The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Common Advertising Terms

As digital media proliferates, so too does the vocabulary of the advertising industry. If you sometimes come across terms that sound unfamiliar or confusing, you’ll find the glossary below a helpful resource.

A/B testing: two versions of an ad are compared to determine which creates a stronger response.

Account-based advertising: ​serving advertising only to specified titles at targeted accounts.

Ad exchange: ​a marketplace that allows internet publishers and advertisers to buy and sell advertising inventory in real-time auctions.

Ad network: ​a vendor that acts as a single point of contact between publishers and advertisers to negotiate supply and demand.

Ad serving: the delivery of an ad from a web server to a user’s device.

Ad targeting: ​delivering ads to a select audience based on geography, demographics, web browsing behavior, past purchases and other variables.

Ad unit: a format, specification or type of ad.

Affiliate marketing: an agreement between a publisher and an advertiser where the publisher receives compensation based on clicks delivered or sales made.

Analytics: statistics used to target audiences, understand consumer behavior, improve user experience and optimize ad campaigns.

Attribution: the process of identifying which touch is responsible for a conversion.

Banner: ​a common form of digital advertising where static graphics, videos or interactive media are displayed.

Behavioral targeting: ​​a technique that utilizes a web user’s previous web browsing behavior to customize the types of ads they receive.

Brand lift: ​the measured increase in effectiveness between respondents who did not view the ad versus those who did.

Channel: an outlet to reach audiences, such as display advertising, native advertising, social media advertising, and in-app advertising.

Click-through rate (CTR): the percentage of clicks from total impressions.

Contextual targeting: serving ads based on keywords, category or type of content being displayed.

Conversion: a specific action an advertiser wants someone to take.

Conversion rate: a measure representing the percentage of users who completed the conversion action over the total number of users who clicked on the ad.

Conversion tracking: the process of examining advertising results to glean insights regarding actions, pageviews, video views and conversions.

Cost per acquisition (CPA): the cost of acquiring one customer calculated by dividing the total amount spent on an ad campaign by the number of customers acquired.

Cost per click (CPC): the average amount an advertiser pays for each click.

Cost per engagement (CPE): the payment model where advertisers pay only when users actively engage with ads.

Cost per lead (CPL): the average amount an advertiser pays that results in a lead conversion.

Cost per thousand (CPM): The amount charged to serve 1,000 ad impressions.

Cross-device targeting: serving the same buyer targeted ads across multiple devices.

Data management platform (DMP): A data warehouse used to house and manage cookie IDs and generate audience segments used to target specific users with online ads.

Deal ID: a unique piece of code assigned to an automated ad buy to match individual buyers and sellers, based on a variety of criteria.

Demand-side platform (DSP): a software-based system that allows advertisers to bid on and purchase inventory from multiple ad exchanges through one single interface.

Discovery platform: a technology platform and services that online publishers and advertisers use to serve recommend content on the open web.

Email advertising: ads and links that appear within emails and e-newsletters

Expandable banner: banners that expand when a user hovers over them.

Fill rate: the ratio of ad requests successfully filled in relation to the total number of ad requests made.

Frequency: The number of times an ad is served to the same consumer-via the same browser-during a specific time period.

Geotargeting: showing ads based on the location of a device.

Impressions: the number of times an ad is served.

In-stream video ads: video ads played before, during or after the publisher’s video content.

Interstitial ads: ads, usually full-screen, that are served when a website visitor navigates from one page to another.

Landing page: the page users are directed to after clicking on an ad.

Lookalike audience: people who are similar to your existing customers.

Native advertising: a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed.

Open exchange: a digital advertising marketplace for aggregated inventory from multiple partners where buyers bid manually or programmatically to purchase impressions.

Paid search: advertising in the sponsored listings of a search engine or a partner site by paying each time your ad is clicked.

Pay per click (PPC): a pricing model where advertisers pay based on the number of clicks received from a campaign.

Performance marketing: online marketing and advertising programs in which advertisers and marketing companies are paid when a specific action is completed.

Pixel: a piece of code placed on a web page to track the end-user’s behavior and identification on a website.

Private exchange: allows a publisher (or group of publishers) to sell into real-time bidding and/or agency trading desk systems by invitation only.

Programmatic buying: an automated method of buying media based on a predefined set of parameters by ad buyer.

Reach: The total number of people who see your ad.

Real-time bidding: the buying and selling of online ad impressions through real-time auctions.

Retargeting: the process of serving ads to people who have previously visited your website (also called re-marketing).

Rich media: technologies such as streaming video, dynamic HTML5, and animated GIFs.

Run-of-network (RON): the scheduling of Internet advertising whereby an ad network positions ads across the sites it represents at its own discretion.

Run-of-site (ROS): ​the scheduling of Internet advertising whereby ads run across an entire site, often at a lower cost to the advertiser.

Search engine marketing (SEM): refers to both paid search engine advertising as well as SEO, though most use SEM to describe paid search (or PPC).

Social advertising: paid ads on social networking platforms.

Sponsored content: material in an online publication, which resembles the publication’s editorial content but is paid for by an advertiser and labeled as such.

Supply-side platform (SSP): a software-based system used by digital publishers to manage the sale and fulfillment of their advertising supply.

Viewability: a metric that addresses an ad’s opportunity to be seen by a viewer

Yield management: The process of influencing advertiser and consumer behavior in order to maximize profits through better inventory management.

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