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Advertising terminology on the internet

Above the fold: As it applies to Web design, above the fold refers to the portion of a Web page that is visible in a browser window when the page first loads. The portion of the page that requires scrolling in order to see content is called "below the fold." Placement above the fold is desirable because areas below the fold are frequently not seen.

Ad: In online advertising, an ad may take many different forms. It could be a banner, a graphic image or an animated GIF of a designated pixel size and byte size. An ad or set of ads for a campaign is often referred to as "the creative." Video ads, banners and other special advertising that include an interactive or visual element beyond the usual are known as rich media.

Ad blocker: An ad blocker is a software product that prevents advertisements from appearing with the content the user is intentionally viewing. People block ads for a variety of reasons. For example, many of them find interrupt marketing ads annoying and even stressful. Interrupt marketing is intrusive by design, like an interstitial ad that comes between users and the content they are attempting to view or an autoplay or rollover ad that starts up without any intentional act on the part of the user. 

Ad exchange: An ad exchange is a software-based automated marketplace that allows publishers to sell their ad inventory and advertisers to bid on and purchase the inventory in real time. 

Ad fraud: Ad fraud is a type of scam in which the perpetrator fools advertisers into paying for something that is worthless to them, such as fake traffic (See click fraud), fake leads or misrepresented and ineffective ad placement.

Ad fraud botnet: An ad fraud botnet is a distributed network of computers controlled by a botmaster to defraud advertisers. A botnet is made up of computers that are infected with malware and co-opted without the knowledge of the owners.

Ad network: An Ad network  is an intermediary company that acts as a broker between advertisers who want to purchase inventory and publishers who want to host ads.

Ad rotation: Ads are often rotated into ad spaces from a list. This is usually done automatically by software onlinesite or at a central site administered by an ad broker or server facility for a network of websites.

Ad server: An ad server is software that stores data about advertising content and delivers ads to websites and applications. Ad servers are specialized web servers.

Ad space: An ad space is a space on a web page that is reserved for ads. An ad space group is a group of spaces within a website that share the same characteristics so that an ad purchase can be made for the group of spaces.

Ad view: An ad view, synonymous with ad impression, is a single ad that appears on a web page when the page arrives at the viewer's browser display. Ad views are what most websites sell or prefer to sell. A web page may offer space for a number of ad views. In general, the term impression is more commonly used.

Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is the use by a website that sells products of other websites, called affiliates, to help market the products. Amazon created the first large-scale affiliate program and hundreds of other companies have followed since.

Auto-play video: Autoplay video is audiovisual content, usually containing advertisements or promoted content, that starts automatically when a user goes to the host web page. The purpose of autoplay is to get the user's attention, which it is bound to do so long as the user has sound turned on. Autoplay video is much more popular with advertisers than it is with potential customers.

Banner: A banner is an advertisement in the form of a graphic image that typically runs across a web page or is positioned in a margin or other space reserved for ads. Banner ads are usually Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) images. In addition to adhering to size, many websites limit the size of the file to a certain number of bytes so that the file will display quickly. The most common larger banner ad is 468 pixels wide by 60 pixels high. Smaller sizes include 125 by 125 and 120 by 90 pixels. These and other banner sizes have been established as standard sizes by the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Beyond the banner: This is the idea that, in addition to banner ads, there are other ways to use the Internet to communicate a marketing message. These include sponsoring a website or a particular feature on it; advertising in e-mail newsletters; co-branding with another company and its website; contest promotion; and, in general, finding new ways to engage and interact with the desired audience. "Beyond the banner" approaches can also include the interstitial and streaming video, as well as infomercial content. The banner itself can be transformed into a small rich media event.

Bid for placement: bid for placement is a paid inclusion search engine marketing model in which advertisers select keywords and bid per click for first link placement in search results using those terms. The top bidder on a specific keyword will get the top ad spot associated with search results for that term, the second-highest bidder the second spot, and so on; each will pay per click to their ads.

Booked space: This is the number of ad views for an ad space that are currently sold out.

