'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.

Safelist     A list of email addresses the holders of that have agreed [opted-in] to receive email messages from a specific organization. So called because it is safe to send emails to those on such a list without upsetting the receivers or invoking any kind of anti-spam action. Those on a safelist are considered to be on an organization's email white list. See also CAN-SPAM Act.

Sales copy    see content [2] .

Sales page     see pre-selling page.

Sales funnel     The offline concept from which the online conversion funnel originates and which also has a close relationship with the purchase funnel - all of which owe a dept to the AIDA model. Just as sales is an element of the marketing discipline, so the sales funnel is also one element of the marketing funnel. The funnel model is used to represent that the organization starts with many prospects [represented by the wide end of the funnel] but few will become customers [the narrow end]. Rather than being a smooth flow, each potential customer passes through a number of stages as they progress down the funnel, and at each stage they can either leave the process or progress to the next. The funnel is used by marketers to identify problems within the sales process, for example at which stage prospects leave, and so address related issues. For a bricks and mortar business, the Internet could represent an element of the overall sales funnel. In a wider marketing context, a successful segmentation strategy would help to [a] reduce the stages in the funnel, and [b] increase the ratio of buyers to prospects - effectively putting only real prospects in the top of the funnel.

Sandbox     In computing terms a sandbox is a security device for running programs safely - somewhere a new program could be tested away from the public, for example. In digital marketing terms, however, the term is used in association with search engines, Google in particular. Search engine marketers speculate that Google puts all new sites into a 'sandbox' for a set period of time, so preventing them from ranking well until that period has passed. The theory is that the search engine filters the sites until such time as the algorithm deems the site to be what it purports to be. The speculation is that trusted links into such sites can help them escape those filters.

SAW [single action website]     A concept championed by direct marketing expert Bob Serling, where a website has only one objective - to sell a [single] product, for example. Serling argues that too many websites offer the visitor too much choice of what to do or what to buy - which results in confusion and ultimately, no purchase at all. This notion comes from Serling's direct marketing background, single action is also common in traditional sales training and practice.

Scrapers     A description used for software tools designed to create masses of textual content for spam websites by touring the web and stealing [scaping] content that is relevant to a given subject.

Screendump     see screenshots.

Screensaver     Once considered essential to protect live but inactive monitor screens, but now largely out-dated by technology used in modern screens, screensavers are software programs that prevent images becoming permanently 'burned' on to the screen. Identified in the early days of the web as an excellent promotional tool, and still used as such today, screensavers are an integral element to many viral marketing campaigns.

Screenshots     Also known as screendumps, these are images - pictures - of a web page as it is presented in a browser's window - that is, as the user sees it. They can be captured by specialized software or simply pressing the print screen button on the keyboard. Screenshots can be re-produced as an image on a website or in other visual media - a magazine, for example.

Screen size     see viewable area.

Script [scripting]    A term used to describe the computer language in which a program is written. For example, a website's scripting could be HTML.

Scrolling [to scroll]     The movement of page content up or down [vertical scrolling] or across [horizontal scrolling] a computer screen in order that all the content may be seen by the user. Typically, a website visitor will start at the top of the web page and scroll down the contents. Having a user scroll across a page to read content is considered bad web design practice.

Scrub rates     Term used to describe how many email addresses are removed from a database as a result of emails to those addresses bouncing [see email bounce]. Such action would be data cleansing. Higher scrub rates would be expected from opt-out addresses and double opt-in addresses should return virtually zero scrub rates [see Opt-in / opt-out].

Searchandizing     A combination of search and merchandizing, essentially this refers to the optimization of a website's content so that in-site searchers are directed to suitable products - often promotions or opportunities for up- or cross-selling

Search&Display [all one word]     An interactive banner ad that allows users to search within that banner and then access content without ever clicking through to another site. For example, the banner could promote a retail outlet, and the user searches the ad to locate the nearest store within the Search&Display banner.

Search box    The box into which keywords are typed in order to conduct an online search. It is most commonly a white box with the word 'search' next to it - that word acting as the button to be clicked in order for the search to be performed.

Search driven marketing     see search engine marketing.

Search informed marketing     see search engine marketing.

Search engine     A tool or program which allows users to search for relevant websites or information on the Internet. This is achieved by conducting a search on a keyword or phrase. A search engine is, essentially, made up of three elements: the spider, the index and the analysis. The spider gathers data on the web [not just websites but such things as PDF files, images and audio/video files as well] which is then categorised in the index. When a searcher types in a search word or phrase, the index is analysed for content that matches that search. Those matches are then presented to the user on the search engine results page [SERP]. Note that this description is somewhat basic and perusal of the following search terms listed in this glossary will add to the reader's understanding of the subject. See also directory.

Search engine advertising     see paid placement.

Search engine algorithm     The rules by which a search engine ranks the websites listed in its index in relation to a particular query. How their algorithm works is a carefully guarded secret of each search engine. The reasoning behind this is twofold. Firstly, in a business context they want to keep the information from competitors, but more importantly, they need to keep the specific details from the general public. If details of the algorithm were freely available then it would be relatively easy to develop websites so that they top the search engine results pages [SERPs]. Whilst this is not a problem for the search engines with regard to genuine websites, it would be easy for less scrupulous to spam the search engines and so reduce the validity of search results. Each algorithm is technical and complex, but in simplistic terms high listing is a competition where each entrant [website] is judged on a number of criteria, the algorithm calculating each site's total score. The one with the most points comes top of the SERP. To extend this analogy still further, it is like the decathlon, where it is the best overall athlete that wins the event. It is no good being the best sprinter if you are poor at the other nine elements. Unlike the decathlon, however, each element in the algorithm is not created equal. Each criterion is graded, so a site might actually score highly in a number of criteria, but if they are low-scoring elements the overall score will be low. The situation is complicated still further in that the search engines do not tell which elements score what points and periodically they change all the rules - see Google dance.

Search engine blacklist     As the title suggests, this is where a website is blacklisted by a search engine and as a result none of its pages will appear in a search engine results page [SERP]. Whilst for some offline businesses this may not be a major problem, for pure online players this would be a disaster. Blacklisting would normally be the result of black hat search engine optimization practices, but it is also possible for a server or service provider to be blacklisted, so affecting all sites hosted on that service. See also re-inclusion request.

Search engine cloaking     The practice of getting a search engine to record content for a URL that is different to what a user will ultimately see - hence the alternative description, code swapping. Although some aspects of cloaking can be approved by search engines, this is rare and the vast majority of cloaking is disapproved of and guilty sites are blacklisted by the search engines when caught. As with search engine spamming the practice should be shunned by all legitimate businesses, with any short-term benefits being out-weighed by long term damage to the organization's brand as well as the problem of having any web pages on the domain name de-listed by search engines. See also IP delivery.

Search engine demographics     As the search industries moves towards maturity, more and more information is being made available to improve online marketing efforts. Search engine demographics refers to the demographics of those people who use search engines, and which ones they favour. For example, a March 2006 report from Hitwise [] found that; Yahoo! users tend to be younger, MSN users tend to be older and Google users tend to be more affluent. Such information could influence the e-marketer in deciding which search engine they should invest their pay per click ad budget.

Search engine listings     The generic term used to describe the information that appears on a search engine's results page [SERP] in response to a search - the list of links to websites. To be listed on the SERP is the objective of the online marketer. The search engine optimizer seeks to be listed by using organic listing and the search engine marketer by using paid placement.

Search engine marketing [SEM], or search marketing [SM]     The practice of marketing on the web using search engines. This can be achieved by improving the site's rank in organic listings, by purchasing paid listings, or by a combination of the two. It is not to be confused with search engine optimization, which is an element of SEM. Despite the term being relatively new, practitioners in the field are already mooting other phrases to supersede it. One of the leading proponents of SEM, Mike Grehan, argues that the practice is now so important that it should be considered as an element of the organization's marketing mix, hence his suggestion of marketing-led SEO, which he describes as 'the application of marketing communications to information retrieval [IR] on the web'. Other terms being put forward include 'search driven marketing' and 'search-informed marketing', both intending to reflect more that search has an integral role in marketing rather than being a stand-alone discipline. See also consumer-controlled advertising.

Search engine optimization [SEO]     Although the phrase is now common, it is something of a misnomer. Search engine optimization gives the impression that it is the search engines themselves that are being optimized, when in reality it is the website that undergoes optimization. A term that better fits the function it describes would be optimization for search engines. In essence, search engine algorithms set out to provide the searcher with web pages that best match the keyword or phrase on which the search is based. In a perfect world, the web pages which best match the keyword do so because their content is pertinent to the search, the match-up being more natural than contrived, hence the term organic listings that describes these natural match-ups, as opposed to listings that are part of paid placement. In real life, however, these organic results need help if they are to realize their full potential in search engine listings. It is this help that is search engine optimization. Numerous methods exist, though none are absolute as no-one really knows fully just how the individual search engine algorithms work - and they change frequently [see Google dance]. It is now generally recognised that SEO has two distinct elements: on-site optimization and off-site optimization. As the terms suggest, the former refers to work undertaken on each web page so that it is optimized for the search engine algorithms [keyword placement, for example]. Off-site optimization refers mainly to developing links into the site in a linking strategy. Needless to say, where competitive advantage means greater income, there are those who look to gain higher placing on the organic listings by using less-than-honest methods, effectively they try to fool the search engines into delivering content that doesn't actually match-up with the search term. So named because of early movie portrayals of the wild west where the good guys wore white hats and the villains black, those who seek to out-wit the search engines using nefarious means are referred to as 'black hat' operators [naturally those who follow the rules are 'white hats']. These villains of the search engine peace use methods such as search engine cloaking, website spam [see spam 2] and IP delivery. It is now generally recognized that search engine optimization refers only to organic listings, and that seeking to be at the top of any paid listings is part of search engine marketing.

Search engine position     see search engine rank.

Search engine rank [ranking]     Also known as search engine position or positioning, this is how highly a web page appears in the organic listings on a search engine results page [SERP]. If it is at the top of the list, for example, it is ranked number one, twenty first on the list has a rank of twenty one and so on. To say a website is listed on a search engine return is of little value to the publisher of that website unless it has a high rank on that list. Ideally a site should be ranked in the top ten, putting it on the first page of the results listings - searchers rarely going beyond the first page.

Search engine results - or returns - page [SERP]     The web page that appears as the result of a request on a search engine which shows the results of that search. On the major search engines the results will be in two columns. On the left will be the organic listings and on the right the adverts, which are part of paid placement campaigns. Depending on the demand for advertising on the search term, sponsored listings - ads - also might appear above the organic list.

Search engine spamming     An element of the manipulation of search engine results by nefarious means, such practice would include spam websites and link spamming, the objective being to artificially raise a website's search engine rank. See also black hat search engine optimization.

Search facility     Also known as an in-site search, this is a small-scale search engine that conducts a limited-range search. The most common application is on a website. Normally using a search box, users might search the site for a product [for example on a shopping site] or information [for example on a University site].

Search marketing     see search engine marketing.

Searching page     The page that is presented to a user whilst a search is being made. For the major search engine whose searches take only seconds - or even fractions of a second - this is not an issue, but for other sites a search can take much longer. On sites where a complex search has been initiated, the searching page will normally show a message saying that the search is being performed, often with some form of apology or reason for the delay. An example would be a holiday search website where it is not unreasonable for the user to wait for a search of numerous holiday companies to produce comprehensive results. The searching page can also be used to host targeted ads, perhaps for other products available on the host website, or [in the holiday search example, perhaps travel insurance] or the space could be sold to third party advertisers.

Search-Plus     Search engine advertising [see paid placement] that is synthesized with other forms of promotion. The notion is that when, for example, an ad runs on TV then users might go online to investigate further the product, offer or company. Whilst the advertiser might have featured a URL on the ad, it is more likely that the user will go to a search engine to find the relevant website - and so the appropriate key terms should be purchased for the period of time that the TV ads are aired. Search-plus includes paid placement being integrated a number of other marketing tactics, including:

* Search-plus television - perhaps the best-practised application of the concept, where research has proved that not only ads, but product placement can cause search spikes for relevant key phrases.

