GIF files can also be used for interactive banner adverts. Plug-ins are additional programs, sometimes referred to as ‘helper applications’, and work in association with the web browser to provide features not present in the basic web browser. The best-known plug-ins are probably that for Adobe Acrobat which is used to display documents in .pdf format and the Macromedia Flash and Shockwave products for producing interactive graphics.
Audio and video standards
Traditionally sound and video or ‘rich media’ have been stored as the Microsoft standards .WMA and .AVI. Alternative standards are MP3 and MPEG. These formats are used on some web sites, but they are less appropriate for sites such as that of the BBC since the user would have to wait for the whole clip to download before hearing or viewing it. Streaming media are now used for many multimedia sites since they enable video or audio to start playing within a few seconds – it is not necessary for the whole file to be downloaded before it can be played. Formats for streaming media have been established by Real Networks.
Internet-access software applications
Over its lifetime, many tools have been developed to help find, send and receive information across the Internet. Web browsers used to access the World Wide Web are the latest of these applications. These tools are summarized in Table 1.3. In this section we will briefly discuss the relevance of some of the more commonly used tools to the modern organization. The other tools have either been superseded by the use of the World Wide Web or are of less relevance from a business perspective.
The application of the Internet for marketing in this book concentrates on the use of e-mail and the World Wide Web since these tools are now most commonly used by businesses for digital marketing. Many of the other tools such as IRC and newsgroups, which formerly needed special software to access them, are now available from the WWW.