IIT CNR and NIC SE, operators of the country-code top level domain registries for Belgium [.be], Italy [.it] and Sweden [.se]. EURid is in the process of setting up offices in those countries as well as in the Czech Republic to support 4 geographical regions. EURid headquarters are located in Brussels'.

E-voting     The use of Internet technology in a voting process including registration, voting and counting of votes polled. Allowing constituents to vote online is seen by many governments as a means of increasing votes cast [voter turnout], though misuse of the system is a concern. E-voting might also raise issues with regard to the digital divide.

Exchange portal     see portal.

Exit page     The last page downloaded before a user leaves the site as identified in a log file analysis. Note that the first page downloaded is the entry page.

Expandable banner ad     see banner ad.

Extension     see file extension and domain name.

External link     see link.

Extranet     An intranet that is partially accessible to authorized outsiders who can only access it with a valid username and password.

Eye candy website     Although the term eye candy has a number of interpretations offline, online it is used to describe websites that are aesthetically pleasing, but do not meet the objectives of the site's owner or publisher. Packed with whistles and bells, an eye candy site might, for example, have a flash front page but lack the content and persuasive architecture required to promote sales of the products on offer. In many ways they are the antitheses of the white van website which might not look good, but gets the job done.

Eye tracking     A research technique with a number of offline applications but in a digital marketing context most significantly, website usability and advertising. The idea is to track the pattern of a user's eye movements and so determine which elements of a website or advertisement they take most notice of. The practice has helped web designers to place the most important content, or PPC ads, in those parts of a web page that users look at most. Eye tracking studies show that when people are viewing web pages, their eyes start in the upper left corner and follow along the top navigation, until they hit the end of the browser, at which point they travel diagonally through the centre of the screen until they stabilize at the left navigation. The sight path then proceeds to go back and forth across the centre area, between left navigation and right column, then back and forth, back and forth, engaging within the central area, hence the term active window. [Eye tracking studies content from Joshua Hay. GrokDotCom Newsletter 6/12/05].

Eye tracking studies     see eye tracking.

E-Zines     see online magazines.

Facetted navigation     Also known as guided navigation, this is a kind of in-site search facility where users refine the search by being allowed to either:

[a] Exclude products in which they have no interest. For example, if the user takes a size nine shoe, they can exclude all other sizes, the search then presents them with only those styles of shoe that are available in size nine.

[b] The user selects a feature, and is then shown only products with that feature. For example the user selects to see red shirts, and so is then presented with all styles of shirt that are available in all variants of red.

Exclusion or inclusions can be more complex and only sites with a comprehensive data base of the products on offer can successfully offer facetted navigation. Note that this is another example of technology being adopted to replicate common offline sales practice. Good sales staff will always ask pertinent questions to determine the products that will best meet the needs of the potential customer. The answers to those questions either exclude or include products within the organization's inventory.

Fake copy listing     The term used to describe the unscrupulous practice of copying the textual content of a website which is high on search engine listings and reproducing that content on another site in the hope that it too will do well on search engine listings. As all website content is copyrighted, the practice is illegal - the content is, effectively, being stolen.

False logic     A copy writing term [attributed to Michael Masterson] that refers to copy that does not tell untruths but that manipulates the reader through skilful representation of facts. For example, a clothing vendor might say on a website or email that 'only one person in ten thousand has such a shirt'. The reader might perceive this as meaning that the shirt is exclusive. The truth being that not many of the shirts have been sold.

False positive     In a digital marketing environment this term is used to describe the result of a spam filter which incorrectly identifies a legitimate email as spam.

Fan page     A web page set up by an organization, product, brand or individual on a social media site [e.g. Facebook] where fans can leave messages. Whilst the concept is to elicit positive comments, organizations can use negative feedback constructively in improving their offering. As the organization controls the site its managers can delete abuse or slanderous comments.

FAQ    see frequently asked questions.

Fascinations     A term used in direct marketing, fascinations are elements of sales copy - often bullet points - that are very specific and tease the reader into continuing to read and, eventually, buying the product [or whatever the objective of the communication is]. Online, fascinations would be used on web pages [particularly the first page of the site] and email subject lines and introductions. Fascinations are an integral element of persuasion architecture.