*Search-plus outdoor - both pedestrians and commuters often get only a fleeting glance at an outdoor ad, and so may search for details online when they reach their home or work.

* Search-plus word of mouth - in this instance, word of mouth refers to both the off- and online application of this traditional method of marketing, though the e-marketer will take more note of that appearing online [see also consumer generated content]. Search advertising can be used to reinforce the positive, and respond to the negative, word of mouth message.

* Search-plus public relations - whilst search plus word of mouth is often reactive, public relations [PR] efforts are normally proactive - and so paid placement can be arranged in advanced as part of a co-ordinated venture. The PR message can drive people to the search engines, and the results of those searches can be manipulated to the organization's benefit.

* Search-plus direct mail - perhaps he most obvious application of search plus, where direct mailings - both off- and online - promote a product or service. Although URLs can be included in the mailing, prospects are likely to seek 'independent' information on that being promoted - and use search engines to that end.

Note that organic listing can also be part of search-plus, however it is more of a long term strategy than paid placement, and is difficult to synchronize with other forms of marketing, particularly at short notice.

Search release         A press release whose structure is such that it is optimized for search engines. The concept is that press releases that are aimed purely at the press are becoming increasingly rare as public relations [PR] departments use press releases to reach the organization's stakeholders [such as current or future customers, investors, or trading partners] through the Internet. The intention is that the target audiences will discover the release via search engines or content aggregation services.

Search spikes     Where searches on specific keywords increase significantly over a short period of time - showing as spikes on a performance graph. For example, when the devastating hurricane hit New Orleans in 2005, there was a search spike on the word 'Katrina'. See also search plus.

Search term     see keyword.

Second life     see metaverse.

Secure browser     A web browser that uses a secure protocol, like SSL, to access a secure server. The secure browser enables visitors to websites to conduct secure transactions, like the transmission of credit card numbers. When a browser connection is secure, the URL of the web page will start with 'https' and in the bottom corner of the browser window a closed padlock is displayed.

Security Certificate     A piece of information [often stored as a text file] used by a SSL protocol to establish a secure connection. Security Certificates contain information covering who it belongs to, who it was issued by, a unique serial number or other unique identification, valid dates, and an encrypted 'fingerprint' that can be used to verify the contents of the certificate..

Segmentation     A key element of contemporary marketing strategy, segmentation is included here because many online applications are based on the concept. Segmentation is the process of dividing the market into groups [segments] according to their needs and wants. Each segment of customers [or potential customers] can then be the target of specific marketing efforts [so-called target marketing]. For example, academic texts are marketed at the segment that is students. As a segment, students might also be targeted by alcohol vendors or locally accommodation providers. However few segments are completely homogeneous in their needs, for example, not all students will drink alcohol and some may live with their parents. Note that it might be argued that online marketing [being a pull medium] is self segmenting because the potential customer seeks out only the websites that they think will satisfy their needs best, that is by choosing to visit a website they place themselves in the segment of the product or service being promoted on that site.

Self-hosting     Where a business hosts its own website. Although the cost of web servers has plummeted in recent years, this requires not only the appropriate hardware but also software, staff skills and telecommunications facilities. For this reason self-hosting is a rare practice with some, or all, of the operation normally being out-sourced to specialist organizations such as an application service provider.

SEM     see search engine marketing.

Semantic mapping     see latent semantic indexing.

Semantic search     see latent semantic indexing.

Semantic Web     Also known as 'the data web' or 'implied web', this is an ongoing project that is intended to create a universal medium for information exchange by giving meaning - semantics - to the content of documents on the web in such a way that it can be understood by machines rather than only by humans. Ultimately, the aim of the semantic project is for computers to be able to harness the enormous quantity of information and services on the web. For example, perhaps allowing a user's PC to automatically seek out local services for its owner - and book an appointment that suits their diary. See also web 2.0.

Sender Certification     The concept of having sender-certified email is where a trusted third party investigates the email practices of senders before certifying them as legitimate - or not. Certified emails are guaranteed progress past participating Internet service provider's [ISP] spam filters, those rejected having their emails bounced. The third party continues to monitor members of the scheme, investigating complaints where necessary. The latest sender certification technology uses encrypted tokens in each email that is unique to each email - participating ISPs are able to detect and decrypt the token. Mailers pay on a per-delivered-email basis, causing the concept to be dubbed paid-for email. Industry insiders predict that sender certification could, ultimately, be the key to eradicating spam.

SenderID     see SPF.

Send-to-a-Friend [STAF]     A form of viral marketing which was popular in the early days of the Internet , this is where email or web page readers are prompted to send the message/article to someone they know who they think will be interested in the content. In a B2C environment this is likely to be a joke, game, or similar. In B2B it is more probably some kind of industry related article, tip or advice.

SEO    see search engine optimization.

SEPOV [search engine's point of view]     term used to describe how the search engine spiders see a web page - that is, the source code in which it is written rather than the way it is seen in a browser by a user.

Sequential advertising     A model of online ad presentation where the advertiser controls the sequence in which ads are shown to the site visitor, no matter what pages, or sequence of pages, that a user visits on a site. The series of ads that will normally build a message and usually lead to an ad that contains a call to action. It is necessary to have ads on a single page change over a set period of time to pre-empt the possibility of the visitor only visiting a small number of pages.

SERP     see search engine results page.

Server     A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software or to the machine on which the software is running. The most common servers in digital marketing environments are those for email [email servers] and websites [web servers].

Server farm     Also known as server cluster, this is a number of networked servers sited in one location with the purpose of distributing the workload between the servers in the group. This farm could be owned and operated by an organization for its own websites or as an application service provider for other publishers.

Server log     It is the server log that is more commonly referred to as the log file.

Service provider     see Internet service provider.

Shareware     Copyrighted software that is available for personal use for a small fee - often downloadable from the Internet.

Shell websites     see domain name parking [2] . Shilling [to shill]     In an online environment, to shill is to place fake bids on online auctions in order to raise the price - a practice that is considered to be at best unethical, at worst, fraudulent. Note that the origin of the term comes from the practice of having a partner of a street vendor pretend no association to the seller and act as an enthusiastic customer, so encouraging others to make a purchase.

Shipping costs     Although in Europe it is more usual to refer to cost of delivery, online the US term shipping is more commonly used, and so it has become the accepted term in a digital marketing environment. Shipping costs are important to both parties in any online transaction. To the vendor the decision must be made on whether delivery is to be free to the customer, with any costs built into the selling price [common in B2B, not so in B2C] or whether the customer will be charged the carriage and any packing costs associated with the purchase. For the customer, the shipping costs are additional to the purchase price and so carry physiological as well as actual influence. Best practice e-commerce sites will include details of shipping costs. This could be as simple as a chart listing the product [or product category] and potential destinations or a more complex shipping calculator which requires departure and destination addresses as well as the package's weight and full dimensions.

However, it is becoming more common for customers to expect free shipping for goods - and so online sellers have responded to this expectation.

Shockwave     A plug-in, developed by the Macromedia company, that is used in presenting interactive animation on websites.

Shopbot     see shopping comparison site.

Shopping agent     see shopping comparison site.

Shopping basket     see shopping cart.

Shopping cart     Also known as a shopping basket in parts of Europe and sometimes under the generic title of checkout, online this is a software application that facilitates online order taking and processing. All three terms are now commonly recognized by users as being the means of confirming orders and paying for goods - so much so that cart or basket images are used on a retail website without additional text. It is also something of a quirk that all three terms are accepted in their online manifestation without an 'e' prefix. The application allows customers to accumulate items in a virtual basket, keeping a running total cost for the purchases. In best practice shipping costs are also included in the total cost, and items can be extracted as well as put in. Poor shopping cart design is often cited as the reason for intended purchases not being completed - see shopping cart abandonment.

Shopping cart abandonment     The term used when a visitor to an e-commerce site starts the online purchase procedure [that is, puts a product in the cart/basket], but does not complete the purchase - that is that they abandon the cart with goods still in it. Shopping cart abandonment is the ultimate failure in the conversion funnel. Online marketers can seek to recover the 'lost' customer through Re-marketing.

Shopping comparison site     Although known by a number of other terms - most notably shopping search engine, shopping comparison engine and price comparison site - these are sites that will search for specific products, or categories of products, that are available from online traders. Although they act as a search engine, to call them search engines can mislead users. Generic search engines [e.g. Google] will include all websites in their organic listings. The 'shopping' search engine, on the other hand, is limited to those sites that have not only agreed to be listed, but reward the search engines if users follow links from the listings to the store [normally in a pay per click business model]. The shopping search engines look not only at the sites of individual sellers, but also at those sites which conduct their own searches. Popular in the latter category are airline flights, holidays and car insurance, where the searcher need only enter purchase details once. For example, on a comparison site the user enters the date and destination of a flight and the search would check multiple airline sites using those details - so saving the user from entering the same details on a number of individual airline's sites.

For the online trader, using comparison sites as part of their online marketing mix can be a sound business model, and sites can be optimized so as to appeal to the comparison search engines. Although the comparison sites' 'commission' must be accounted for in any product pricing policy, the fees can be offset as marketing costs as the comparison site is, in effect, doing the online marketing for the vendor. Some comparison sites go further than simply listing results and offer review facilities for products listed. In these cases the site becomes an amalgam of a portal and a search engine.

Whilst a number of shopping comparison sites are popular with users for the service that they provide, there is a drawback to the concept. A number of faux-comparison sites have sprung up that seek to take advantage of pay per click agreements with little or no commitment to consumer satisfaction. Often hosted on intuitive domain names, such sites will concentrate their efforts on gaining high search engine rankings, often by using black hat search engine optimization methods. These pseudo comparison sites can be frustrating to search engine users [and the search engines], because they can fill search engine results pages in detriment to the organic listings of genuine retail websites. 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.

Shopping engine     see shopping comparison site.

Shopping portal     see portal.

Shopping search engine    see shopping comparison site.

Short codes     see common short codes.

Shoshkele    A type of floating ad that is similar to a pop up in that it opens in the user's browser, whereas a normal pop up is a solid form, the shoshkele features free moving forms, for example a bird flying across the screen.

Shoulder surfing     A term used to describe the practice of watching another person while they are online - looking over their shoulder. Although this can be quite innocent, a couple using the same PC to research a holiday for example, it can have a more ominous application, particularly if the web user is in a public place. Looking over a person's shoulder to obtain bank log in or credit card details, for example. Whilst the term suggests the 'watcher' is close to the computer user, the use of binoculars or cameras could allow the perpetrator to be some distance away.

Showrooming     It would seem that the practice of showrooming has two related, but different definitions:
1 Whilst in a physical store, using a mobile device to check the price of the goods you are looking at other suppliers, in particular. Online suppliers, or
2 Visiting a physical store to examine a product before ordering it online, normally from a different - cheaper - supplier.

Signature file     A pre-determined message automatically added to the end of an outgoing email. Although the original idea was for the signature file to be details of the sender - contact details for example - it has become common for it to be used to present a marketing message. At its most basic this might simply be the URL of the sender's organization's website, or the domain name of a particular promotion. Having a marketing message as a signature file is an element of viral marketing - indeed, it is such practice from which the term viral marketing originated. Although signature files were originally text only -and most still are - sometimes images are used, though they are subject to the vagaries of the receivers email system, see email specification. Note that the sending organization's physical address is required on the bottom of direct marketing emails in order to comply with the CAN-SPAM act.

Single access     A metric used in website analytics, this is when a visitor accesses only one page of a website- normally the homepage.

Siphoning     Whilst page jacking involves the copying of a website's content for that content's value [or because the developers of the copy-site are lazy], siphoning is a little more devious. It is the act of taking a website's entire content - including text, tags and trademarked names and phrases - and then putting it on the siphoner's own site in an attempt to steal visitors from the original site via search engine rankings - with the search engines confusing the copy site with that which has been copied.