Brand, brand name and branding: A brand is a product, service, or concept that is publicly distinguished from other products, services, or concepts so that it can be easily communicated and usually marketed. A brand name is the name of the distinctive product, service, or concept. Branding is the process of creating and disseminating the brand name. Branding can be applied to the entire corporate identity as well as to individual product and service names. In online and other media advertising, it is recognized that there is usually some kind of branding value whether or not an immediate, direct response can be measured from an ad or campaign. Companies like Proctor and Gamble have made a science out of creating and evaluating the success of their brand name products.

Brand recognition: Brand recognition is the extent to which a consumer can correctly identify a particular product or service just by viewing the product or service's logo, tag line, packaging or advertising campaign.

Caching: In internet advertising, the caching of pages in a cache server or the user's computer means that some ad views won't be known by the ad counting programs, which is a source of concern. There are several techniques for telling the browser not to cache particular pages. On the other hand, specifying no caching for all pages may mean that users will find your site to be slower than you would like.

Click: According to ad industry recommended guidelines from FAST, a click is "when a visitor interacts with an advertisement." This does not apparently mean simply interacting with a rich media ad, but actually clicking on it so that the visitor is headed toward the advertiser's destination. (It also does not mean that the visitor actually waits to fully arrive at the destination, but just that the visitor started going there.)

Click fraud: Also known as pay-per-click fraud, click fraud is the practice of artificially inflating traffic statistics for online advertisements, through automated clicking programs known as hitbots or low-paid humans.

Click stream: A click stream (or clickstream) is a recorded path of the pages a user requested in going through one or more websites. Click stream information can help website owners understand how visitors are using their site and which pages are getting the most use. It can help advertisers understand how users get to the client's pages, what pages they look at, and how they go about ordering a product.

Clickstream analysis: Clickstream analysis (also called clickstream analytics) is the process of collecting, analyzing and reporting aggregate data about which pages a website visitor visits -- and in what order. 

Clickthrough: A clickthrough is what is counted by the sponsoring site as a result of an ad click. In practice, click and clickthrough tend to be used interchangeably. A clickthrough, however, seems to imply that the user actually received the page. A few advertisers are willing to pay only for clickthroughs rather than for ad impressions.

Clickthrough rate (CRT): The clickthrough rate is the percentage of ad views that resulted in clickthroughs. Although there is visibility and branding value in ad views that don't result in a clickthrough, this value is difficult to measure. A clickthrough has several values: it's an indication of the ad's effectiveness and it results in the viewer getting to the advertiser's website where other messages can be provided. A new approach is for a click to result not in a link to another site but to an immediate product order window. What a successful click rate is depends on a number of factors, such as: the campaign objectives, how enticing the banner message is, how explicit the message is (a message that is complete within the banner may be less apt to be clicked), audience/message matching, how new the banner is, how often it is displayed to the same user, and so forth.

Co-branding: Co-branding online often means two websites or website sections or features displaying their logos (and thus their brands) together so that the viewer considers the site or feature to be a joint enterprise. (Co-branding is often associated with cross-linking between the sites, although it isn't necessary.)

Content marketing: Content marketing is the publication of material designed to promote a brand, usually through a more oblique and subtle approach than that of traditional push advertising. The essence of good content marketing is that it offers something the viewer wants, such as information or entertainment. 

Contextual advertising: Contextual advertising  targets people based on their behavior, such as the search queries they use and the websites they visit. Data from such behaviors are considered indicators for the individual’s interests to guide decisions about the ads they will be served.

Cookie: A cookie is a file on a Web user's hard drive (it's kept in one of the subdirectories under the browser file directory) that is used by websites to record data about the user. Some ad rotation software uses cookies to see which ad the user has just seen so that a different ad will be rotated into the next page view.

Cost-per-action: Cost-per-action is what an advertiser pays for each visitor that takes some specifically defined action in response to an ad beyond simply clicking on it. For example, a visitor might visit an advertiser's site and request to be subscribe to their newsletter.

