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English Lesson 11: Correct Use of Ad and Add

May 24th, 2008

ad-add-english-usage.jpgOne issue that few grammar guides seem to cover is the apparent confusion between the words ad and add. Although their meanings are quite different, whenever I see an instance of incorrect usage, it is sometimes difficult to tell whether the writer is simply making a typographical error or truly does not know which word to use. In either case, this is an important issue to clarify for Internet marketers because these two words are often used in sales copy, and mistakes made here can turn off potential buyers and lead to lower conversion rates.

First of all, the word ad is a common abbreviation for the word “advertisement”. Ads are the basic vehicle that marketers use to generate leads, sales, and revenue. They are also used to increase public awareness of a brand and improve overall name recognition. Some examples of ads in the offline world include:

  1. classified print ads
  2. newspaper ads
  3. billboard ads
  4. leaflet ads (also called “flyers”)
  5. radio ads
  6. television ads (often referred to as “commercials”)
  7. aerial ads such as flying banners or blimps

In the field of Internet marketing, we usually do most of our advertising online in order to reach people that already have computers and know how to perform the basic functions necessary to purchase our products or sign up for our services. Some examples of online advertising include:

  1. text link ads
  2. banner ads
  3. contextual ads (advertising that is placed within the body text of web pages)
  4. email ads (may include paid-to-read or opt-in lists)
  5. pay-per-click (PPC) ads
  6. interstitial ads (advertising that is displayed in between content pages)
  7. pop-up, pop-under, fly-in, glide-in, drop-in ads (generally considered annoying)
  8. splash page ads (often used in traffic exchanges)
  9. widget ads (such as Entrecard, BlogCatalog, or Bumpzee)
  10. long copy ads (also called “pitch pages”)
  11. audio ads (may be annoying if played automatically)
  12. video ads

Meanwhile, the word add means to combine, increase, or extend something. It does NOT refer to advertising. For example, we can add two numbers together, add to our collection of referrals, or download a Firefox add-on (that is, an extension), but we cannot run an “add” in the newspaper.

Here are some examples of correct and incorrect usage:

Incorrect: Friends should one keep your add here text on adbrite adds when you opt for there network ads? — user “icare” on Digital Point forums

Correct: Friends, should one keep the “Your Ad Here” text on AdBrite ads when you opt for their network ads?

Incorrect: I started with $50.00 three weeks ago and my add has not run at all. — user “dansdesals” in AdWords Help discussion

Correct: I started with $50.00 three weeks ago and my ad has not run at all.

Incorrect: thanx for ad me to fav and to friends! — user “Druyi” at DeviantArt.com blog

Correct: Thank you for adding me to your Favorites and Friends lists.

Incorrect: Humans have lived on earth about 4000 years so if you ad them together 11000 years. — user “twaddell21″, a Jehovah’s Witness creationist displaying some massive ignorance at Yahoo answers

Correct: Humans have lived on the Earth for about 4000 years, so if you add them together it is 11000 years.

For next week, I will probably cover lose vs. loose, as I have noticed that mistakes involving these words often slip past spell checker software. Other candidates include site vs. sight vs. site, past vs. passed, and higher vs. hire.

Some people have suggested that I deal with errors involving past and past participle tenses, such as using “have went” (incorrect) instead of “have gone” (correct). Others want me to decry the use of non-words such as “irregardless” and “anyways” in order to prevent the bastardization of the English language. Eventually I want to cover all of these issues, so if your favorite pet peeve has not been addressed yet, you can cast your vote for it in the comment section.


2 Responses to “English Lesson 11: Correct Use of Ad and Add”

  1. comment number 1 by: jtfmulder

    I am often shocked at the lack of proper spelling and grammar online. I often wonder if the schools don’t emphasize spelling and grammar today as much as they did when I was growing up.

    As far as “ad VS. add” being misued, I don’t see it that often.
    I’ve noticed that English speakers from European countries call commercials “adverts”, but Americans do not.

  2. comment number 2 by: jeflin

    Great that you point out this mistake. There are many more of course. After all, people can be bloggers without passing their spelling test, you just need to write well.

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