Site map    A plan of the pages that make up a website presented as a hierarchical model. As a site map is, in effect, an aid to website navigation, only large sites need them, for smaller sites their own navigational features serve the same purpose. A site map can also help in search engine optimization in that it makes it easier for the spider to find all of the site's pages.

Site session    see daypart session.

Skunkworks     An American term [taken from a comic strip], which describes a small group of people who are given carte blanche in the way that they research and develop a project. This means that skunkworks normally operate independent of an organization's research and development operations and so outside the usual rules and management constraints. The term typically is used in regard to technology projects that are conducted in secret - hence its common military associations.

SMART [Salton's Magical Automatic Retriever of Text]     Developed by mathematician Gerard Salton in the late 1960s, this was the first digital search engine, incorporating many of the features - such as relevance algorithms - of web-based search engines.

Smartphone     a mobile phone – normally recognised as having a touch screen – which has many of the functions of a computer, plus Internet access and an operating system capable of playing apps.

Smishing     see phishing.

SMTP [Simple Mail Transfer Protocol]     The main protocol used to send email on the Internet. SMTP consists of a set of rules for how a program sending mail and a program receiving mail should interact.

Snail mail     A rather dismissive description of tradition postal systems from early email users.

Snippet     see preview pane.

Social computing     see networks [commercial and social] .

Social currency     Also known as cultural currency, this is the reward someone might gain in the eyes of their peers if they achieve something others perceive as being valuable or revered in the social circle in which they exist. Although the term is used in wider circles, it is commonly used in social media.

Social Media     A collective term for the various social community sites including such online applications as blogs, or specific platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. As with a number of other aspects of digital marketing [such as web 2.0, for example - which itself incorporates the notion of social media], what is construed by the term social media is yet to be determined to the satisfaction of everyone. However, consensus of opinion suggests that the following are all relevant to the concept.

* Sometimes referred to as 'media 2.0', social media is different to 'traditional' media [eg newspaper, radio, TV].

* It is not a broadcast medium - which follows a one-to-many communications model - rather it is a many-to-many medium.

* It is conversational - that is two-way, traditional broadcast media being one way.

* The way in which anyone can participate blurs the distinction between audience and sender [media].

* It has an element of connectedness. The Internet allows the interaction between other sources [links] and the combination of media in one place; eg, written word, video, audio.

* The barriers to entry are low - extremely so when compared to traditional media [eg setting up a blog, compared with education & training required to get a job as a newspaper journalist].

Not everything is positive, however. The content of traditional media is, to a certain degree, controlled - that is, edited or reviewed. This helps maintain not only a level of quality, but accuracy also. For example, the book you are reading [traditional media] has been reviewed, proof read and been through the publisher's editorial process before it reached the book shops. Conversely, a blog [social media] by the same author would go through none of this process and so simply represents the views of the author - rather than a document that carries validity gained by the editorial procedure through which it has passed.

A further criticism made by some is that many organizations see social media as an extension of public relations - and so dismiss much of its content as marketing material - and so not independent. That the term was reputedly first coined by Rohit Bhargava - who leads the interactive marketing team at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide - might go some way to explain this notion.

Social media marketing [SMM]     A term used to encompasses any online marketing strategy or tactic which uses social media as the medium for its communication. Although this can include advertising on social media sites, it is more commonly used in the context of either viral marketing or social media optimization. Further use of the social media is where the marketer engages in discourse with members of the general public [ie potential customers] in virtual communities or submits to elements of consumer generated media. Good practice dictates that this should be overt [ie their affiliation to a product, organization or brand is made known] and not covert [eg products are recommended as if by a user, not a seller]. However, the public's acceptance and - in many cases - devotion and reliance to social media has led to organizations using social media more widely - as a platform for providing after-sales service, for example.

For a list of different aspects of social media marketing see the contents page of my book An introduction to social media marketing.

Social Media Optimization [SMO]     A term used to describe the process of optimizing a specific online presence other than a web page - a podcast, video or blog, for example - so that it is more visible through searches within online communities and network community websites. As well as established methods of search engine optimisation, SMO include the use of use of tags, trackbacks, ratings and general participation in networked community groups. As the popularity of the presence is, essentially, governed by the users, social media search is driven not by algorithms [as with conventional search engines] but by popular vote. SMO is considered to be an element of Social Media Marketing.

Social network     see networks [commercial and social] .

Social proof     A concept originally outlined by Robert Cialdini [2000] in Influence: Science and Practice 4th Edition, the premise is that people are more likely to purchase something that others have commended. Online this can be practiced through such content as testimonials, best seller lists, product awards, reviews or case studies. Although Cialdini penned the term quite recently, direct marketers have long since learned the value of testimonials and such like. See also consumer generated media and customer evangelists.

Social shopping     see online social shopping.

Soft bounce     see email bounce.

Soft opt-in     see opt-in / opt-out.

Software     Intrinsically linked with hardware - and synonymously with program - software is the element of a computer system that makes the computer work. More generic than program, the term software is used to describe anything that can be stored electronically as well as any non-physical entity that has any part in a computer's operation. For example, if a computer is not working and all the physical - that is mechanical, electrical or technical - elements are functioning, then it would be describes as a software problem.

SOHO [Small Office/Home Office]     Normally a reference to business computer users as a segment of that market, though the term is also used to describe a micro business run from home. See also mom and pop operation.

Source code     The original code [or language] used to write computer programs. Source code is normally a collection of files presented in a format readable by humans that can be converted to a computer-executable form. Note that in a technical environment, source code and computer script, [or source script / script language] are distinct - to the non-technical user however, the terms can be taken to mean the same thing. Markup language is the code which defines the presentation of text.

Spam [1] emails     The online equivalent of offline junk mail that arrives in the post, spam is frequently cited as one of the worst things about the Internet. Nor is it a new phenomenon, the first spam being sent by a marketing rep to every ARPANET address on the West Coast of America in 1978 - though it hadn't yet been dubbed spam. The term was being used in other connotations from the late 1980s before it was commonly applied to emails, it being a generic term to describe any kind of Internet abuse. Even the origins of the term are unclear. Many observers apparently related the flooding of a chat room or computer with a nonsensical repetitive text to the Monty Python sketch, the spam song. Others argue that it is an acronym of either Single Post to All Message-bases or Simultaneously Posted Advertising Message - although both of these seem to have appeared after the term was in common use. Whilst a multitude of definitions for spam exist, there is [to date] no finite definition of spam that is accepted, or recognized, by everyone.

Definitions in legal documents offer little help towards clarity. The CAN-SPAM Act defines spam as 'any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service [including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose].' The Act exempts transactional or relationship messages.

Article 13 of the European Union Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications [2002/58/EC] refers to ' …unsolicited communications for the purposes of direct marketing … without the consent of the subscribers concerned or in respect of subscribers who do not wish to receive these communications'.

Disputes over the definition revolve around a number of words or phrases that most frequently appear in definitions. With examples of arguments raised, they are:

* Unwanted, irrelevant, or inappropriate. Each of these is subjective, the spam sender might argue it is all of these, the receiver none.

* Unsolicited, meaning without permission or request. Although recipients can opt-in [or opt-out] of receiving emails from specific organizations, does opting-in mean the receiver agrees to all emails, even if they consider them irrelevant or inappropriate?

* Bulk, or mass. Certainly much of what is generally perceived as spam is where an identical message is sent in bulk to multiple email addresses, but what is bulk? A million, a thousand, one hundred, ten?

Whilst few argue against the millions of un-requested emails selling unwanted products being spam, the case is not always so clear. Take the following case as an example. Suppose that the manufacturer of a new type of safety valve for scuba diving air bottles trawls the web looking for scuba diving clubs all over the world. He then sends a polite email to each club's email address pointing out the potentially life-saving advantages of using the valve, with a link to the company website. Is this spam - or is it good business practice?

Historical elements of the above were gleaned from Brad Templeton's history of spam, available on:

Spam [2] websites     A close relative to the practice of domain name parking [2] , these are websites, including blog pages, that are filled with nonsensical content that has been harvested [by scrapers] from other sites purely to appeal to search engines - and advertisers. The concept is this. Online advertising networks place targeted ads on web pages where the content of the web page and the ads have some synthesis - hotels, car hire or airlines on a portal for Athens, for example. The scammers apply this model, but instead of going to the effort of creating - and maintaining - a genuine website, they either [a] develop web pages full of relevant content gathered from other websites, or [b] use relatively unskilled - and cheap - labour to produce content. This content could be an article, a paragraph or just a sentence. It is all shuffled [to avoid search engines spotting it as duplicate material] and dumped on a page. To the human visitor the content is of little value or makes no sense at all - but they do not know that when they see the page listed on a search engine results page and click on to it. Naturally, they leave immediately, but not before the ads have registered as being downloaded - so returning an income for the page's publisher on a pay per impression advertising agreement. Those spam sites with 'better' content [i.e. the users do not leave immediately] might also benefit from income from pay per click agreements - such sites being dubbed word farms. 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 pages. See also click fraud.

Spam [3] blogs     see blog spam.

SpamAssassin     An open source project from the Apache Software Foundation, SpamAssassin is a software programme that filters emails for spam. The program runs each email message through hundreds of tests analyzing such things as text and HTML coding as well as checking domain names and IP addresses against DNS blocklists and filtering databases. Each of the tests it performs is graded, so failing any test results in a score of anything from a fraction of a point to multiple points. If an email scores too many points, SpamAssassin rejects it. Rather like search engine algorithms, the actual scoring system is a secret, though most checkers agree that a score of 5 or more will see an email rejected. The email marketer should be aware of the SpamAssassin tests in order to not only comply with them, but also use them as a benchmark for good practice.

Spam button     In an attempt to cut down spam some Internet service providers [ISPs] and email service providers [ESPs] provide users with a simple and easy to use system of reporting a spam email, a this is spam - or report spam - button featured prominently in the users email window. Clicking on the button alerts the ISP that the receiver considers the email to be spam. The ISP records such reports and if the same sender appears frequently they are blacklisted, with all emails from that sender being filtered out [see spam filter]. Whilst noble in its intentions, the use of spam buttons can be a major problem to genuine email marketers. User's ignorance of the potential damage to reputable senders of using the spam button can cause a sender to have all their emails to any user of that ISP blocked - a significant number if the ISP is, for example, AOL. Various research has shown that around a third of users click their spam button when they do not find an email interesting - even though they have previously agreed [ opted in] to receive emails from that sender. To address the issue of 'anonymous' spam reports, service providers use a feedback loop.

Spamdress     An abbreviation of spam email address - something a person might use as a secondary email address when completing an online form for discussion forums or similar sites where the user is unsure of the credibility of the site. The idea is that if the site then divulges the email address to third parties for use in spamming, the users primary email address is not deluged with any resulting spam.

Spam filter     Also known as a mail filter, this is a piece of software that takes in email messages and makes a decision, based on pre-selected criteria, whether or not to forward it to its addressee. Normally operated by Internet service providers [ISPs], email service providers [ESPs] or IT departments for organizations with their own mail servers, the filters are designed to block spam. Although they are becoming increasingly complex [in order to address equally complex technology used by spammers], a basic filter would be to block any email with words like 'free' or 'sex' in an email's subject line. See also filtering database and DNS blocklist, email bounce, email accreditation and do not use words.

Spam trigger     Any element of an email that attracts the notice of a spam filter.

Spam websites     see spam [2] websites

Spammer     Someone who sends spam.

Spear-phishing     see phishing.

Special interest portal     see portals.

Specialized search    see vertical search.

Specialty search
    see vertical search.

SPF [Sender Policy Framework]     The standard Internet protocol for transmitting email [SMTP] allows any computer to send email claiming to be from anyone - so making it easy for spammers to send emails from forged addresses. An extension to SMTP, SPF makes it easier to track forged 'from' addresses in emails, so helping to counter spam. SenderID is Microsoft's model of SPF.

