Title:
System and method for conducting an advertising business
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method for conducting an advertising business over the Internet that allows advertisers to create and update graphical ads in an instantaneous and independent manner. The method is user-friendly and straightforward. The method comprises: providing at least one business advertiser with a software program for creating and updating a advertisement, creating an advertisement off-line using the program, submitting the advertisement online to a Web server, updating the advertisement, and submitting the updated advertisement to the Web server. Creation and updating of the ad is performed off-line and independently by the advertiser and using the provided software program.



Inventors:
Aphek, Itamar (Jerusalem, IL, US)
Application Number:
10/117348
Publication Date:
10/09/2003
Filing Date:
04/08/2002
Assignee:
APHEK ITAMAR
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G06Q30/02; H01H29/04; H01H31/20; H01L21/4763; H01L27/146; H01L27/32; (IPC1-7): G06F17/60
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
JASMIN, LYNDA C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAUPTMAN HAM, LLP (2318 Mill Road Suite 1400, Alexandria, VA, 22314, US)
Claims:
1. A method for conducting an advertising business over the Internet that allows advertisers to create and update graphical ads in an instantaneous and independent manner, comprising; (a) providing at least one business advertiser with a software program for creating and updating a advertisement; (b)creating an advertisement off-line using said program, wherein said creating said advertisement is performed by said business advertiser; (c) submitting said advertisement online to a Web server; (d) updating said advertisement, and submitting the updated advertisement to said Web server, wherein said updating is performed off-line and independently by said at least one business advertiser and using said software program; (e) charging said at least one advertiser.

2. A method according to claim 1, wherein the step of creating an advertisement comprises selecting graphical preferences on a graphic design screen and entering details pertaining to said business advertiser on a data screen.

3. A method according to claim 1, wherein said providing at least one business advertiser with a software program is performed by downloading from the Web server.

4. A method according to claim 1, wherein said submitting said advertisement online comprises logging onto the Web server.

5. A method according to claim 4, wherein said submitting further comprises selecting search keywords from the search engine that apply to said at least one advertiser, wherein said selecting is performed on-line.

6. A method according to claim 5, further comprising searching said search engine ad database on the basis of said keywords.

7. A method according to claim 6, further comprising providing for interactivity between one of said business advertisers and a user searching said search engine ad database.

8. A method according to claim 4, wherein said submitting further comprises entering billing information.

9. A method according to claim 4, wherein said submitting further comprises previewing said advertisement.

10. A method according to claim 1, wherein said charging said advertiser is according to a predetermined time period of advertising.

11. A system for conducting an advertising business over the Internet, comprising, (a) a Web server and search engine; (b) an advertiser database associated with said server and search engine, wherein said database is comprised of virtual advertisements created by business advertisers in an off-line setting; (c) a billing system associated with said server and search engine for charging said business advertisers for advertising services; (d) a software program downloadable from said Web server, for allowing business advertisers to create and update said virtual advertisements in an off-line environment, and for subsequently submitting said virtual advertisements on-line to said server, wherein said software program can also be used for conducting searches of said advertiser database.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to the field of advertising. More specifically, the present invention relates to a smart and dynamic system and method for conducting an advertising business over the Internet that allows small businesses and professionals to create and update graphical advertisements in a simple-to-use, straightforward manner. The graphical advertisements are maintained in a database, and can be accessed through a user-friendly search medium by any member of the general public for providing up-to-date, detailed information about said small businesses and professionals.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The Internet, with its multitude of different search engines, is fast becoming the first place that individuals and small companies look to when they need to find a professional who can perform a particular service for them. The Internet is generally easy-to-use, and search engines normally have access to much more information than that which is available in the yellow pages or in the newspaper. Certain drawbacks to Internet search engines, however, include limited search parameters and also out-of-date information. For example, if an individual using a search engine (hereinafter referred to as the “user”) does not enter the appropriate keywords, he might not be provided with the most optimal results. Alternatively, he might be provided with a huge list of results and not be able to efficiently sort through it in order to find what he needs. Or, in some cases, a user might be provided with the name and details of a certain professional, only to find, upon attempting to contact the professional that his business has moved, his phone number has changed, or that he has switched professions.