Cost-per-lead: This is a more specific form of cost-per-action in which a visitor provides enough information at the advertiser's site (or in interaction with a rich media ad)to be used as a sales lead. Note that you can estimate cost-per-lead regardless of how you pay for the ad (in other words, buying on a pay-per-lead basis is not required to calculate the cost-per-lead).

Cost-per-like: Cost-per-like (CPL) is a metric that's used by marketers who want to evaluate the effectiveness of a social media campaign on Facebook. The goal of CPL is to quantify how many advertising dollars must be spent to get a Facebook member to “Like” a particular Facebook page

Cost-per-sale: Sites that sell products directly from their website or can otherwise determine sales generated as the result of an advertising sales lead can calculate the cost-per-sale of Web advertising.

CPA: See cost-per-action.

CPC: See cost-per-click.

CPM: CPM is "cost per thousand" ad impressions, an industry standard measure for selling ads on websites. This measure is taken from print advertising. The "M" has nothing to do with "mega" or million. It's taken from the Roman numeral for "thousand."

CPS: See cost-per-sale.

CPTM: CPTM is "cost per thousand targeted" ad impressions, apparently implying that the audience you're selling is targeted to particular demographics.

(the) Creative: ad agencies and buyers often refer to ad banners and other forms of created advertising as ""the creative." Since the creative requires creative inspiration and skill that may come from a third party, it often doesn't arrive until late in the preparation for a new campaign launch.

CTR: See clickthrough rate.

Customer acquisition cost: Customer acquisition cost is the investment required  to convince a consumer to buy your product or service, including research, marketing, and advertising costs. An important business metric, customer acquisition cost should be considered along with other data, especially the value of the customer to the company and the resulting return on investment (ROI) of acquisition. 

Customer valuation: In customer relationship management (CRM), customer valuation is a scoring process used to help a company determine which customers the company should target in order to maximize profit. 

Demand-side platform (DSP): A demand-side platform is software that allows an advertiser to buy inventory from ad exchanges and manage advertising campaigns. A DSP accesses data from multiple sources and performs real-time analytics to evaluate impressions as they are offered and place bids accordingly. 

Demographics: Demographics is data about the size and characteristics of a population or audience (for example, gender, age group, income group, purchasing history, personal preferences, and so forth).

FAST: FAST is a coalition of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), the ANA, and the ARF that has recommended or is working on guidelines for consumer privacy, ad models and creative formats, audience and ad impression measurement, and a standard reporting template together with a standard insertion order. FAST originated with Proctor and Gamble's Future of Advertising Stakeholders Summit in August, 1998. FAST's first guideline, available in March, 1999, was a guideline on "Basic Advertising Measures." Our definitions in this list include the FAST definitions for impression and click.

Filtering: Filtering is the immediate analysis by a program of a user web page request in order to determine which ad or ads to return in the requested page. A web page request can tell a website or its ad server whether it fits a certain characteristic such as coming from a particular company's address or that the user is using a particular level of browser. The ad server can respond accordingly.

Fold: The fold is the dividing line between the part of a web page that is immediately visible when the page loads and the lower sections. You don't have to scroll down (or sideways) to see the portion above the fold. Since screen resolution can affect what is immediately viewable, it's good to know what the website's audience tends to set as their resolution.

Geotargeting: geotargeting involves serving ads to a specific market based on the geographic location of potential buyers. Given the variety of situations around the world at any given time, a city, state or country can often constitute a niche market for certain products or services.

Google AdSense: Google AdSense is a program in which enterprises can display Google advertisements on Web sites and earn revenue from hits that generate traffic for the Google search engines

Hit: A hit is the sending of a single file whether an HTML file, an image, an audio file, or other file type. Since a single web page request can bring with it a number of individual files, the number of hits from a site is a not a good indication of its actual use (number of visitors). It does have meaning for the website space provider, however, as an indicator of traffic flow.

Impact-based advertising: Impact-based advertising is a marketing approach designed to have a lasting psychological effect on viewers so they will remember the product or vendor. This approach can help advertising produce the greatest results for a given expenditure.