Sphere of influence     Although the term has much wider applications in environmental or political terms, in digital marketing the sphere of influence applies to elements of the Internet where the organization has [a] control of the content, and so [b] can exert an influence on the user - complete an online sale, for example - effectively, this is any aspect of the organization's web presence.

Spider     Also known as a bot [short for robot] or crawler a spider is a software application used by search engines to crawl around the web and gather information about web pages for their index. Although the inference is that the spider actually wanders around the web gathering data, it actually goes nowhere. They reside on their own servers and send out requests to websites in the same way as a browser does, but instead of downloading pages for viewing, it indexes the content. See also botnet.

Spikes     see search spikes.

Spinning logo     In the early days of the web, if a designer wanted to show off their skills they most commonly used animated gifs - so much so that it became almost obligatory to have a spinning logo on every website. That is, the organization's logo would spin or rotate rather than remaining static on the page. The best websites saw beyond the novelty and the fashion soon died. Since then, any inappropriate design that pampers to the vanity of the designer rather than the satisfaction of customers is given the derogatory description of being a spinning logo. The same description can be used for the phrase flaming logo - something IBM parodied in a TV ad campaign in the late 1990s. Spinning logos were early incarnations of whistles and bells.

Spiral of Prosperity     A model from direct marketing, based on data base marketing, that presumes that the more that is known about a customer, the better their needs can be satisfied - the spiral representing the increase in knowledge about the customer.

Splash page     A term used to describe the first page of a website that uses Flash [™] type technology. A splash page appears before the site's home page, and is normally used to give visitors instruction or advice on how to use the website or feature gratuitous music and/or a welcome message. Splash pages are generally frowned on by marketers as they contravene the rule of one, and many see the splash page as the contemporary version of the spinning logo. Splash pages are very similar to Flash front pages and many people do not differentiate between the two.

Sponsored ad     see sponsored listing.

Sponsored conversations     Something of a misnomer as the conversation in question is a blog - which might be considered to be something of a one-sided conversation. In this practice an organization, product or brand pays a blogger to write complementary comments about it. The sponsorship may be declared or covert.

Sponsored listing     When a user inputs a query to a search engine, the results page may include ads that have been purchased based on the keywords used in the search. These ads were formely described by the search engines as sponsored listings or sponsored matches - as opposed to organic listings - though in essence, they are ads.

Sponsorship     Online sponsorship follows the same basic model as that offline. However, there are other interpretations that are unique to the web. These include:

* The most common interpretation is for an organization to sponsor an entire website, a sports equipment manufacturer sponsoring the website of a sporting event, for example. As with its offline relative, sponsorship of websites treads a fine line between sponsorship and advertising.

* Common practice, particularly in the early days of the web, was for Internet development companies [web designers, for example] to build, host and maintain websites for charities, clubs and other non-profit organizations. These sponsored sites served as examples of their work in the developer's portfolio.
* Sponsorship is used to describe advertising on search engines, see sponsored listing.

Spy chip    See RFID.

Spyware     The generic title given to software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without their knowledge [sometimes using lureware]. Although the term originally referred to malicious use of such software - its association with theft of personal information, for example - its use in advertising [see adware] and e-metrics has seen public attitude towards the concept soften.

Squeeze page     A web page devoted to encouraging respondents to opt-in to an email list. Although they can be effective, they are frowned on by many as there is often an element of persuasion involved - and often no way to leave the page other than by leaving your details on the opt-in form.

SQL [Structured Query Language]     A specialized programming language which is used for sending queries to databases.

SSL [Secure Sockets Layer]     A protocol designed by Netscape Communications which enables encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet. SSL is used mostly [but not exclusively] in communications between web browsers and web servers. One of the first, and so most popular systems for making secure online purchases, SSL is often used as a generic term for the practice.

Status bar     The bar at the bottom of a web browser window that which provides information on the status of the web page which is loading. This would include the URL of the website being accessed, plus that of the Ad server if there are ads on the page. When the page is fully downloaded the bar simply says 'done'. Users of broadband would normally only see the URL[s] briefly as the page downloads, sometimes the download is so fast that users see only the 'done' message. If a web page is hanging without downloading fully, the status bar will show the URL of the page [or ad] that is causing the problem.

Stealth marketing     In an offline environment this is the practice of hiring people to surreptitiously recommend a product or service - a brand of beer in a crowded bar, for example. Online, the practice would take place in chat rooms, forums or social media sites.

Stemming     The ability of search engines to recognize the stem of words and return derivatives in searches. For example, stemming allows a user to enter 'hunter' and get back results that include hunt and hunting.

Stickiness     Popular in the early days of the commercial web, use of this term faded a little, only to make a comeback more recently. It describes the ability of a website to retain the attention and presence of a visitor - that is, how long they stick on the site. A sticky site will keep visitors on it for longer than a non-sticky site. In Internet marketing environments, the term has mostly been superceded by such phrases - and practices - as persuasion architecture and usability.

Stop words     Also known as filter words, these are words that because they add little semantic value are ignored by search engines when used in a search term - it is, therefore, a waste of time for a searcher to type such words into a search box. Common stop words include; 'and', 'to', 'or', and 'the'.

Storefront     In an e-commerce context, this term mirrors its offline equivalent, describing that part of a website where goods are displayed and offered for online-sale. See also back office and virtual mall.

Storyboarding     A practice in website development that was adopted from the TV advertising industry, this is the use of drawings or screenshots of partially complete, or mocked-up, web pages to review the design with customers [external] or stakeholders [internal]. Storyboarding might be used as an element of a wireframe.

Strap line     see tag line.

Streaming [audio/video]     A technique for transferring data such that it can be processed as a steady and continuous stream so that the recipient of a file does not have to wait for a whole file to download before listening or viewing. Effectively, the user can be watching and/or listening to the content whilst it is still actually arriving - streaming - onto their computer.

Style guide     Although even the smallest website should follow a pre-determined style guide, this is something found more commonly in larger organizations where there may be a number of people and/or departments responsible for the organization's web pages. This is particularly true of international companies who have different websites for each country in which they trade. Similarly, a University might have a number of schools, all of which have responsibility for their own web presence. A style guide helps to convey a consistent, accurate message and image of the organization - in marketing terms, this would be an element of branding. Considerations for a style guide might include:

* Content - norms for grammar, spelling and syntax.

* Creative - maximum pixel and byte size for images.

* Corporate - colours, fonts, logos.

* Technical - source code, meta tags.

* Legal - disclaimers, copyright.

Sub domaining     A term used to describe an aspect of domain name parking [2] where third level domain names - sometimes referred to as sub domains - are used to develop websites that consist only of ads. For example, might attract searchers who are seeking that product in that location.

Subject line     The part of an incoming email which [should] tell the receiver what the email is about. In email marketing, it is an essential - if not the essential - aspect of the textual content of the message. If the subject line does not appeal to, or attract, the attention of the receiver they are likely to delete the email without even opening, let alone reading, it.

Sub-viral     see viral marketing.

Superstitual     see pop under ad.

Surfer [surfing]     Someone who spends time travelling - surfing - around the web. To surf suggest a lack of direction or objective for being online, whilst a user is online for a purpose - though this is a somewhat pedantic distinction and the two terms are often inter-changed. See also meanderthals.

Surround sessions     A form of ad presentation in which a visitor to a website sees only ads for one product, brand or organization. First introduced by the New York Times' online edition [] in 2001, the format can incorporate sequential advertising.

T-1     A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 1,544,000 bits-per-second. At maximum theoretical capacity, a T-1 line could move a megabyte in less than 10 seconds. That is still not fast enough for full-screen, full-motion video, for which you need at least 10,000,000 bits-per-second. T-1 is the fastest speed commonly used to connect networks to the Internet.

T-3     A leased-line connection capable of carrying data at 44,736,000 bits-per-second. This is more than enough to do full-screen, full-motion video. T-3 lines are used mainly by Internet service providers connecting to the Internet backbone and for the backbone itself.

Tabbed browsing     A feature in browsers, tabbed browsing allows users to visit multiple pages by loading the websites into tabbed sections of one page, rather than opening multiple pages. The advantage for users is that they can jump between sites quickly and easily, perhaps to follow a link from a news story without losing their place in the original text.

Tablet computer     Normally abbreviated to simply tablet, this is a computer with a touchscreen display that accepts input directly onto an LCD screen rather than via a keyboard or mouse. The tablets circuitry and battery are integral to the device, essential presenting the whole thing as a screen.

Tag     An instruction inserted in a document that identifies how the document, or a portion of that document, should be read by a software application. For wider applications of tags, tagging and tagged see folksonomy.

Tag line     Also known as a strap line, this is a slogan or phrase used to promote a product, service or brand. It may express a particular attribute of the product, or be more generic. In print media the tag line might be the only text used, in TV ads it might be the last spoken content - it is tagged-on to the ad. Often it will be a theme to a campaign, particularly in brand advertising - Nike's 'Just do it', for example. Online, a tag line can be used as the page header or footer, particularly if it is descriptive.

Target page     The page to which a user is taken when they click on a link, the source of the link being the anchor tag. Target page is the term normally used by web designers, with destination site - which is effectively the same thing - being used by web surfers.

TCP/IP [Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol]     A group of protocols that specify how computers communicate over the Internet. All computers on the Internet need TCP/IP software.

Techies     A non-abusive term bestowed on people whose work is primarily the development, or operation, of technical aspects of the Internet in particular or computing in general. In America - at the likes of Google, where such folks all have PHds - they are engineers. See also creatives.

Template     see website template.

Terabyte     see byte.

Terminator website     named in reference to the Hollywood movie in which machines are able to think for themselves, the terminator site uses technology to reduce human input - and interaction - to a business process. The concept is that while people can make mistakes, be unreliable or emotional when dealing with customers - computers have none of these human traits. Examples include Amazon-style automated 'people who bought this also bought this … ' sales advice or integrated warehouse management systems that inform customers of stock availability.

Terms and conditions     Conditions or stipulations limiting what is proposed to be granted or done, or something demanded or required as a prerequisite. In digital marketing terms this is a legal statement that should be included on all websites to make clear to the user the terms and conditions that apply when dealing with that organization. Like disclaimers and a privacy policy, any terms and conditions should be written by a qualified person.

Test big [verb]     A slang term meaning to carry out a test that uses, or presents, something radically different to that used previously. An element of risk is normally associated with such an undertaking.

Testimonials     Popular for many years in direct marketing, customer testimonials are recommendations from satisfied users of a product or service. Unlike consumer generated content, however, testimonials will have been communicated directly to the selling organization rather than being posted in third party websites. Testimonials' popularity with direct marketers reflects that they are an established method of gaining trust with potential customers and are an element of the concept of social proof.

Text file     A file whose data is set down as words, sentences and paragraphs that are readable by humans. Microsoft Word documents are text files.

Text-link ads     a concept which stems from the practice - often in affiliate marketing - of making links out of references to a product within textual content, something that is effective when compared to other methods of on-page advertising. For example, the author of a gardening site might recommend a book on the subject at hand. Within the text, where the book is mentioned its title would be a link to a landing page.

Text only email     see email specification.

Third-party ad server     see ad server.

Third-party logistics [3PL] supplier     see fulfilment house.

Thread     The original posting and a series of follow-up related messages in an Internet discussion forum. For example, on a car related forum the thread might be started by posting asking for advice on a particular mechanical problem, with subsequent postings of advice being continuations of the thread.

Tiered web delivery     see net [network] neutrality.

TIFF [Tag Image File Format]     A defacto standard format for image files, TIFF is a popular format for transmitting high colour depth images. It is rarely used on the Internet because a TIFF image, due to its clarity, is too large a file and so would download slowly.

Tilde search     see Boolean search.