[0003] For advertisers, it is difficult to update or change an Internet ad, since this requires contacting the server, and performing the changes using the server as an intermediary. Sometimes, the advertiser is required to submit and pay for a completely new ad only for the purposes of updating, for example, his telephone, or address. Also, the server usually allows little room for creativity on the part of the advertiser, and unless the advertiser wants to employ the services of costly Internet graphic designers, his as will appear in design to be relatively similar to that of the next advertiser. Thus, Internet advertising suffers from many drawbacks for the advertiser: the advertiser has to use in an intermediary in order to submit or update the ad. Often, the updating of an ad takes days or even weeks to accomplish, possibly costing the advertiser many clients. Also, the advertiser has little control over what the ad looks like, and is, in most cases, restricted to a textual ad only that provides very limited information about the advertiser.

[0004] The inventor of the present invention has therefore developed a novel system and method for conducting an advertising business over the Internet which functions like an Internet “yellow pages”, but without the drawbacks that are inherent in the traditional hard-copy yellow pages, and without the disadvantages of other Internet search engines. The method and system of the present invention allows for advertisers to create and update graphical ads in an instant and independent manner. In the context of the present invention, the term “instant” or “instantaneous” is meant to imply that the advertiser can create and update ads without any delays, and whenever he desires. As soon as an ad is created or updated by the advertiser, and submitted to the Web server, it is immediately launched. The term “independent” is meant to imply that no intermediary whatsoever is necessary to update or create an ad. The advertiser can create or update the ad using his own computer, in an off-line setting, without requiring any technical assistance or verbal contact with the Web server. When finished, the ad is directly launched on-line to the Web server. All steps in the launching of an ad, from its graphical creation, the entry of business details, billing, and submission, are conducted without any intermediary. The ad is a graphical ad designed by the advertiser himself (though without requiring any technical knowledge). Thus, the present invention provides a system and a method for conducting an advertising business over the Internet that provides both the advertisers and the users with the most efficient, reliable, and easy-to-use advertising possible. Advertisers are allowed to conveniently and regularly update their advertisement and professional details, so as to provide the user with the most up-to-date information possible. Furthermore, advertisers can design their own ad in an off-line environment, using software provided by the Web server. The software allows them to create, update and subsequently submit graphical ads without ever having to talk to another person. The software can also be used for performing searches of advertisers.

[0005] These and other objects and features of the present invention will become more readily apparent and understood from the summary of the invention and the detailed description of the drawings that follow.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0006] In the context of the present invention, the term “search engine(s)” is meant to refer specifically to those search engines that function to provide users with information pertaining to providers of professional or other services. As will be described, the providers advertise to potential clients via the search engine.

[0007] Also in the context of the present invention, the term “(business) advertiser(s)” is meant to refer to small businesses and individual professionals who use the Internet as a means for advertising. In certain cases, it may also refer to larger businesses that could make use of the system or method of the present invention, though it is appreciated that the invention is geared more towards small business concerns.

[0008] The present invention relates to a method for conducting an advertising business over the Internet, that allows advertisers to create and update graphical ads in an instantaneous and independent manner, comprising;

[0009] (a) providing at least one business advertiser with a software program for creating and updating an advertisement (the program is provided by a Web server);

[0010] (b) creating an advertisement off-line using the software program, wherein said creating the advertisement is performed by the business advertiser;

[0011] (c) submitting the advertisement online to the Web server;

[0012] (d) updating the advertisement, and submitting the updated advertisement to the Web server, wherein the updating is performed off-line and independently (without the need for an intermediary) by said at least one business advertiser and using the software program;

[0013] (e) charging the advertiser.

[0014] It is appreciated that the ads created using the method of the present invention are graphical and not textual.

[0015] According to preferred embodiments of the present invention, the step of creating an advertisement comprises selecting graphical preferences on a graphic design screen and entering details pertaining to said business advertiser on a data screen.

