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In early days of the Internet, online advertising was mostly prohibited.
For example, two of the predecessor networks to the Internet, ARPANET and NSFNet, had "acceptable use policies" that banned network "use for commercial activities by for-profit institutions".
The first widely publicized example of online advertising was conducted via electronic mail.
It includes email marketing, search engine marketing (SEM), social media marketing, many types of display advertising (including web banner advertising), and mobile advertising.
Like other advertising media, online advertising frequently involves both a publisher, who integrates advertisements into its online content, and an advertiser, who provides the advertisements to be displayed on the publisher's content.
Other potential participants include advertising agencies who help generate and place the ad copy, an ad server which technologically delivers the ad and tracks statistics, and advertising affiliates who do independent promotional work for the advertiser.
In 2011, Internet advertising revenues in the United States surpassed those of cable television and nearly exceeded those of broadcast television.
Many common online advertising practices are controversial and increasingly subject to regulation.