Online Advertising digital marketing terms

Acquisition: A sign up, purchase made, or any other desired action performed by a user in response to an ad. Also called a conversion or action.

Ad Agency: A company that provides services as planning, executing and tracking of advertisement campaigns on behalf of a client.

Ad Call: A user’s browser request an ad exchange or ad server to send an ad. It includes information from browser cookies and ad tag information (publisher ID, size, location, referring URL, and other).

Ad Exchange: A system through which advertisers, publishers, and networks meet and do business on a unified platform, which facilitate the buying and selling of online media advertising inventory.

Agency: See Ad Agency.

Ad Network: A company that serves as a mediator between a group of publishers and a group of advertisers. Traditionally, networks bring together publishers and advertisers and handle remnant inventory, but can have various business models and clients.

Ad Server: One or group of computers responsible for making decisions about what ads will serve and the actual serving of creatives on websites. Besides, ad server can track impressions, clicks, conversions on ads and other data. Major publishers, networks and advertisers tend to have their own ad servers.

Ad Tag: An HTML code on a webpage that will contact an ad server and request an ad. The tag informs the browser to open a window (for example, 300×250 pixels), and in that window place the content is returned from some location.

Advertiser: An entity that shows its ads on publisher websites in order to improve brand awareness, encourage the user to make a purchase, or other purposes.

API: Application Programming Interface is a way to interact with a piece of software. For instance, ad exchange platforms use APIs to interact with their system to allow bidders and the available inventories to communicate with each other.

Attribution: The way conversion addressed to an advertisement. There are a variety of attribution models; for example, “last seen” gives credit to the most recently viewed ad by a user.

Available Impressions: Impressions that are available to the market, that includes only “non exclusive” inventory.

Banner Ad: A basic image or flash display creative.

Behavioral Data: Information (the kinds of visited sites, the used search terms, etc.) that can be used to serve specific ads to users. For instance, someone who looks a lot at vehicles can be served an ad for a car brand, when they are on a cooking site.

Bidder: An optimization logic that uses proprietary code to communicate with the available inventory and determine what bid to submit in a real-time ad auction. It refers to technology rather than the entity that buys ads.

Bidding Strategy: The way one calculates a bid in an ad auction. It can mean bidding a flat CPM or bidding a variable price based on past click-through or conversion rates.

Bid Request: Request from the available inventory to a Bidder for a bid. It includes data points about the user and the impression being sold.

Blacklist: A list of URLs that are absolutely prohibited as ad inventory on a platform for quality control reasons.

Booked Revenue: The amount an advertiser pays to an ad network or platform for media.

Brand: A company’s product line, its image and reputation.

Campaign: In online advertising, a campaign is a set of creatives with a common message served to users. Most campaigns also include criteria such as a specific start and end date, daily or overall budgets, frequency restrictions, and targeting based on user or inventory data.

CDN: Content Delivery Network delivers static content (creative image or flash files). Usually a CDN provider has servers across the globe configured to deliver content as quickly as possible, therefore, it is typical for an ad server to use one.

Conversion Attribution: See Attribution.

Click Log: Server-side log of predefined information gathered when a user clicks on an ad that has been recorded on a platform. See also Conversion Log.

Click-through Rate (CTR): The number of clicks divided by total impressions served for a particular creative or campaign.

Click URL: If a publisher wants to track clicks because being paid on a CPC basis, they can provide click-tracking URL where a platform can ping them on every click.

Contextual Data: Information used for ad targeting refers to the contents of a particular webpage, not a website as a whole. For instance, if there is an article about computers, a technology company may wish to display on that page.

Conversion: A sign up, purchase made, or any other desired action performed by a user in response to an ad. Also called an acquisition or action.

Conversion Funnel: The path a consumer takes from seeing an ad or otherwise hearing about a brand or concept (the broad end of the funnel) to taking a desired action such as making a purchase (the narrow end of the funnel). In short, many users see an ad, fewer – click, fewer – visit a site, fewer – purchase. Many funnel stages may be used for measuring the effectiveness of advertising.

