The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Common Advertising Terms

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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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