Impression: According to the "Basic Advertising Measures," from FAST, an ad industry group, an impression is "The count of a delivered basic advertising unit from an ad distribution point." Impressions are how most Web advertising is sold and the cost is quoted in terms of the cost per thousand impressions (CPM ).

Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB): The IAB is an organization that fosters the growth of advertising on the Internet. Membership is available to corporations engaged in selling, measuring, monitoring or producing advertising on the Internet. 

Interrupt marketing: interrupt marketing, sometimes referred to as interruption marketing, is the traditional model of product promotion, in which people have to stop what they're doing to pay attention  to the marketing message or deal with it in some other way. 

IO: See insertion order.

Insertion order: An insertion order is a formal, printed order to run an ad campaign. Typically, the insertion order identifies the campaign name, the website receiving the order and the planner or buyer giving the order, the individual ads to be run (or who will provide them), the ad sizes, the campaign beginning and end dates, the CPM, the total cost, discounts to be applied, and reporting requirements and possible penalties or stipulations relative to the failure to deliver the impressions.

Interstitial: An interstitial (something "in between") is a page that is inserted in the normal flow of editorial content structure on a Web site for the purpose of advertising or promotion. It can be more or less intrusive and the reaction of viewers usually depends on how welcome or entertaining the message is.

Inventory: Inventory is the total number of ad views or impressions that a website has available for sale over a given period of time (usually, inventory is figured by the month).

Malvertisement: A malvertisement (malicious advertisement) is an online ad that is capable of infecting the viewer's computer with malware. Compromised computers can be used to create powerful botnets that can be used to carry out identity theft, corporate espionage, ad fraud or other illegal activity.

Media broker: Since it's often not efficient for an advertiser to select every website it wants to put ads on, media brokers aggregate sites for advertisers and their media planners and buyers, based on demographics and other factors.

Media buyer: A media buyer, usually at an advertising agency, works with a media planner to allocate the money provided for an advertising campaign among specific print or online media (magazines, TV, websites, and so forth), and then calls and places the advertising orders. online, placing the order often includes requesting proposals and negotiating the final cost.

Native advertising: Native advertising is the integration of marketing content with a website or service in such a way that it is not distinct from the rest of the material presented there in terms of its content, format, style or placement. 

Neuromarketing: Neuromarketing is the study of how people's brains respond to advertising and other brand-related messages by scientifically monitoring brainwave activity, eye-tracking and skin response.

Opt-in e-mail: Opt-in e-mail is e-mail containing information or advertising that users explicitly request (opt )to receive. Typically, a website invites its visitors to fill out forms identifying subject or product categories that interest them and about which they are willing to receive e-mail from anyone who might send it. The website sells the names (with explicit or implicit permission from their visitors) to a company that specializes in collecting mailing lists that represent different interests. Whenever the mailing list company sells its lists to advertisers, the website is paid a small amount for each name that it generated for the list. You can sometimes identify opt-in e-mail because it starts with a statement that tells you that you have previously agreed to receive such messages.

Paid inclusion: paid inclusion is a search engine marketing model in which Web site owners pay a search engine company to guarantee their sites will show up in search results. In addition to guaranteeing that a client's Web site will be indexed, paid inclusion may ensure that the search engine's crawler software visits the client's site more frequently, and may also give clients the option to submit information about their pages more often.

Pay-per-click: In pay-per-click advertising, the advertiser pays a certain amount for each clickthrough to the advertiser's website. The amount paid per clickthrough is arranged at the time of the insertion order and varies considerably. Higher pay-per-click rates recognize that there may be some "no-click" branding value as well as clickthrough value provided.

Pay-per-lead: In pay-per-lead advertising, the advertiser pays for each sales lead generated. For example, an advertiser might pay for every visitor that clicked on a site and then filled out a form.

Pay-per-sale: Pay-per-sale is not customarily used for ad buys. It is, however, the customary way to pay websites that participate in affiliate programs, such as those of and

Pay-per-view: Since this is the prevalent type of ad buying arrangement at larger websites, this term tends to be used only when comparing this most prevalent method with pay-per-click and other methods.