Fat finger typo     The light hearted term used to describe typing errors where the typist hits the key next to the one which they meant to press - as if they had fat fingers. The typing error has a significant role to play in digital marketing in two ways:
* It can change a domain name typed into a browser. Instead of going to the intended, for example, the fat finger typist could be taken to - a very different site than what they were expecting.
* A searcher might miss-type a keyword in a search engine, and so be served not only with a results page which lists sites that do not meet their needs, but also displays irrelevant paid placement ads.

The e-marketer should therefore consider registering miss-spelt versions of their domain name [to prevent cybersquatters getting them] and it might also be worth buying miss-spelt keywords in paid placement ads to accommodate fat fingers searchers.

Feedback loop     A facility, now employed by most Internet service providers [ISPs] and email service providers [ESPs], which feeds back to the email sender if the recipient has reported an email as being unwanted by using the spam button. Whilst spam button reports are anonymous - a sender is simply told that they have been reported - with the feedback loop the complainant's email address is passed on to the sender so that it can be removed from the email list.

FFA [free for all] link pages     Web pages that are set up with the sole purpose of allowing users to submit a link to their site. Despite what they may say in their self-promotion, they are of no practical use in search engine optimization as the search engines recognize them for what they are.

Field     In a digital environment, a field is a space [for example on a website] that has been allocated to a particularly piece of information that is being gathered in a database. For example, a simple online form might have fields for surname, first name and email address. It is common for extensive forms to have fields that are required or optional - with submitted forms being rejected if a required field has not been completed. Good practice in developing online forms has the developers set the fields to accept only specific data. For example, in a field designated for an email address any collection of characters without an @ sign would be rejected.

File extension     The two, three or four-letter extension on the end of a file name designating the file type. The extension is separated from the file name by a full stop. For example alan.gif would identify that file as a gif image, and alan.doc a Microsoft Word file.

File Transfer Protocol     see FTP.

Filter words    see stop words.

Filtering database     A database of domain names, organizations or individuals who have been identified as perpetrators of spam. The list is used by spam filters to block unsolicited emails from reaching their addressees. See also DNS blocklist.

Findability     In a digital [or in a wider context, marketing] environment findability refers to how easy - or hard - it is for a user to find whatever it is that satisfies their need the that prompted the search - be that a product, service or information. Although the term has been used to depict a website's listing on a search engine results pages [ie findable on the web], its more common use is in website design. In this context it is an element of usability, navigation and information architecture and refers to how findable information is on a particular website. More specifically, on a transactional e-commerce site, findability is about developing a website in such a way that users [customers] can easily find the product that will satisfy their need. This can be by way of design features such as a breadcrumb, or sales oriented characteristics such as 'related product' or 'more like this' guides.

Firewall [Fire Wall]     A system of hard and/or software that is designed to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network. In a digital marketing environment a firewall would be used to prevent unauthorized users from accessing private networks that are connected to the Internet. Although firewalls can prevent both web and email access, they are most commonly associated with blocking spam.

Fixed placement     A term used in search engine paid placement, fixed placement is a program where a specific ad listing position can be purchased for a keyword for a fixed fee.

Flame     A personal attack on other Internet users via email, USENET, or mailing lists - normally with multiple, automatically generated, messages. Flame wars occur when a series of flames are sent back and forth between two or more people. At their most extreme, flames can develop into denial of service attacks.

Flaming logo     see spinning logo.

Flash     A generic term that relates to web pages that have Flash [TM] type graphics - though not necessarily graphics generated by Macromedia's Flash Used in this sense the meaning is derogatory, as in the term 'flash Harry', meaning someone who is all front but actually has little substance. Some use the term splash page in the same context, although that description is a little more specific.

Flash [TM]     The trade marked name of a vector-based moving graphics format created by Macromedia for the publication of animations on the world wide web. In lay person's terms, it's what makes most websites active rather than static. See also Flash front page.

Flash front page     A website that uses Flash [in either form of the definitions above] on its front page. Often it will have has a 'Flash intro' - a series of moving graphics that go together to produce an introduction to the website. Such pages can normally be identified by a message that says 'skip intro', clicking on which bypasses the activity and takes the user to the navigation page. Flash intros are normally the domain of web designers who wish to show off their abilities with the format. In marketing terms they are rarely a good idea. Usability guru, Jacob Neilsen has declared flash technology as '99 per cent bad', and numerous surveys have revealed that Flash intros are high on users' lists of the most annoying aspects of the Internet. Note that flash front pages which do not use Flash [] technology are sometimes called splash pages, in practical terms, and certainly from the point of view of the end user, there is no discernable difference between flash and splash pages.