Tiling     The term used to describe what the user sees when a website causes multiple browser windows - pop unders - to be opened. This is considered to be bad practice, and rarely seen away from adult websites.

Time Based Bidding     A tactic from the management of advertisers' ad listings on PPC search engines, time based bidding takes into account that in some industries conversion rates can vary by time of day and day of week. The use of bid management software permits online advertisers to control bids and campaigns on a time and day basis -lowering bids on days that are notoriously poor for conversation, for example.

TLD [Top Level Domain]    see dns.

Toolbar     That part of a software or browser window that includes icons or textual descriptions for specific commands or actions. The toolbar on a web browser would include, for example, icons for the back button [an arrow] or the browser's homepage [a house]. The actual contents of a toolbar can be set by the user and are significant in determining the viewable area of a computer screen.

Touch points     A term used to describe the various points in which an organization can communicate with customers and prospects. An integral element to multi-channel marketing, the term is included here because Internet technology has added a number of virtually touch points [email, website] to the traditional hard points of contact [retail outlets, sales staff].

Traceroutes     A program that traces a packet from a user's computer to an Internet host, showing how many stages [hops] the packet requires - generally, the more hops the slower the download. Such a facility is normally used to check difficulties with downloading to find where the problem lies.

Trackback     Also known as a trackback PING, a reference to the original technology that was designed to track updates between websites, it is now more commonly recognized as the blogging equivalent of a backlink. This is where one blogger wishes to comment on, complement, or raise issues about the comments made by another blogger. The responding blogger would put a link in his/her reply to original comments, so allowing the reader to trackback to the original, so putting the reply in context. As with websites, the more more links going into a blog the more credibility that blog has with search engines [see also PageRank].

Trademark     A trade mark is any sign which can distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another. A sign includes, for example, words, logos, pictures, or a combination of these. Basically, a trademark is a badge of origin, used so that customers can recognize the product of a particular trader. To be registrable, a trade mark must be:

* Distinctive for the goods or services which you are applying to register it for, and

* Not deceptive, or contrary to law or morality, and

*Not similar or identical to any earlier marks for the same or similar goods or services.

Whilst any organization that uses the Internet in the course of its operations has the same considerations of trademark as those offline, there is one issue that is unique to digital marketing. The problem centres around the way search engine algorithms work - in that they seek to match a searcher's keywords with websites on which those keywords appear. Therefore, company 'A' might include on its website's tags the trademark name of company 'B'. The idea being that when a user searches on the [trademark] name of company 'B', the search engine results page will feature company 'A'. The practice has been outlawed in the US courts, but is still carried out by some less scrupulous operators. The same issue arises with the purchase of keywords in paid placement, though most search engines - as a result of legal action in the USA - now refuse bids on trademarked words.

Traffic     In a digital marketing environment, traffic is the body of visitors to a website, normally expressed as visitors within a stipulated period of time. Traffic is the online equivalent of the offline retail outlet's footfall. As with footfall, high volumes of traffic do not automatically equal high volumes of sales. Also, as with offline trading, acceptable profits can be made from low traffic - so long as it is the right traffic. See also niche marketing and long tail.

Traffic building campaign     A time specific promotional effort with the sole objective of driving traffic to a website. Promotions could be online [for example banner ads or search engine paid placement] and/or offline [for example TV or press ads]. Specific offline advertising might be part of a traffic building campaign. Online marketers should have distinct objectives for the website once users arrive at as a response to the traffic building campaign. A traffic building strategy is, by definition, a longer-term undertaking than a single campaign, and strategic in nature.

Traffic splitter code / traffic splitting     This is software that is used to divide traffic from links to or from a website. It is used in A/B testing where it is desirable for a single link to take every other user to a different web page [A or B] in order to access the performance of that page.

Transaction costs     A metric that can be greatly reduced by the use of the Internet as a medium for sales - and in limited circumstances - delivery. A transaction cost is the total cost of marketing, sales and distribution of a product. Online, the entire marketing effort could be conducted online at much reduced cost to that offline. In some circumstances - that of a niche product, for example - where organic listing on search engines is enough to generate business, the marketing costs are limited to those of the development, hosting and maintenance of the website. Similarly, those costs are the only ones involved in running the online retail outlet, and stock holding can be minimal as products can be ordered only in response to online orders. Also no goods are required for display purposes. An obvious added cost to the online retailer is that of delivery - unless it is an electronic product - though this can be either [a] included within a pricing policy, or [b] charged to the customer.

Transactional e-commerce site     A website that facilitates online purchases. Although it could apply to a B2B site where the transaction is the placing of an order - the term is more normally associated with online retailing where an electronic payment [e.g. credit card] is made at the time a purchase is made.

Transactional emails     see email marketing.

Trap address     see honeypot email address and opt in.

Trigger words     Words, terms or phrases that indicate to people that they are on the right web page [or email] and so give them confidence and encouragement to take the next step - or click. Trigger words should be part of the website's copy and should trigger a response from the reader. For example, if the customer is seeking information on a particular product, say a 'Adidas Samba Super', then they will scan the page for that term. If it is there, it will be the trigger for them to read more or follow the link [trigger words are well suited to be links]. Hit bolding works on the trigger word concept. See also persuasion architecture, persuasive momentum, and call to action.

Triggered email     see email marketing.

Trojan horse [Trojan]     A destructive program installed on a computer that masquerades as a benign application to encourage a user to execute a specific action. A Trojan horse is used for nefarious purposes, usually to compromise the security of a computer, so allowing remote access by unauthorized people. Unlike a virus however, a Trojan horse does not replicate itself, but it can be just as destructive.

Trusted link     In this case the trust is on the part of the search engines. The idea is that when a new website comes into the index of a search engine, part of its algorithm has to decide whether the site is what the keywords suggest it is. One of the methods used is to consider the links going into the new site. If any of those links are from what the search engine judges to be reputable sites - they are trusted links - the search engine will include the new site in its listings. For example, the BBC would be unlikely to have a link from its gardening pages to a site that wasn't relevant to gardening in some way, and certainly not an adult website.

TrustRank     see PageRank.

Turing Test     Named after its inventor, British mathematician Alan Turing, the test is a model to prove whether or not a machine [computer] can be considered to be intelligent. To date, no machine has passed the test, but research into artificial intelligence [AI] continues. To achieve AI the machine must have all the knowledge of a human so that it can make logical decisions. In digital marketing, whilst intelligent search is no where near being AI, it follows the concept.

Typosquatting     The practice of registering a domain name that is a variation on a popular domain name with a view to taking advantage of the general population's poor typing ability [see fat finger typos] by registering domain names of common miss-spellings of companies, brands or products. Although the name might be offered for sale by the organization that has squatted the name, the more common use is to host a website on the typo with the expectation that the site will get traffic because of users' miss-spelling of the name. See also domain name parking [2] and cybersquatter.

UI [user interface]     A close relative of usability, UI is a term used to describe the meeting of user and computer programs and the interface between the two. The issue of UI being how easy - or hard - it is for the user to achieve their needs and wants when using the computer. In a digital marketing environment, the interaction is between the user and the website - via their computer, with better UI meaning a greater chance of the site's objective being met. For digital marketing websites a major issue in UI is consistency, which may refer to keeping the functionality of a site the same throughout the site and over periods of time, or making the site operate in the way that visitors would expect it to - that is, use accepted methods of practice that are common on the most visited sites on the web.

Undifferentiated traffic     Users who visit a website [a] by accident, or [b] are misled into visiting [generally] by spam or poor search engine results. Whilst such visitors do no actual harm to a website [other than taking up bandwidth], they bring no benefits to the site's publishers. Their main disturbance is in the site's metrics, where visitor numbers are inflated. See also differentiated traffic.

Undirected information seeker     Unlike the directed information seeker, this is the individual who goes online with no particular aim or purpose. See also surfer.

Unique visitor     Also known as distinct visitor, this is a metric used in website analytics. A unique visitor to a website is one who has been identified, and so is included only once in a count of total visitors to that site. It is the norm that an appropriate reporting timeframe is used in identifying unique visitors.

Upload     To transfer a file or files from a user's computer to a remote computer. In digital marketing, a website designer would upload web page files to the Internet using FTP software.

UPS [Uninterruptible Power Supply]     A device that provides battery backup when mains electrical power fails. In a digital marketing environment the UPS would be installed to keep computers of all kinds - servers, for example - to keep running for a period of time until full power can be restored.

Up selling     A close relative of cross selling, up selling is where the salesperson offers an upgraded or higher specification product to increase sales value. As with cross selling, done properly, up selling is perceived by the buyer as being part of good service. For example, if a customer chooses their own PC off the shelf, but when the salesperson asks pertinent questions they discover that the buyer needs a higher specification machine to handle the uses for which they are buying the PC, and so advises one with a higher spec. Naturally, any up selling that exceeds the buyer's needs has the reverse effect. Whilst online cross selling is relatively straight forward, up selling is a more difficult transition. Offline the salesperson can ask the purchaser direct questions as part of a point of sale conversation. Online, having clicked on the buy now button it is [a] difficult to ask questions, and [b] risky, as the customer may be put off their purchase [see persuasive architecture]. However, a carefully worded prompt [see content 2] at the point of purchase might meet up selling objectives.

URI [Uniform Resource Identifier]     A generic term for all types of Internet names and addresses. A URL is one kind of URI.

URL [Uniform Resource Locator]     A series of characters that identifies a web page. Note that it is a common error to identify the first word as universal or even unified, rather than uniform. In simple terms, a web page's URL is its address on the web. To access the required page the URL must be entered into the browser exactly. A URL is made up of several parts. For example, the URL; consists of: the protocol [https], the domain name [www.], the path within the domain - in this case, a directory [UK] and the file [welcome], and the programming language [html]. See also domain names, protocol, HTML and HTTP.

URL rewriter [also known as rewrite engine ]     A software application that rewrites a site's URL's if they are extremely long or containing multiple variables. Such URLs are common in dynamic web pages, resulting in them not being indexed by search engines. In order to gain search engine rankings, URLs are rewritten in a more search engine-friendly fashion. For example a dynamic page of an online store containing product information on a digital radio might have the URL The URL rewriter would change the product page to something like

Usability     Web usability has its origins in the sciences of graphical user interface [GUI, pronounced gooey] and human computer interface [HCI] and it is, effectively, all about making a website user friendly. Although proponents of usability argue that it is the most important element of website design, this often runs contrary to the views of some designers, particularly those from a graphic design background. Most outspoken in favour is usability guru Jacob Nielsen - whose background is in HCI. In defense of his views on the importance of usability, he says: 'If a website is difficult to use, people leave. If the homepage fails to clearly state what a company offers and what users can do on the site, people leave. If users get lost on a website, they leave. If a website's information is hard to read or doesn't answer users' key questions, they leave'. Whilst Nielsen uses the term usability to encompass all aspects of website design, it can be difficult to identify where usability starts and other elements of website design begin. Good navigation, for example, is an integral part of good usability and yet it is normally discussed as a separate issue. See also usability testing and UI.

Usability testing     Unlike aesthetical elements of a website - for which any test is subjective - the usability of a website can be objectively assessed. Good practice in usability testing involves asking people who have no connection with the site's design to visit the website and perform certain tasks. Ideally the participants will be from the target market for the site and any tasks asked of the participants should be essential to meeting the objectives of the website - for example; buying a product, paying a bill or simply finding a contact phone number.

USENET     An online system of discussion groups, with comments passed among hundreds of thousands of machines. USENET is completely decentralized, with over 10,000 discussion areas, called newsgroups.

User     Generally speaking, in an online context the three terms user, surfer and browser mean the same thing - a person who accesses the web. However, in digital marketing terms the three can be differentiated. Hofacker [1999], for example, sub-divides surfers into two groups:

[i] Hedonistic surfers who use the web as an escapist pastime, rather like some people might use films or sports events, and

[ii] Utilitarian surfers who are on a mission, the web being a tool they use to search for and gather information.