[0016] Further according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, the step of providing at least one business advertiser with a computerized program is performed by downloading from the Web server.

[0017] Still further according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, the step of submitting the advertisement online comprises logging onto the Web server.

[0018] Moreover according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, the step of submitting further comprises selecting search keywords from the search engine that apply to the advertiser, wherein said selecting is performed on-line, following logging onto the server.

[0019] Additionally according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, the method further comprises searching the search engine database on the basis of said keywords. Searching may be conducted via the Web server or using the software program.

[0020] Preferably, the method also comprises providing for interactivity between a business advertisers and a user searching the search engine ad database. This interactivity may be provided in one of a variety of ways and serves to provide a means for communication between the advertiser and the potential client. In one preferred embodiment, the user is provided with a space for contacting (by email) the advertiser when said user views the graphical ad. In another preferred embodiment, the weekly calendar of the advertiser is posted as part of the ad. In this manner, the user can know when a particular service is available, and can contact the advertiser (for example, by email) to set a meeting or appointment, should it be desired. In yet other preferred embodiments, the advertiser can send SMS messages to the Web server, which are immediately posted on said advertiser's ad. The message may say, for example, “available now” or, “out on vacation” until a specific date, etc . . . The advertiser may also be provided with means for checking how many users viewed his ad in a recent period of time.

[0021] Further according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, the step of submitting further comprises entering billing information of the advertiser.

[0022] Still further according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, the step of submitting further comprises previewing the advertisement.

[0023] Moreover according to preferred embodiments of the present invention, the step of charging the advertiser is according to a predetermined time period of advertising.

[0024] The preset invention also relates to a system for conducting an advertising business over the Internet, comprising,

[0025] (a) a Web server and search engine;

[0026] (b)an advertiser database associated with the server and search engine, wherein the database is comprised of virtual advertisements created by business advertisers in an off-line setting;

[0027] (c) a billing system associated with the server and search engine for charging said business advertisers for advertising services;

[0028] (d) a software program downloadable from said Web server, for allowing business advertisers to create and update the virtual advertisements in an off-line environment, and for subsequently submitting said virtual advertisements on-line to the server.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0029] The present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0030] FIG. 1 is a flowchart representing main elements in a method for conducting an advertising business using the Internet, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

[0031] FIG. 2 is a generalized diagram showing the main features of a system for conducting an advertising business using the Internet, according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0032] The detailed description provided is intended only to illustrate certain preferred embodiments of the present invention. It is not meant to limit the scope of the invention, as is set out in the claims.

[0033] Referring first to FIG. 1, business advertisers are provided with a software program that is preferably downloaded from a Web server (step 1). Alternatively, the software program may be provided to potential advertisers on a CD or floppy disk. The advertiser uses the software program in order to create his own ad for the server database (step 2). The advertiser is provided with an easy-to-user graphics template screen from which he selects between different ad layouts, different texts, colors, images, backgrounds, etc . . . (step 2a) In effect, the advertiser can be his own publisher using the system of the present invention, and does not need to rely on expensive graphical services in order to create an ad that will catch people's eye. All the tools are provided to him using the software program. He can choose between a variety of different graphical ad templates, and within each template he can determine the exact desired layout and view of the ad. This is in contrast to other Internet advertising services, where the advertiser only submits his data and then the server creates an ad for him. The method of the present invention allows for the advertiser to design, with no technical skill, the way his ad will look.

[0034] Following design of the graphical layout of the ad, the advertiser is provided with a data screen wherein he has to fill in data relating to his business (step 2b). The fields include name, service description, address, contact information, Internet home page (if any), etc . . . The data is automatically inserted into predetermined locations of the ad according to the graphical template that was chosen. Alternatively, the advertiser may first fill out the data sheet, and then proceed to design the ad using the graphics template screen. Once both sections (graphics and data) are completed, the advertiser may continue to make any desired changes (in both of said sections) and he may also save his work on his own computer and submit it to the server only at a later time.