Flash intro     see flash front page.

Floating ads     The floating ad, also referred to as a voken [a virtual token], is a close relative of the pop up ad, but more sophisticated. This is an image that floats over the top of a web page's content rather than appearing in a small browser box. Most are static images, but some move around the page - an aeroplane flying around or a car driving across the page, for example. Unlike the standard pop-up which appears and stays put, the floating ad moves around the page, often following the user's cursor. Although aesthetically more pleasing that standard pop-ups, floating ads come with all the negative aspects of their pop-up cousins plus the added irritant that the 'close' button is often difficult to locate. Many are programmed to stay on the page for a specific length of time, so disappearing only when that period [for example ten seconds] has elapsed. As with standard pop-ups, however, they can be effective if used judiciously.

Flog [flogging]     A type of blog that is developed by marketers as a covert promotion for a product, brand or organization. Such is the nature of blogging, however, that it is difficult, if not impossible, to keep the true nature of such a blog from users - at which point it will be derided by the blogging community. This is not to say that marketers cannot develop successful blogs promoting a product or brand, but they should be overt in their intentions. See also commercial blog and boss blog.

Folksonomy     A combination of the words folks and taxonomy, the term folksonomy refers to the simplistic, rather than centralized, way in which information is categorized on the web. Users are encouraged to assign keywords - tags - to pieces of information or data. Part of search engine organic listing is based on what the search engines sees in various tags on a website, alt tags, for example. Although tagging has been around for longer, the features that would become known as folksonomy appeared on the website in late 2003. Web services that use tagging include those designed to allow users to publish and share photographs and most blog software, which permits authors to assign tags to each entry.

There are also more vague applications of the term tagging used in digital marketing vocabulary. For example, an e-marketer might refer to visitors to a specific website or ad being tagged so that their future actions might be tracked. Although in this example the term is used almost as slang, it is still based on the basic concept of a piece of data - the site visitor's identity - being recorded for future use.

Follower     In social media, someone who subscribes to an account to 'follow' the account holder.

Forward auction     Normally a B2B practice, this is where sellers put surplus or obsolete stock or equipment up for sale and invite bids on it. In a digital marketing context the auction is held online, so expanding the marketplace in which the goods can be seen. The auction is often part of the services offered by a B2B portal. This is common practice, particularly in specialized industries.

Frames     An HTML website design which allows two web pages to be viewed as one page divided into distinct areas - or frames. Usually one frame will remain static while the other changes. For example, one frame is used to list navigational aids whilst the site's content is featured in the second frame. The use of frames has diminished to the point that they are now rare. This is for two main reasons, [a] that newer design technologies replaced them, and [b] pages in frames are not read by search engine spiders.

Freeware     Software that is made available free of charge - usually online - for personal use. See also open source.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ]     A document that lists and answers the most common questions raised on a particular subject. Popular amongst the technical community, the concept was readily accepted online, with its ability to disseminate information to those who sought it easily and cheaply appealing to both users and organizations. Where each question can be answered in a sentence or short paragraph it is the norm to have both questions and answers presented as a list. More complex questions, however, are often answered by the user clicking on a link, taking them to a new page [or pop up window]. This method allows software to be used that tracks the most popular questions [that is, those clicked on most] and presents them in descending order of popularity.

Front end / office [operations]     see back office.

Front page    see home page [3] .

FrontPage     A registered trademark of the Microsoft Corporation for a program that creates web pages using a WYSIWYG format. It is included here to differentiate it from the generic use of the term front page when used in a digital marketing environment - see home page [3] .

FTP [File Transfer Protocol]     An Internet tool/software utility which allows users to transfer files between two computers that are connected to the Internet. Its most commonly recognized function is the uploading of files to the web. Website designers develop pages as files on their own computers, and then transfer those files to a web server by means of FTP transfer. Anonymous FTP allows connection to remote computers and the transfer of publicly available computer files or programs.