Conversion Pixel: A pixel (placed by advertisers on a landing page, registration page, checkout page, or other) that fires when a user converts, e.g. clicks on an ad, registers, makes a purchase, etc.

Cookie: Information sent by a server to a browser (the cookie file) and then sent back unchanged each time it accesses that server. HTTP cookies are used for authenticating, session tracking, and storing data about users (Non-Personally identifiable information), such as site preferences or buying habits. Advertisers use cookies to track the number and frequency of advertisements that have been shown. See also First-party Cookies and Third-party cookies.

CPA: Cost per action/acquisition (conversion) is a payment model in which advertisers pay for each action completed, such as a sale or registration, as a result of a visitor clicking on their advertisement.

CPC: Cost per click is a payment model in which advertisers pay for clicks on their advertisement.

CPL: Cost per lead is a payment model in which advertisers pay for leads or customer inquiry that resulted from a visitor who clicked on a their advertisement. Also known as cost per inquiry (CPI).

CPM: Cost per thousand (“mille”) is a standard basic pricing model in which advertisers pay for 1000 impressions of their ads served. See also CPC and CPA.

Creative: The actual graphical advertisement, which most commonly is in GIF, JPEG, JavaScript, HTML, or Flash format.

Creative Tag: Similar to an ad tag, this is a snippet of code that gives the location of the creative, which is usually a content delivery network (CDN) or an ad server.

CTR: See Click-Through Rate.

Daisy Chain: Daisy chaining is the linking of several ad tags, usually from several different exchanges, ad servers, or ad networks. Sometimes no creative can be found to fill the ad slot on a webpage, thus a second tag is passed back and the webpage looks for a creative from a second system.

Data: Various information about users that makes them more valuable to advertisers, e.g. age, gender, location, intent to purchase, demographics, psychographics, wealth, past purchases, and other.

Data Management Platform: Generally, DMP refers to a centralized system for gathering first-party data, integrating with third-party data, and applying it to one’s advertising strategy. It may estimate the reach for user segments, measure the lift from using data, acts as a financial clearinghouse between data buyers and sellers, and assists publishers in monetizing data. DMPs most commonly work with User Data but may also work with Contextual Data, or other types of data.

Data Providers: Businesses that provide data about users to advertisers for better audience targeting.

Decisioning: The process by which an ad server, ad platform, or exchange chooses who to serve an ad to. It can be based on an auction, prioritizing certain advertisers based on relationships and prior agreements, or some other method.

Deduplication: The process of removing duplicate entries or events in a data set, which is often a step in quality programmatic buying, where it is important on getting accurate and useful data sets.

Default Creative: A literal creative or a redirect in a form of a third-party tag to a third-party ad server. Also called a fallback, reserve or backup ad, which is used in case a standard creative cannot be served.

Default Tag: It may be served to trigger a second round of decisioning (usually, but not always, in another ad serving system) in case no impression can be found for an ad opportunity.

Demand: Entities wishing to buy ad space and display creatives make advertising demand.

Demand Side Platform: DSP is a unified company that allows advertisers to buy digital media across several different ad networks or exchanges through one interface.

Direct Response: DR is a quantifiable action in regard to a displayed creative, e.g. clicking on an ad, making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, etc.

Display Advertising: Online advertising based on visual ads (banners) that come in standardized sizes, and can include text, logos, pictures, and rich media.

Direct Media Buy: Deals between an advertiser and publisher to deliver a certain amount of specific inventory for preset cost.

DMA: Designated Market Area (also called demographic metropolitan area) is a geographic area defined as a group of countries (regions) making a cohesive market, where the population can receive the same media offerings.

DMP: See Data Management Platform.

DR: See Direct Response.

DSP: See Demand Side Platform.

Dynamic Creative: Ads that can refer to having few different creatives and choosing most appropriate one for the user through some automated means such as audience segmentations, or creating new creatives on the fly based on products were browsed in the past, or other components. They might also be served based on frequency and recency, or other non-user based criteria.

