Danny Sullivan, one of the first search marketing experts, coined the term “reverse advertising” to describe the promotional process using Web search.
First consider advertising that’s not reversed, and let’s use print advertising as an example. You pay to put together copy and graphics, and then you pay for ink and paper and the labor to put the ink onto the paper–usually a lot of copies, so a lot of ink and paper. Then you pay a lot to distribute many, many copies of the paper carrying your ink, and you hope that somehow, some way, it gets seen by someone who is interested in what you’re offering.
Or consider broadcast advertising, where you pay to interrupt thousands of people who are listening to or watching a program. You hope that one of these people you’ve annoyed is interested in what you have to offer, actually pays attention to your ad, and even acts on it, even though it disappears quickly.
In both cases, with “forward advertising” you pay a lot to put your offer in front of a lot of people in hopes that you reach someone who is interested.
Now consider promoting your offerings on the Web using search marketing. In this case, the prospect has already indicated an interest in what you offer by entering a query. In response to this query, either because you’ve paid or not, the search engine presents a summary of your offer. Then the prospect takes a second action and clicks on your listing!
Now the prospect has come to your Web site, after having already–twice–indicated interest in your offer. Here you’re not making many copies of a description of your offer or broadcasting to thousands of people in hopes of finding someone who’s interested–instead, they’ve indicated an interest–twice!!–and come to you.