Fulfilment     When used in terms of Internet trading, fulfilment is normally seen as the after-order processing and delivery of goods. In the main fulfilment is an element of digital marketing that has not succumbed to having an 'e' prefix [that is e-fulfilment]. This is perhaps because when dealing with tangible products [for example a CD] the fulfilment has to have a physical element that is it cannot be purely electronic. See also fulfilment house and back office.

Fulfilment house     An organization that, as a business model, handles the fulfilment element of another company's trading activities. Benefiting from the economies of scale they can generate, the fulfilment house will store, process orders, pick, pack and distribute goods on behalf of the business that has sold those goods to the consumer. They might also handle directing orders to suppliers and keep customers up-dated on order progress as well as handling order cancellations and returns. Fulfilment houses offer services that are an extension of those provided by drop shippers, and are sometimes referred to as third-party logistics [3PL] suppliers. The service is particularly useful to virtual businesses that operate online stores but do not want to commit resources to stock holding and logistics.

Full scale landscape banner     see banner.

Full scale take over banner     see banner.

Functionality     In a digital marketing environment this term is sometimes used to describe how quick and easy a software application is to use. Whilst the term can be applied to a website, it is more usual to refer to the site's usability, though navigation also has a part to play in a site's functionality.

Fusion retailing     see multi channel retailing.

Fuzzy logic/search    see Boolean search.

Gateway     That part of a network that acts as an entrance to another network. For example, for accessing the Internet from home, the Internet service provider acts as the gateway between user and Internet.

Gateway page     see doorway page.

Geek     A term that has been around a long time, and historically has been taken to mean a number of things - from 'a boring and unattractive social misfit' [Collins English Dictionary] to 'a person who is fascinated, perhaps obsessively, by obscure or very specific areas of knowledge and imagination' []. In a digital marketing context however, geek has become the description of a person who is particularly interested in technology, especially computing. It has become common practice, therefore to refer to computer programming techies as geeks. Once considered a derogatory term, its meaning has softened to the point that people apply the description to themselves as a kind of badge of honour.

General Packet Radio Service     see GPRS.

Generic domain names     see intuitive domain names.

Geo-destination targeting     An online advertising model that combines IP-based targeting and keywords used in searches on search engines to deliver geographic and destination relative ads. For example, if a user in London is searching on the term 'hotels in Berlin', published ads might promote cheap air fares between the two cities.

Geographic portals     see portals.

Geolocation     The physical location of an internet user based on their IP address [which is transmitted with every web page request]. For example, if a member of staff or student uses a University PC to access the web then their IP address betrays their location - down to the post code. If the IP address is for a hotel lobby's free Internet service - you can tell where the user is actually sitting. Geolocation is used in IP-based targeting. See also IP recognition and geo-destination targeting.

Geotag     A directional coordinate attached to a social media posting - e.g. a photo - to identify the poster's location.

Geotargeting     see IP-based targeting. Ghost site     A website that remains live on the web, but is no longer updated or maintained. Most are on hosted-free servers [of Internet service providers, for example], those on their own domain name being withdrawn when the domain name's registration expires. The browser's view page info facility will give details of when the page was last updated.

Ghost tweeters     Named in reference to ghost writers who pen 'auto'-biographies of the rich and famous, ghost tweeters send out messages on Twitter [] in the guise of celebrities. Note, however, that the celebrity has given permission for the ghost tweeting and uses it as part of their online marketing strategy.

GIF [Graphic Interchange Format]     A common format for image files, GIF files are particularly suitable for images containing large areas of the same colour. GIF format files of simple images are usually smaller than the same file would be if stored in JPEG format. However, the GIF format does not store photographic images as well as JPEG. It is common for website designers and developers to refer to images simply as a GIF or JPEG [depending on its format] as in ' a GIF of a church will go in that space'.

Gigabyte     see byte.

Global village     A concept popularised by media culture guru Marshall McLuhan in his 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man some thirty years before the Internet was developed. The global village describes the way that communications technology has made the world a smaller place. That the Internet improved that communication in a way that McLuhan could only imagine has meant the phrase is still popular in describing the effects on society of the Internet.

