Sponsored search (also called sponsored links, search ads, or paid search) allows advertisers to be included in the sponsored results of a search for selected keywords. Search ads are often sold via real-time auctions, where advertisers bid on keywords.:118 In addition to setting a maximum price per keyword, bids may include time, language, geographical, and other constraints.:118 Search engines originally sold listings in order of highest bids.:119 Modern search engines rank sponsored listings based on a combination of bid price, expected click-through rate, keyword relevancy and site quality.
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Because so few ordinary users (38% according to Pew Research Center) realized that many of the highest placed "results" on search engine results pages (SERPs) were ads, the search engine optimization industry began to distinguish between ads and natural results. The perspective among general users was that all results were, in fact, "results." So the qualifier "organic" was invented to distinguish non-ad search results from ads.
Digital marketing is also referred to as 'online marketing', 'internet marketing' or 'web marketing'. The term digital marketing has grown in popularity over time. In the USA online marketing is still a popular term. In Italy, digital marketing is referred to as web marketing. Worldwide digital marketing has become the most common term, especially after the year 2013.
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As advertisers collect data across multiple external websites about a user's online activity, they can create a detailed profile of the user's interests to deliver even more targeted advertising. This aggregation of data is called behavioral targeting. Advertisers can also target their audience by using contextual to deliver display ads related to the content of the web page where the ads appear.:118 Retargeting, behavioral targeting, and contextual advertising all are designed to increase an advertiser's return on investment, or ROI, over untargeted ads.