The notion can be taken a stage further using Hofacker's distinction as a basis to discriminate user, surfer and browser. The description utilitarian can be applied to user - a digital marketing website user being someone who interacts with the site, or has the potential to be a customer. A surfer complies with Hofacker's hedonistic concept. Surfers are on the web as a hobby, they have no specific interest in digital marketing. Online browsers are the same as their offline equivalent - they might visit an e-commerce site, but are just looking and have little or no intention to purchase. Note however; [a] good content, copy and navigation can convert a surfer or browser to being a buyer, and [b] the same individually could, on different occasions, go online as a user, surfer or browser. They might even switch from one to the other in a single online-session.
Hofacker, C. F. [1999], Internet Marketing Digital Springs, Inc, 2nd edition.

User centric [centred] design     A buzz-phrase description of websites that are designed with the user's on-site experience the paramount consideration. Note that user centred design should result in a website having good usability.

User generated content [UGC]     See consumer generated content [CGC] .

User interface     The elements of a computer system that allow the user to communicate with the machine's operating system. In real terms this would be how easily the keyboard and mouse helps the user to meet their computer-based objectives. It is closely allied to usability in that the website should be designed such that the user can easily navigate with the fewest commands on the mouse and/or keyboard.

Username     see log in.

User session     A phrase that is somewhat confusing in that it applies an unconventional meaning for session - that of repetition. The term user session is used to describe the frequency of visits to a site over a specified period of time and not a single site visit - as a more common interpretation might be. The time period is variable based on the objectives of gathering the data. For example, on sites that offer independent reviews of hotels, a user might revisit the site a dozen times over an hour as they switch from travel sites offering deals on hotels back and forth to the review site to check reviews. In this case the dozen visits are classed as one user session.

USP [Unique Selling Proposition]     Although the concept has evolved over time to include other elements of the marketing mix, it originally applied only to advertising. In his book Reality in Advertising, Rosser Reeves, the concept's author, gave the following definition of a unique selling proposition. He said that:

* Each advertisement must make a proposition to the customer: 'buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.'

* The proposition itself must be unique - something that competitors do not, or will not, offer.

* The proposition must be strong enough to pull new customers to the product.

Although some websites, or elements of them could be described as advertising [and so qualify as being a USP], the concept of the unique value proposition [UVP] is more pertinent to the online marketer.
Reeves, R. [1961]. Reality in Advertising. Knopf

UVP [Unique Value Proposition]     A direct descendent of the unique selling proposition [USP] , the unique value proposition is the more appropriate of the two for the online marketer. Whilst the USP is associated with the product or its promotion, the UVP should answer the prospect's question; 'why should I do business with you and not your competitor?' Online, the website - primarily its textual content - must answer that question. Also, whilst the USP is related to the uniqueness of the offering from the point of view of the selling company, the UVP is all about the value of the offering from the perspective of the visitor. See also you are your website.

Validation     The online context of this term refers to checking - validating - a website's source code for errors that might cause problems for users when they visit the site. The procedure is software driven, and so can be purchased as a software package or as a service by a firm that will conduct the validation remotely.

Vanity search     Also known as an ego search, this is the act of using a search engine to search on your own name. Anyone doing so should be prepared for indifferent or bad results as well as complimentary. There is a serious business application, however. For someone whose reputation is an important aspect of the business they practice - a financial consultant, perhaps - it is well worth while checking up on what people are saying about you online.

VAR [value-added reseller]     Common in the electronics and computing industries, a VAR is an organization that that takes an existing product [or combination of products], adds some feature and then sells it - usually directly to end-users - as a new package. The added value will normally come from the professional services in which the VAR specializes. This could be training, customizing, consulting, or implementation. Online it is possible for the VAR to be a virtual business, using the web as the hub of its business model.

VDR    see virtual data room.

Vertical e-marketplace     see e-marketplace.

Vertical hub     see hub.

Vertical portal     see vortal.

Vertical search     Perhaps better described by two alternative phrases - specialized search or specialty search - vertical search is a type of search that digs deep in to a specific subject area to find information that is specific to the searched-for term. Vertical can be used to describe search engines which concentrate on one subject area - an industry, for example [see also vortal and e-marketplace].

Viewable area     The area of a user's computer screen which is available for website to be displayed. Fundamentally this will depend on the size of the user's screen. However, the physical size is not the only consideration as the user's own toolbar preferences will reduce the actual viewable space. The issue of viewable area is important for website developers as they need to determine how big to make each web page. Too small and screen space is wasted, too large and users will spend more time scrolling down, and worse, having to scroll across the page to read the content. It is possible for developers to design fixed size page [where all users see the same size] or flexible width where pages re-size themselves to suit each user's screen [so called fluid, liquid or responsive design]. Either option means sacrifices in other design elements and so the trade-offs should be considered carefully. See also above the fold.

View-based conversions     These are conversions which are judged on whether a user has seen - but not necessarily clicked on - a particular ad banner before going to the website promoted on that banner. This is made possible by having thead-server track if there is an impression of an ad on a web page that the user has downloaded, then record the fact to check if that user subsequently visits the target website. Although the model has flaws - the user may have been prompted to visit the site based on seeing ads in other media, for example - it can be useful for assessing ads that might have the objective of branding, rather than direct sales.

View page info     A facility available on most browsers. By right-clicking the mouse whilst on a web page, and selecting view page info from the resulting menu, a new window is opened which presents information such as the page's size and when it was last modified.

View page source [view source]     A facility available on most browsers. By right-clicking the mouse whilst on a web page, and selecting view page source from the resulting menu, a new window is opened which presents the source code of that page.

Viral     The term used to describe something [e.g. a meme] that spreads quickly across the web, normally via social media, i.e. 'it has gone viral'.

Viral marketing     Although the term was coined in the late 1990s by Steve Jurvetson [the venture capitalist behind], the practice has existed for as long as trade itself - though viral marketing is accepted as the online version. Jurvetson's own definition - network-enhanced word of mouth - betrays the origin of the concept. That is that a marketing message can be passed from individual to individual by word of mouth. However, for a viral campaign to be successful, the marketer must offer some motivation for the customer to pass the message on, not least that some kudos or reward comes from forwarding the message. The concept has also become commonly known as buzz marketing because a carefully crafted message can create a buzz in the market place. A variation on the viral theme which depends on an element of controversy is the sub-viral. This involves advertisers deliberately releasing spoofs of their own [offline] ads to the web in an effort to generate online buzz. For the idea to really work they will normally - initially at least - deny responsibility for the spoof, so increasing the controversy element of the tactic.

Virtual [as a prefix]     Rather like the ubiquitous 'e' [for electronic] and cyber prefixes, virtual has been added to numerous offline terms to describe their online application. It has generally come to be accepted that the prefix virtual means that whatever it precedes does not have a tangible form.

Virtual business     A business that trades only online, with no physical presence. Whilst it is impossible to have literally no physical presence, the true virtual business has practically none. An example might be a business that sells promotional mugs. The product is available only online, where customers select style, colour, message and quantity from options listed on the website. The order is then placed, and payment arranged. The owner of the business receives the order and passes it on to a manufacture who sends the mugs to the customer and an invoice to the seller. The virtual business has never stocked, or even taken ownership of the product - but has made a profit from the transaction. The ultimate virtual business would actually have the customer's online order processed and forwarded to the mug manufacturer by computer, with the virtual business owner having no input or involvement in individual transactions. Whilst such automation is possible, true virtual applications are rare. In the early days of the Internet, businesses like Amazon were erroneously described as virtual - this is not the case as Amazon [even in its early days] has physical distribution and administrative centres. See also drop shipping and fulfilment house. It should also be noted that although the phrase has been popularized by its association with online businesses, the concept of the virtual business has long existed in the offline environment - though like the online version, the virtual business must have at least minimal physical presence. Examples include the agent who facilitates purchase, transport, logistics and sale of goods without ever taking possession of them and the business that facilitates projects by managing the outsourcing of tasks necessary to complete that project.

Virtual community     An element of the wider phenomenon known as social media, this phrase is attributed to Howard Rheingold [author and founding executive editor of Hotwired], which refers to the way in which people can interact with each other using information technologies [rather than face to face contact]. Although Rheingold's comments came before common public use of the Internet, it is the Internet that embraced the concept and made the virtual community what we know it as today. As with an offline community, the virtual - or online - community can have many attributes, such as shared interests, common traditions, common ownership and mutual advantage. Virtual community websites are now commonly referred to as portals, indeed it is often difficult to differentiate between the two. For the online marketer the virtual community should be considered as an element of consumer generated content. Of particular relevance in this context is that virtual communities, by their very nature, are supported by people who are out-going, vociferous even - sometimes to the point of being evangelical - about their chosen interests. In marketing terms, these people are not only early adopters of new products, but are referred to as influencers - that is, those individuals whose opinions others, both in and outside that community, listen to and follow. It is worth noting that for a group of people who visit a specific website to be recognized as a community [of that website] those visitors must register - or join - the community. Simply being a visitor to a website does not qualify a person as being part of its community. See also customer evangelists and networks.

Virtual Data Room [VDR]     Also known as virtual deal room, this is a series of extranets that provide a secure online repository of data available to authorized users and a confidential virtual meeting room for professionals and their clients.

Virtual learning environment [VLE]     Term used to describe a type of intranet that makes available online teaching and learning facilities. Most universities [if not all] will have a VLE, as will distance-learning educators and the training departments of large organizations. Although a VLE could be bespoke, the market is dominated by a small number of companies who offer a personalized version of their standard product. At their most basic level, a VLE will facilitate contact between staff and students, though this would be to vastly under-use the services on offer, which might include such things as online assessment.

Virtual mall     Taken from the American term for shopping centres - malls - a virtual mall is a website that features a number of different shops. In the early days of the commercial web many offline retailers mistrusted the Internet and didn't have websites hosted on their own domain names, so they sold goods on the website of a third party. The falling cost of the design, maintenance and hosting of an e-commerce website has seen even the smallest companies be able to afford their own online shop, resulting in a fall in demand for virtual malls.

Virtual marketplace     see e-marketplace and butterfly model.

Virtual press kit     see electronic press room.

Virtual Private Network [VPN]     This term usually refers to a network in which some of the parts are connected using the public Internet, but the data sent across the Internet is encrypted - so making the entire network virtually private. A typical example would be a company network where there are two offices in different cities. Using the Internet the two offices merge their networks into one network, but encrypt traffic that uses the Internet link.

Virus     In a computing environment, this is a program that, when executed, attaches itself to other programs on a computer which then transfer that virus to other programs or users. A virus will normally cause damage to any program it comes in contact with. Part of the function of a firewall is to block viruses before they reach users computers. See also worm.

Visit     When someone downloads a website onto their browser, they are deemed to have made a visit to that website, making them a visitor to that site. However, it is the norm for e-metric purposes that they are only considered to have made a visit when they have been on more than one page of the website or have stayed on the page for more than a few seconds. See also unique visitor.

Visit duration     A metric used in website analytics, this is the length of a visit to a website measured in time. Note that visit duration is the time on the site without leaving. For short-time repeat visits, see user session.

Visit frequency     A metric used in website analytics, this is how often a user visits a specific website. See also RFM.

Visit tenure     A metric used in website analytics, this is the time that has elapsed since a visitor's first visit to a specific website. It is valuable in assessing customer loyalty.

Visitor     In an online environment this is something of a misnomer in that whilst the visitor is tangible, the place they visit exists only on the Internet - and so is not visited in physical terms. In digital marketing, a visitor is an individual who downloads a website onto their browser - that is, they visit it. For purposes of website analytics, some sites will count someone as a visitor only if they stay on the site for a given period of time [visit duration] or move deeper into the site than the home page. A visitor session is a visitor's time and activity on a website in one distinct visit [session] on the site. See also unique visitor.

Bryan Eisenberg at Future Now Inc [] proposes that there are four different categories of visitors that might land on a website:

* Those one who know exactly what they want and if presented with it will make a purchase.