Global sites     This is something of a misnomer as, theoretically, all websites are available globally - that is, they can be viewed anywhere in the world - state intervention notwithstanding, for example see Great Firewall of China. However, the term is commonly used to describe a website that is designed for global viewing, but makes no changes to facilitate local visitors. An example would be an international entity or brand that publishes only one website for all of its global customers. This is, however, uncommon as most global corporations tailor their online presence to suit local tastes and markets. See also localization, IP recognition and localized domains.

Good traffic     see differentiated traffic.

Gopher     A software tool pre-dating, and mainly superseded by, the world wide web. It is used in search applications, allowing information to be presented in a hierarchical menu system - such as a table of contents.

Google [verb] to google     To look for something or someone using a search engine. Perhaps the brand manager's greatest dream is that one day the function that their product serves will become known by that product's brand name - Hoover is the classic example - Google is its contemporary. The legal department at Google are not keen on the term as a verb, however, and came out and said so in public in August 2006. They argue that there are some serious trademark issues if the distinction is not made between using the word 'Google' to describe using Google to search the Internet and using the word google to generally describe searching the Internet. Those trademark issues are perhaps based on the effect on trademarks of those marks become a generic trade mark - that is that those marks can be commercially exploited by others.

GoogleBombing     So named because Google was an obvious target for the practice that is actually link bombing.

Google bowling     see negative SEO.

Google dance [or Google dance syndrome]     From time to time Google, like all search engines, changes the algorithms by which each website's ranking are determined. These changes are always unannounced and, like the algorithms themselves, secret. The changes only come to light when, suddenly, the results on key word searches change dramatically - leaving search engine optimizers doing a dance to address the changes and so restore their sites to the top of search engine results pages. Rather like hurricanes and storms, it has become the norm for each new dance to named e.g. Florida, Jagger, Panda and Penguin.

Google Network     is the 'parent' of Google's AdWords [search] and AdSense [display].

Google stalking     see cyber-check.

GoogleWhack     Originating in 2001, a Googlewhack is a query consisting of two words [with no quote marks] entered into Google's search page that returns a single, solitary result. Googlewhacking is the activity of seeking such a result. Anyone successful in discovering a googlewhack could add it to the 'Whack Stack' at - however, although it still exists, the site hasn't been updated since 2005. It is also the case that Google's algorithm has improved so much since then that it is impossible to to find a Googlewhack. Or is it :-) ?

GoTo    see paid search.

GPRS [General Packet Radio Service]     A data service used to send Internet information to mobile telephones. It is sometimes described as falling between second and third generations of mobile e-telephony. See also 1G / 2G / 2.5G / 3G / 4G / 5G .

Graphics     Visual presentations that can be functional or artistic, these are those elements that determine the physical appearance and aesthetics of a web page - as opposed to textual content. Someone who performs the function of graphic design is a graphic designer.

Graphical Search Inventory     A somewhat confusing title given to online adverts - banners, pop-ups, rich media and so on - which can be synchronized to search engine keywords. For example, this means that if a user searches on the term 'New York hotels' any ads on subsequent pages will be related to that subject. The term graphical search inventory has a rather convoluted composition. In the phrase, graphical refers to graphics - the ads. Search refers to the association with search engines, and offline it is common practice to refer to blocks of ads that have been allocated space on media as inventory.

Graphical user interface [GUI]     see usability.

Great Firewall of China     A term used originally by academics - and picked up by the press - to describe the technical infrastructure used by the Chinese authorities to censor the Internet. Although inside China the project is known as Golden Shield, to the rest of the world it is known by the play on the description of the centuries old Chinese fortification. As part of an Internet censorship law in the People's Republic of China, a censorship system is implemented by state-owned ISPs, businesses, and organizations. Although the block on content is not absolute, users in China are unable to access sites containing certain content - those of political opposition groups in Taiwan, for example. Controversially, the main search engines have contributed to the censorship by blocking searches on the banned keywords and phrases - such as 'democracy'.

Gripesite     see cyberbashing.

Grok     A term taken from Robert A. Heinlein's 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, in which Grok is part of the Martian language meaning 'to understand completely'. Originally adopted by hippies and then Star Trek fans, the term has been taken up by computer geeks - hence its presence in digital marketing terminology with the same definition as that in the book's Martian language, a grok being someone who understands something completely. In other words, they are an expert in that subject.

GUI [graphical user interface]     see usability.

Guided navigation    see facetted navigation.

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