Dynamic Pricing: The purchase price for an ad impression that is determined through a real-time auction rather than a predetermined rate.

eCPM: Effective Cost Per Thousand is a translation of CPMs, CPCs, CPAs, and any other pricing models so they can be compared to each other.

Engagement Metrics: Ad effectiveness measurement of user interaction with an ad. There is a variety of ways to measure impact ad ads via “customer engagement”. Some of them include information, whether a user watched entire video ad, if a user hovered a creative with a mouse and the popular click.

Exchange: See Ad Exchange.

Exclusive Inventory: Inventory associated with a particular bidder, who can set an exclusive parameter to be able to see or bid on it alone.

First-party Cookies: Cookies that use the website domain, which a user is currently on. For example, if you visit and the domain of the cookie is, then this is a first-party cookie. First-party cookies are usually used for login, user experience, and remarketing purposes. See also Third-party Cookies.

First Touch: An attribution model in which credit is given to the first impression a user saw. This is less common than Last Seen but can be used to encourage media traffickers to broaden reach.

Flight: The campaign lifetime – from start to end date. A campaign may also have no flight dates and continue indefinitely.

Frequency: How often an ad is shown in a certain period, such as 24 hours, week or month. Frequency is often used to avoid overexposure. See also Recency.

Frequency capping: Limiting of ad serving to a user. In example, no more than 5 times per day. See also Recency Capping.

Funnel: See Conversion Funnel.

Guaranteed inventory: Impressions sold ahead of time rather than in a real-time auction. See also Premium Inventory.

iframe: An HTML iframe tag that tells the browser to open a mini browser window of a specified size inside the current window. This way the ad content cannot expand beyond the size specified.

Impression: The act of displaying of a creative on a webpage.

Impressions Kept: No auction transaction occurred on these impressions.

Impressions Sold: Impressions successfully auctioned off and served to the winning bidder.

Impressions Bought: Impressions successfully bought by a platform member in an auction.

Impressions Seen: The ad calls that pass through a platform, but that aren’t necessarily decisioned by the platform.

In-banner Video: Creatives that are played in standard banner placements rather than in video players. Any banner placement may accommodate an in-banner video creative, if allowed by the publisher. Audio is usually user initiated.

In-stream video: Advertisers can use In-Stream Video to place their video ads in video content that can be streamed online. In-stream video creatives use VAST XML to make sure proper rendering in players.

Insertion Order (Purchase order): Generally, an insertion order can be described as an agreement between advertiser and another company (agency, publisher, ad network, etc.) displays some kind of advertising.

IAB: Stands for Interactive Advertising Bureau. It is an advertising business organization that develops industry standards, conducts research, and provides legal support for the online advertising industry. Read more at the IAB’s website.

Inventory: Ad inventory refer to the web spaces on publishers’ webpages where ads are served.

Landing Page (Destination URL): The webpage that users are directed after clicking on an ad or search engine optimized search result.

Last Click: A type of attribution model that gives credit the last impression that was clicked on by the user.

Last Seen: A type of attribution model that gives credit the last impression that was seen by the user.

Line Item: Line items represent the relationship between ad resources and advertiser. Line items include campaigns or ad groups.

Longtail: Ad inventory with relatively low number of users (e.g. most blogs) or less desirable users (very young, minimal disposable income, etc.). When advertisers have very specific target requirements, long tail inventories could be useful. However, longtail can be difficult for publishers to make profit.

Lookback Window: A time period taken into account when collecting data for conversions, bid optimization model, and so on.

Managed Publisher: Refers to a publisher that is managed by an ad network, SSP, or other supply-side aggregator.

Marketer: In general, marketers are advertisers that manage at least some of their own digital advertising.

Media Plan: An overview of all the direct and programmatic media buys.

NAI: Network Advertising Initiative is an online advertising industry association focused on consumer education about online behavioral advertising (OBA).