* Those who have a pretty good idea of what they want and would buy if presented with the right item, but are still in the process of narrowing there final decision.

* Those who don't have anything specific in mind, but would buy if they came across something of interest [think window-shopper].

* Those one who have landed on the site by mistake.
He argues that all websites should cater to all of these groups and so are significant in his concept of persuasion architecture.

Visitor session     see visit.

Visual rendering tool [VRT]     Software tools designed to assist online marketers with email specification. The basic problem is that the email clients of different Internet service providers [ISPs] do not deliver emails in a uniform format. For example, an image that is an important part of an email marketing message might download perfectly on one email system, but not appear at all on another. Rather than test an email by sending it to addresses on all the possible systems, the VRT will show the email as it is presented by different ISPs, so performing not only an aid to email creation and design, but also quality assurance checks. See also render.

Vlog     A combination of video and log, this is a blog delivered on video rather than text or voice only.

Vodcast     Although video has been available online for some years, the practice of presenting a specific piece of information in a video - a speech to shareholders, for example - has been dubbed a vodcast. The term being an adaptation of podcast. See also webcast.

Voken     see floating ads.

VOIP [Voice Over Internet Protocol]     The technical name for the protocol used in e-telephony.

Vortal [vertical industry portal]     A term used to describe a portal website that provides information and resources for a specific business sector or industry, that is the focus is narrow but deep [vertical], rather than wide and shallow [horizontal]. See also e-marketplace.

VPN     see virtual private network

W3C     see world wide web consortium.

Walled garden     The description given to online services that are deliberately limited, or reduced, in some way. Walled garden has been adopted to describe a number of diverse limitations on services available or accessible, from mobile platforms that do not have full web capacity, through websites which link only to each other to password protected environments provided by Internet service providers [with moderated content for children, for example]. A less common use of the term is where it is used to suggest limited thinking with regard to how the Internet is used or applied. For example, to encourage more imaginative ideas about digital marketing strategies, a manager might suggest that staff 'think outside the walled garden.'

WAN [Wide Area Network]     Any internet or network that covers an area larger than a single building. A university, for example, might use a WAN to network the PCs on its campus.

WAP [Wireless Application protocol]     The most popular protocol for applications that use wireless communication - Internet access from a mobile device, for example - WAP helps address the limitations of small devices. Devices with such facilities are deemed to be WAP-enabled.

WAV [WAVE form audio format]     An audio file format used for storing audio on computers. Though largely superseded by MP3 files, WAV files can still be found on the web, usually containing short sound bites taken from other media - catch phrases or short quotes from TV characters, for example.

WCR     see whitelist challenge and response.

Web 2.0     A title originally coined by O'Reilly Media in 2004 to promote a series of conferences, web 2.0 refers to the second generation of the Internet. Unfortunately, its subsequent proponents have not yet determined when this will happen or how it will be different from version 1.0. Some argue that because it changed the fundamental way in which web pages refresh Flash[™] type technology heralded the introduction of web 2.0, others link it to the semantic web concept. It is not unusual for commentators - and some academics - to reference web 2.0 to convey that they are thinking at the leading edge of Internet development, whilst some companies use the term in their marketing as a buzzword to infer that the company incorporates all the latest Internet technologies and techniques into the services it offers. Such is the state of flux in determining what denotes web 2.0 that some writers are already referring to certain applications - the semantic web, for example - as web 3.0. See also social media.

Web     see world wide web.

Web address     This term is employed in two related, though different, ways. Marketers use web address in a literal manner by associating the term with the organization's domain name. Whilst this is a reasonable description, it is more accurate when referring to the online presence of the organization. An offline analogy would be to say that a domain name is the name of the building in which the organization resides, but it does not tell on which floor and in which office the CEO can be found. The more specific interpretation comes from the technical department, where the URL is considered to be the web address as it gives details of a specific web page, rather than simply the website. To continue the offline analogy, the directory and file - added to the domain name - in the URL, give the floor and office numbers.

Web app     See app.

Web billboards     see domain name parking [2] .

Web browser     Someone who browses the web - see user, or a computer program that facilitates access to the web, see browser [1] .

Web bug     Also known as a clear GIF, this is a graphic image - often transparent - that is embedded in web pages. Too small for the human eye to detect, the image is placed on a website for the purpose of collecting information about visitors to the site. It will normally be used in combination with a cookie. When included in an email, a web bug can be used to tell if the receiver has opened the email [though note this only works if the email system is not set to block HTML images - many do so as their default setting].

Webcast     A video or audio broadcast transmitted over the world wide web. Originally the webcast would be available only as the broadcast went out live - though now webcasts are routinely made available as a podcast [audio] or vodcast [video].

Web constellation     A collection of websites that are all part of one organization, parent company or brand but are developed for different audiences or market segments.

Web content     see content.

Web crawler    see spider.

Web feed     see content aggregator.

Webinar     A seminar held on the web. A seminar has two primary definitions, both involve people discussing a subject, but one is tutor - student oriented and the other more inclined towards the exchange of information. The webinar is more popular in as the latter. Whilst virtual learning environments normally include online seminars where a teacher can facilitate and control discussion between students in a chat room scenario, the webinar lends itself better to discussion groups where all parties bring equal knowledge and experience and through the discussion disseminate it amongst other participants.

Web logs     see log files.

Web mail     The interface that allows users to access an email account through a web browser. Web mail services are provided by Internet service providers or dedicated email services [for example Google, Yahoo!, or perhaps the most popular, Hotmail]. The advantage of using web mail is that by entering their username and password, email can be accessed by users from any Internet-connected computer anywhere in the world.

Webmaster     The name sometimes given to the person in charge of, or responsible for, maintaining the technical aspects of a website. The term owes its status to the early days of the Internet, where it was not unusual for the website to be the domain of one person - the webmaster. As the web has evolved it is now rarely the case that one person has responsibility for an organization's web presence [though it is still possible in micro businesses], so the singular title is somewhat redundant. However, the term is still usefully employed as a generic contact email address for people reporting faults on a website, or querying use and/or operating procedures on it. When employed as the technical person in a team of people responsible for a web presence it has become common practice for the term website administrator to replace webmaster.

Web page     Something of a metaphor [from the print media] used to describe an HTML document when presented on the world wide web. In the early days of the web, when users began to access websites, a term was needed to describe each element of the website - and the association with the offline printed pages was obvious. It is still the case that many web presences resemble a printed page, and so for them the term 'page' is still valid. However, the metaphor is not as compelling when the web experience is a video or music download.

Web presence     Although an organization's website could be described as its web presence, the term web presence is normally used where the organization might have more than one website, an extensive site or a presence on one or more social media platforms. It might also mean that the organization has some content on the sites of others, or that it advertises on the web [an advertising presence].

Web publisher     Someone who publishes on the world wide web. The actual definition can vary depending on the environment in which it is used. There are four common interpretations:

* As with the offline newspaper or book, where the author writes the content etc, but it is * published by a controlling organization.

* In a more generic sense, that all sites on the web have been published on the web.

* That an organization publishes its own website - or at least the content contained in it. This reflects offline practice where a business might say it publishes its own product catalogue.

* That a web design and hosting company publishes a website for its client.

All of these have an element of reason to them - making it hard to argue against, or in favour of, any. As with many Internet related terms, this is another that might become more finite as the years pass.

Web ring     Once very popular with non-commercial sites, but with the ascendancy of search engines the practice has all but disappeared. The idea is for groups of individual websites that have a mutual subject to link to each other in a chain - or ring. That is, A links to B, which links to C and so on until the last member links back to A. This means that whichever site the user lands on first, they can visit each by following the links on each site around the ring.

Web server     A server that hosts a website [or sites]. Most web servers are operated by companies that sell web space on them as a business model, although large businesses and organizations may have their own - as will larger e-commerce operators. However, technology has driven the cost of servers down and it is now feasible for even small companies to have their own web server - though maintenance is an issue. See also dedicated server.

Website     Technically, a collection of appropriate files that are presented on the world wide web by means of an FTP transfer. More generically, however, it is the name given to a collection of web pages that are associated with a particular person, organization, entity or brand. - for example 'it is the company's website'.

Note that website can be presented as two words or one - website. As there is no absolute rendition based on any objective consideration, whether it is presented as one or two words is left to the personal preference of the person doing the writing.

Website accessibility     Although accessibility is important for all website users, for most it is addressed generically under the headings of navigation and usability. More specific issues of accessibility are associated with those users who have certain disabilities. As more countries pass laws stating that websites must be accessible to disabled people, the issue of making a website accessible to all Internet users has moved from one of business and ethical, to legal grounds. However, to address accessibility issues to indulge social pressure or respond to legal enforcement would suggest that the organization's website development has not followed best business practice in the first place. The Worldwide Web Consortium, under the auspices of its Web Accessibility Initiative, has produced a comprehensive set of guidelines for the creation of accessible websites - the guidelines are organized to allow for three levels of compliance and have been widely adopted.

Website administrator     see webmaster.

Website analytics     As with all business expenditures, websites must be able to show a return on investment [ROI]. To help assess any return, metrics of the website - e-metrics - can be gathered and analysed. The actual e-metrics harvested for a site will depend on the objectives of that site. For example; if the objective is to increase sales, metrics harvested might include such things as sales volume and average order size. An objective of improving after sales service would require such metrics as page download numbers or the length of time a user spends on the site [where long stays might be bad, an indication that the information sought is hard or impossible to find]. On the other hand, if the goal of the website is to develop the brand, long stays might be considered a good thing. Analysis of such metrics will provide information on which the marketer can act both tactically and strategically. See also key performance indicator.

Website availability     A figure - expressed as a percentage - that is of great interest to the e-commerce trader as it signifies how often a website is available to the user. Whilst 100 per cent is preferable, even the best in the business will suffer the occasional down-time -possibly through no fault of their own - therefore the high nineties is the norm, less than 98 per cent is problematic.

Website bounce     An element of website analytics, this refers to a website visitor who either [a] gets no further than the page on which they enter the site, or [b] stay on the site for less than five seconds - effectively, they bounce straight off to another site. Too many visitors bouncing would indicate there is an issue with either the website content - it doesn't appeal to the visitor - or the places from which they are referred - for example, poor keyword selection for search engine paid placement.

Website navigation     see navigation.

Website personalization     Once predicted to be the killer application of the Internet, personalized websites have never quite lived up to that billing. The theory was that using the personal details and demographics of an individual, a website could be personalized for each customer as they arrive at it. Personalization would then create a one-to-one sales situation for every sale. Whilst proponents continue to argue that the concept still has potential, in reality the marketing Holy-Grail of one-to-one online-sales scenarios still seems a way off - not least because users are reluctant to reveal the personal details necessary for the concept to truly succeed. To date there are three main types of website personalization being practiced:

* Ad personalization. The type made popular by Amazon, where ads are delivered based on the users purchase history. Such applications rely on the visitor having previously registered with the site - perhaps when making a purchase.

* Content personalization. Similar to the previous model, but with personalised content being delivered. for example, Yahoo!'s homepage allows users to pick and choose the news and entertainment content relevant to them.

* Segment personalization. This is where the home page of the website requests users to identify their basic demographics. This in turn changes the presentation of the site, perhaps its content, and certainly any ads it carries will be changed. The most basic demographic for this type of personalization is male or female.

It should be noted that whilst B2C sites generate the most publicity, B2B sites can offer better opportunities for personalization because of the potential for closer relationships between vendors and customers.

Website redirect     Sometimes known as domain name redirection - for the user the result is the same - and a close relative of the meta refresh, the website redirect is most commonly used when a domain name has been withdrawn or made redundant - if a company moves it website from one domain name to another, for example. There are a number of HTTP response codes that can be used on the domain name's server, including:

301 A permanent redirect status indicating that the resource has moved permanently.

302 A temporary redirect status.

303 A 'See Other' status that indicates that the resource [website] has been replaced.

Selection of which to use is important for search engine optimization, as some search engine algorithms might see the redirection as a black hat SEO tactic.