[0035] For performing ad updates, the advertiser simply uses the software program which is already on his computer in order to change or update any aspects of the as which are necessary or desired. He may change information on his data sheet an/or the graphical layout of the ad. Additionally, the data sheet may be provided with a field for inactivating the ad for a predetermined period of time. For example, if the advertiser is not seeking additional business or if a business or individual is going on vacation, the ad can be inactivated accordingly. Furthermore, the data sheet may be provided with a field for showing potential clients (who find the advertiser using the Web server) the weekly schedule and availability of the advertiser (it is appreciated that in this preferred embodiment, the ad needs to be updated on a fairly regular basis). Potential clients, when searching the Web server, may be given a space in order to contact (by email) a specific business advertiser and arrange a meeting. In some preferred embodiments, the advertiser may send an SMS message to the server, saying, for example, “available now” which is posted on the corresponding ad. Thus, when is a user needs an immediate service (ie, an electrician or plumber), he knows if a certain advertiser is currently available and can contact him on the spot. It is appreciated that the ability of the advertiser to change his ad on an as-needed basis using the software provided by the server provides a huge advantage with respect to other business advertising methods. In other methods known, once the advertiser data is submitted to the server, it is usually difficult and inconvenient to change. In the method of the present invention, the ad details (and graphical layout) are not etched in virtual stone, but may be changes as little or as much as is desired by the advertiser. Furthermore, the use of additional services described above ensures the advertiser that all potential clients receive accurate information and can easily contact him when necessary.

[0036] When the advertiser is ready to submit a new ad, he goes on-line to the Web server and follows the instructions for new advertisers. Preferably, this includes selecting an ID and a password. In the future, when the ad is to be updated, the advertiser simply logs onto the server by entering his ID and password (step 3). For new advertisers, an ad keywords screen must also be filled out, and billing information must be provided in the form of credit card information (steps 4 and 5). In the ad keywords screen, the advertiser is provided with a plurality of categories (ie, profession, subprofession, location, service language(s), service hours, service price range). In each category, the advertiser selects corresponding options from the list provided by the server. For example, in the service language list, the advertiser selects one or more languages in which service is provided. It is appreciated that the server keywords are used to enable users of the Web server to achieve the best results possible. For example, if a user is searching for an attorney, after obtaining an initial results list relating to attorneys of the type he is looking for, he can then reduce the list by submitting for search, the location desired, the price range he is willing to pay, etc . . . Alternatively, all of this information may be provided in the beginning of the search. Thus, the user is provided with both helpful and accurate, up-to-date results whenever a search is conducted. This takes away the frustration usually involved in searching for services on the Internet.

[0037] Payment terms may vary according to different preferred embodiments of the present invention. In one preferred embodiment, the advertiser pays a certain basic fee for a predetermined advertising period (for example, one month). In that time period, the advertiser may be allowed to update his ad an unlimited or limited (for example, four) number of times. In other preferred embodiments, the advertiser may pay an initial fee and may pay an additional fee each time the ad is changed. Preferably, the software program is provided free-of-charge from the Web server. It is appreciated that using the software provided by the server, the ad can be updated in a completely automatic manner, without having to engage in verbal or email contact with the server. Additional fees may be charged for the SMS of weekly schedule service described above.

[0038] After a new advertiser receives credit card approval, the ad is submitted (step 6) and is made available to users when searching the database. If the advertiser is not new, steps 4 and 5 can be skipped and the ad can be automatically updated following logging onto the server.

[0039] The downloaded program may also be used for conducting searches of the ad database (step 2c).

[0040] Referring to FIG. 2, the system of the present invention preferably includes a Web server (10), which is associated with an ad database (12), a search engine (13) for searching said ad database (12) and a billing system (14) for billing advertisers. All advertisers (for example, small business 16a, 16b, 16c) using the Web server (10) receive an ad software program (15), preferably downloaded from server (10), for creating and updating their personalized ad that a user (11a, 11b, 1c) sees when conducting a search that produces the corresponding advertiser as a result (alternatively, said ad may be viewed after the user “clicks” onto the advertiser name from search results list). The database (12) may also be searched using the ad software (15), as in the case of user (1c).