Network: An ad network or platform, that buys and sells on behalf of advertisers and publishers. The main feature of an ad network is aggregation of ad space supply from publishers and matching it with advertiser demand.

Notify URL: In the RTB market, each bidder is notified of an auction’s result whether or not they were the winner. This notification is sent to a bidder-specified “notify URL” when the auction has completed and the impression has been served.

OBA: Stands for Online Behavioral Advertising, which shows relevant ads based on users’ online activities and browsing behaviors.

Optimization: In general, optimization means finding right inventory to provide positive ROI and meet requirements for certain metrics (CTR, engagement rate, impressions, etc.) of the campaigns.

PHP Session ID: A PHP session can store user information on a server for later use. Since session information is short-lived and will be deleted after the user has left a website, sessions work by creating a unique ID (UID) for each visitor and storing variables based on this UID. The UID is either stored in a cookie or is propagated in the URL.

Piggyback: This refers to piggybacked pixel. When pixel A has pixel B piggybacked on to it, then the firing of pixel A causes the firing of pixel B. This second firing can either be via a redirect or a server-side firing. This is may be used for tracking conversions in a secondary system and so on.

PII: Stands for Personally Identifiable Information, which can be tied to an actual named person, rather than an anonymous user ID, such as name, social security number, etc.

Pixel: A pixel is a way to track user data. It is a snippet of code that calls for a 1X1 transparent pixel to be delivered to a webpage by a third party server. Whenever the pixel loads, the third party server can record information such as the IP address of the user’s computer, URL of the page, and time the page was viewed.

Placement: A group of ad units where advertisers choose to place their ads, which could refer to a single ad unit or the entire website.

Pop Ad: An ad that displays in a secondary browser window in front of Pop Up or behind Pop Under the initial browser window.

Premium Inventory: The term “Premium” have different meanings, but it most commonly refers to those inventories have elevated level of desirability (home page, above-the-fold, high-impact, rich media, etc.). Usually premium inventories are sold through direct channels or private auctions.

Price Bucket: Refer to the price range is assigned to inventory, which is usually around the average CPM.

Programmatic Buying: Programmatic buying refers to any digital advertising spots that are purchased using computer automation. For example, through automated RTB exchanges or other automated systems without going through sales team from the publisher side.

Publisher: Publisher can refer to a general site publisher or a network-managed entity that offers ad inventory.

Query String: A method to pass data to a web application as part of a URL. The query string comes after a “?” in the

URL: Stands for Uniform Resource Locator and is the generic term for all types of names and addresses that refer to objects on the World Wide Web. For example

Reach: Refers to the number of unique users who can be reached by online advertising. Usually adding new inventory or release certain targeting criteria could broaden the reach.

Real-Time Advertising (Auction): Process of ad inventory traded programmatically through an auction when a user loads the publisher’s site where ad tags are placed.. The advertiser gives the highest bid would win the auction these bids that all the advertisers give are submitted at the time of the auction.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB): In short, Real-Time Bidding refers to bidding on inventory in real time, which is based on the past performance of inventory, audience, creative and other parameters.

Recency Capping: A way to control the time period between two ads shown to a user. For instance, show an ad only once every half an hour.

Remarketing (Retargeting): A way to market those who have performed an action in the past and more likely to make the same or similar action again and generate sales. Before launching remarketing campaign, a pixel has to be implemented to store an audience in the cookie list.

Remarketing Pixel: A pixel that fires, when a user visits the site, or performs some desired action, such as signs-up, buy, click, or otherwise converts.

Remnant Inventory: Ad inventory that is available after premium inventory has been sold in advance by direct salesforce. Remnant inventory is often the target of programmatic buying.

Reporting: In online advertising, reporting usually includes data for both buyers and sellers such as much money spent, impressions, clicks, CTR, conversions, revenue earned and other metrics.

Reserve Price: The minimum price at which a bidder or member will sell an impression.

Responsive Design: Responsive design means that websites can display properly and fit to the proportion and capability of the device a user is using. Along with the increasing popularity of mobile devices, responsive design is getting more common for its seamless user experience across different devices.