Website registration     In order to restrict users to all or some of a website's content and/or facilities, they are required to register their details with the publishers of that site. Registration details can be used for database marketing purposes. Once registered, users would normally need to username and/or password to access the site.

Website template     Rather than starting with a blank screen for every web page, a format is developed which can then be used as a template for all the pages on that website. Templates have been largely replaced by cascading style sheets.

Website visitor     see visitor.

Webspace     The amount of space on a web server allocated to a live domain name [IP address] by its host. Webspace is normally measured in megabytes, and is charged for by the website hosting company - usually in megabyte sized slice chunks.

Web spam     see spam websites.

Web surfer    see user.

Web user    see user.

Webvert / webvertising     It is perhaps the confusing way in which these terms were used in the early days of the commercial Internet that is the reason for the decline in their use. Webverts were those websites that offered nothing [or little] more than would be presented in an advert in printed media. At the same time, banner ads placed on websites by third parties was called webvertising. The terms were popular in the legal community, but used little in the general commercial environment.

Welcome screen     Originally this was a term used for the first page of a website, so called because many websites started by welcoming visitors to the website of the organization. As the welcome message practice has dwindled so has the use of the welcome screen. A more unusual use of the term is for a welcome page to be developed for a particular purpose - an offline promotion, for example - though it is common practice for these to be called landing pages

What You See Is What You Get     see WYSIWYG.

Whistles and bells    A term used to describe those elements of a website that demonstrate leading edge technology. Although the term is generally used in a positive sense - describing a site to be 'complete with all the whistles and bells' as being one that incorporates all that technology has to offer, for example - it can also be used in an ironic, if not out-right negative, manner. The inference in this case being that some, if not all, of the technology being applied on the site is superfluous to the site's primary business objectives, and is included as a showcase of the designer's abilities. See also eye candy website and spinning logo.

White hat hacker     see hacker.

White hat search engine optimization     see search engine optimization.

Whitelist     So named because it serves the opposite purpose to a blacklist, more accurately this is an email whitelist, but in a digital marketing environment email is omitted. A whitelist is a list of email addresses that an Internet user is always willing to receive email from. Whitelists are registered with the user's Internet service provider [ISP] and override any spam filters the ISP might operate. It is common for the terms whitelist and safelist to be interchanged - the difference is, however, that the organization has a whitelist whilst individual users form their own safelists. See also whitelist challenge and response and spam button.

Whitelist building strategy     Where email marketers have a policy of encouraging new subscribers and so avoid having any subsequent emails being rejected as spam by the subscriber's Internet service provider. This is achieved by having a clear message on the subscription form asking the subscriber to add the company's email address to their address book, or safelist.

Whitelist challenge and response [WCR]     Anti-spamming software where the sender's email address must be on an approved whitelist. Emails from senders not on the whitelist are sent a challenge that the sender's system must respond to. Because many spammers do not use live email addresses, this challenge would receive no response and so the original email would be rejected. Whilst such a system reduces spam in the user's mailbox it can also block genuine emails from friends and/or business associates because [a] the sender does not have the friend on their whitelist, or [b] the friend is not on the receivers safelist.

White paper     A piece of literature that is a hybrid of an article and a sales brochure. Its purpose is to promote a product by providing the reader with useful information about a problem that is solved by the product the publishing organization is selling. The practice is known offline as a bait piece, and historically is closer to a sales brochure in its presentation.
Online - to give the concept more credibility - the term white paper has been adopted. The white papers are more formal, often resembling an academic paper which presents the results of research or case study the baiting company has undertaken. Although its use is limited in a business context, the practice is very popular in both technical and marketing aspects of digital marketing. Its popularity has led to the concept of white paper marketing, which might be considered to be an aspect of content marketing.

White paper marketing     see white paper.

White space     A term commonly used by proponents of website usability, this refers to a web page that has limited content presented on a white [or near-white] background. The idea is that text is easier to read if it is surrounded by plenty of white space. The notion comes from the print media [consider the page you are reading now] and is practiced by many of the web's most visited sites - Google and eBay, for example.

White van websites     Also known in the US as panel van websites, these are commercial sites of limited content and functionality, but which meet the objectives of the business they represent - lead generation, for example. The term comes from the ubiquitous vans that are a staple of businesses around the world that need to transport goods from A to B with the least fuss and best return on investment. Like their namesake websites, white vans are not a glamorous aspect of business, but they get the job done - hence the analogy. The opposite of such a site would be an eye candy website that looks good but does not meet any business objectives. See also brochureware.

WHOIS     A query and response database used for determining the owner of a US registered domain name [.com, for example] or IP address. Whilst the concept was developed with the best of altruistic intentions [such as allowing system administrators to look up and contact other domain name administrators in order to address problems], the system can have nefarious uses - like building email lists for SPAM campaigns. Oline marketers might use a WHOIS database for a number of legitimate reasons, such as; [a] checking who owns a domain that is inactive, perhaps with a view to purchasing it, or [b] as part of a competitor analyse - the registration of particular names might betray future business plans. Note that there is no WHOIS facility available for .uk and other EU domain names as the information is protected by the Data Protection Act in the UK and similar legislation in other EU countries.

Widget     Once commonly used to describe a generic, non-existent product - often in examples where a specific product might bias the illustration [an economics exam, for example, might ask a student to calculate the unit cost of widgets produced in a factory and their price elasticity in the market]. More recently, however, widget has taken on a more specific role as the description for a number of online applications that have been grouped under the one idiom. It should be noted, however, that true to its previous incarnation as a vague definition of an unknown product, exactly what can be described as a widget is [to date] still in a state of flux. Generally speaking, each widget is made up of an embeddable piece scripting code [JavaScript or flash, for example] that performs a specific - and distinct - dynamic function on a web page. Most commonly this code facilitates the delivery of live content - ads, for example, [AdWords uses them] - from a third party site without the website owner constantly having to update their site. That such applications are also known as modules, snippets, and plug-ins only serves to muddy the widget's definition as each of these alternative terms are all used to describe other things, Furthermore, as technology advances still more applications are likely to be branded as widgets.

Wi-Fi [wireless fidelity]     Although the term can apply to physical connections, it is most commonly used to indicate that a product can connect to another using radio frequency - a PC and printer, for example. Any products tested and approved as Wi-Fi Certified are inter-operable with each other, even if they are from different manufacturers. In a digital marketing context, Wi-Fi is most commonly associated with wireless connection to the Internet, usually in private homes or large buildings - university libraries, for example. However, Wi-Fi access can be over a wider area, a public outdoor space, for example [so-called hot spots].

Wiki     A website that is not only a collaboration of numerous authors, but is permanently a work in progress. Wikis allow anyone to edit, delete or modify their content. The most famous website of this kind perpetrates the term in its domain name -, the online encyclopaedia. The origin of the term is the Hawaiian language, wiki meaning quick. The concept's founder Ward Cunningham [] originally used the term WikiWikiWeb - meaning double quick web, but the abbreviated version proved more popular.

Window ad     Another name for a pop up ad.

WIPO    see World Intellectual Property Organization.

Wireframe     A term used in website development to describe the planned hierarchical structure of the functional elements of a proposed website - that is, without the graphics. Wireframes are used not only as a development aid, but also to explain to other stakeholders how [eventual] users will interact with the site.

Within-page link     Also known as a jump link, this is a link that when clicked on, takes the user to a different location in the open document - online this normally means further down the same web page. They are frequently used in FAQ-type pages where questions can be listed at the top of the page, and clicking on the question takes the user to the answer - rather than scrolling down the page for all questions and answers. Within page links are considered to have poor usability traits because they contravene the user's mental model for links are expected to deliver.

WOMMA     The Word of Mouth Marketing Association []. Of particular value to the online trader is WOMMA's best practice guidelines that address critical issues of word-of-mouth transparency and ethics.

Word farms     A term used to describe sites with content that is optimized purely to drive ad traffic rather than having any value of its own. The objective is to appear in search engine listings and [hopefully] profit from ads featured on them. 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 domain name parking [2] and spam [2] websites.

World Intellectual Property Organization [WIPO]     The purpose of WIPO is to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world through cooperation between countries. Although it does have influence over issues of online intellectual property, it is most commonly recognized in the field of digital marketing through its involvement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers [ICANN] in the arbitration system for resolving disputes over domain names.

World Wide Web [WWW]     Frequently, and incorrectly, used to describe the Internet, the world wide web - or simply the web - has two interpretations. They are; [a] the whole constellation of resources that can be accessed using tools such as Gopher, FTP, HTTP, telnet and USENET, and [b] the universe of hypertext servers which are the servers that allow text, graphics, sound files and so on to be delivered to browsers. Whilst the web as we know it now came into being in the mid 1990s, the concept can be traced as far back as 1980, when Tim Berners-Lee built what he called ENQUIRE. Although different from the web used today, ENQUIRE was made up of many of the same key ideas. At the end of the decade, Berners-Lee [with Robert Cailliau] published his formal proposal for the world wide web. August 1991 saw the debut of the web as a publicly available service on the Internet. In April 1993, CERN [for whom Berners-Lee worked] announced that the world wide web would be free to anyone, with no fees due. Critical mass was achieved with the 1993 release of Mosaic, a web-based browser, which added graphics to the web - prior to this it had been text only. It is generally accepted that the launch of Mosaic signified the birth of the web as it is now recognized - though the actual birthday is debated, see Mosaic.

World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]     According to the W3C's website front page, this organization; 'Develops interoperable technologies [specifications, guidelines, software, and tools] to lead the Web to its full potential. W3C is a forum for information, commerce, communication, and collective understanding'. Whilst it does serve an important purpose, it should be noted that acceptance of any and all of W3C's input is voluntary - that is, it offers guidelines, not rules.

Worm     A type of virus that replicates itself across a computer network, usually performing malicious actions, such as using up the computer's resources and so shutting the system down.

WPA [WiFi Protected Access]     Wireless access to the Internet that is encrypted for security.

Wugging     A term that is an abbreviation of web-use-giving. The concept is that a charitable concern raises money by having an element of the Internet sponsor the cause. For example, a search engine might make a donation every time a search is conducted or an online store gives cash when a product is purchased. The actual user pays nothing, the contribution being made by the organization.

WWW     see world wide web.

WWW Wanderer     The first web-based search engine. Developed by researcher Matthew Gray at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wanderer collected websites into its index and provided a search facility for users to search that index. See also Archie and SMART.

WYSIWYG [What You See Is What You Get]     The description given to design or editing tools that show the exact appearance of the desired output while the user is creating a document. It is commonly used for word processors, but has other applications, notably web page authoring. The phrase originated during the late 1970s when the first WYSIWYG editor - Bravo - was created. It is said that the team of researchers who developed the Bravo software adopted the term from a catchphrase used by a character in a TV comedy popular at the time.

XML [Extensible Markup Language]     A specification enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications. In lay person's terms, XML allows computers to communicate with each other and so has played a significant role in the ascent of digital marketing.

Yahoo! Bing Network     An ad network developed by Microsoft which combined the IT giant's MSN adCenter and the newly aquired Yahoo! search marketing.

Yahoo! search marketing     . See Yahoo! Bing Network.

You are your website     Phrase often used to convince business owners/managers that skimping on website development is a false economy. The notion is that in the online environment, the website is the only thing that a customer - or potential customer - knows about the organization. The perception being that bad web presence = bad organization. See also online credibility.

Zip File     A file that has been compressed to preserve memory and facilitate easier transfer, it is particularly useful for email attachments where the email system has limits to its capacity.

Zone batching     The practice of sending out emails in batches to suit the time zones of the recipients. For example, a company might have research that suggests that users tend to read their personal email around lunchtime, and so want emails to arrive between 9am and noon. If those users are in different geographic locations and in different time zones, the emails need to be dispatched at staggered times so that they are delivered during the required period in the user's local time

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