Rich Media: In general, rich media refers to creative that has non-standard characteristics such as larger size, out-of-banner behavior, playing video in banner, in-banner metrics collection or other features. Rich media ads usually take up more space and involve more engagement with audiences.

Rising Stars: IAB defined interactive rich media creative types called Raising Stars include Billboard, Filmstrip, Slider, Portrait, Pushdown, Sidekick on desktops and Filmstrip, Pull, Adhesion Banner, Full Page Flex, Slider on mobile devices.

ROI: Return on Investment.

ROE: Run of exchange. All inventory available for purchase on an ad exchange.

RON: Run of network. All inventory managed by a network.

ROS: Run of site. All inventory available on a certain website.

RPM: Revenue per 1000 (“mille”) impressions.

Rotating Creative: When a single ad tag can call one of several different creatives, and each creative can have different weight of possibility for displaying.

Second Price Auction: Second Price Auction means that the bidder who makes the highest bid wins, but pays only an equal or slightly higher price than the second highest bid.

Segment: This refers to members of a target audience identified based on the webpages they visit, the actions they make such as completing a purchase, and data such as gender, wealth, or location, etc.

Semantic Targeting: Figuring out what the content on a webpage is really about and being able to place ads based on that content. Often called Contextual Targeting.

Session Frequency: Session Frequency determines how many ads a user has seen per session. The session of activity begins with a user opening the browser and end with closing it.

Supply: In online advertising, supply means inventory or ad placements on webpages available for ad serving.

Supply Side Platform (SSP): Supply Side Platform helps publishers to access demand from a variety of ad networks, exchanges, and platforms through one interface.

Tag: An HTML code snippet, usually JavaScript or IFRAME, which orders browser to request certain content from an ad server. An Ad tag is usually provided by an ad server or exchange and placed in the webpage by a publisher. See also Ad Tag.

Tag Container: Many advertisers and media buyers use several tags for tracking impressions, clicks, conversions, and other metrics. Therefore, some use tag containers to manage these pixel tags and make it easier to change them via a single source. When a page loads, the tag container shows the code for all tags stored within it.

Targeting: Advertisers or their media buyers can choose to serve ads within special segment as well as when, where, and how frequent to serve ads.

Third-party Cookies: Cookies with a different domain than the website a user is currently on.

Timestamp: A sequence of characters or encoded information identifying the date and time that a certain event occurred.

Trading Desk: In general, trading desk refers to buy-side platforms, most commonly within or working for advertising agencies.

Uniques: The number of unique users being counted to separate out individual people vs. multiple actions taken by the same person.

User: A target audience individual for advertisers; i.e. the person browsing the web who will see an ad.

User Data: Information about users, either behavioral or demographic, which is generally associated with a User Unique ID rather than any personally identifiable information.

User Data Store: A place where data about a user is stored, which is generally referred to a user’s browser cookie.

User Generated Content (UGC): Content on a website that was created by users, not the publisher; for example, Facebook profiles or blogs.

User ID Mapping: Each buyer and seller may assign different IDs to a user.

VAST: Video Ad Serving Template, which is an XML-based video ad serving protocol and was created to provide a uniform way for video content to be transferred from ad servers to video players on web pages.

VPAID: Video Player Ad-Serving Interface Definition that was created to support more interactive rich media video formats.

Vendor: In general, a company with a specific product or service such as creating or delivering rich media, etc.

Viewability: The concept that whether or not an advertisement that someone paid can be actually seen by a user. Nowadays many ads are not in the places where audiences can see right away, and users need to scroll down the page in order to see these ads. However, every time the page loaded counts one impression for the ad, no matter if the user actually see it or not. Some ad vendors develop ad technology to allow advertisers to buy “viewable” inventory.

Yield Management: In brief, yield management is about selling the right things to the right customer at the right time for the right price to maximize revenue. In advertising it generally refers to maximizing the revenue of publishers and their impressions using tools.