Pre-roll ad: A pre-roll ad is a promotional video message that plays before the content the user has selected. The video advertisements are often repurposed television ads, sometimes shortened to 10 or 15 seconds because the 30-second standard for ads on television is not suitable for videos, which are themselves frequently only a few minutes long.  

Pop-up ad: A pop-up ad  is a pop-up window used for advertising. When the program is initiated by some user action, such as a mouse click or a mouseover, a window containing an offer for some product or service appears in the foreground of the visual interface. 

Programmatic advertising: Programmatic advertising is a system that automates the processes and transactions involved with purchasing and dynamically placing ads on websites or apps. Programmatic advertising makes it possible to purchase and place ads, including targeted advertising content, in less than a second. Ads are placed through an auction system known as real-time bidding (RTB). 

Proof of performance: Some advertisers may want proof that the ads they've bought have actually run and that clickthrough figures are accurate. In print media, tearsheets taken from a publication prove that an ad was run. Online, there is no industry-wide practice for proof of performance. Some buyers rely on the integrity of the media broker and the website. The ad buyer usually checks the website to determine the ads are actually running. Most buyers require weekly figures during a campaign. A few want to look directly at the figures, viewing the ad server or website reporting tool.

Psychographic characteristics: This is a term for personal interest information that is gathered by websites by requesting it from users. For example, a website could ask users to list the websites that they visit most often. Advertisers could use this data to help create a demographic profile for that site.

Push advertising: Push advertising is the traditional marketing approach, in which promotional material is presented to large groups of people through channels including flyers, magazines, television, radio and billboards. Online examples of push advertising include email campaigns, interstitialspre-roll video ads and banner ads

Real-time bidding (RTB): RTB is an automated auction process for the purchase of individual ad impressions on websites and other online venues such as apps and games. RTB is an integral component of programmatic advertising, which automates the processes and transactions involved in buying and placing ads.

Reporting template: Although the media have to report data to ad agencies and media planners and buyers during and at the end of each campaign, no standard report is yet available.

Retargeting: Also known as remarketing, Retargeting is digital advertising that features specific products or services and targets an individual who has viewed them online. Customers and leads already in an advertiser's database may also be subjects for retargeting. Retargeting is the technology behind ads that follow people from one site to another.

Revenue attribution: Revenue attribution is the process of matching customer sales to specific advertisements in order to understand where revenue is coming from and optimize how advertising budgets are spent in the future.

Rich media: Rich media is advertising that contains perceptual or interactive elements more elaborate than the usual banner ad. Today, the term is often used for banner ads with popup menus that let the visitor select a particular page to link to on the advertiser's site. Rich media ads are generally more challenging to create and to serve. Some early studies have shown that rich media ads tend to be more effective than ordinary animated banner ads.

ROI: In the context of advertising, ROI (return on investment) is "the bottom line" on how successful an ad or campaign was in terms of what the returns (generally sales revenue)were for the money expended (invested).

Rollover ad: A rollover ad (sometimes called a mouse-over ad) is an online advertisement that appears to be a static image until the cursor touches the image and activates it. Movement of the cursor over the image is known as a rollover. In the case of a rollover ad, activation usually causes an expansion of the ad.

RON: See run-of-network.

ROS: See run-of-site.

Run-of-network: A run-of-network ad is one that is placed to run on all sites within a given network of sites. Ad sales firms handle run-of-network insertion orders in such a way as to optimize results for the buyer consistent with higher priority ad commitments.

Run-of-site: A run-of-site ad is one that is placed to rotate on all nonfeatured ad spaces on a site. CPM rates for run-of-site ads are usually less than for rates for specially-placed ads or sponsorships.

Search engine marketing (SEM): Search engine marketing is a method of promotion and advertising to help companies’ content rank higher among search engine traffic. Like search engine optimization, search engine marketing helps companies improve the way content is ranked by search engines

Search engine optimization (SEO): Search engine optimization (SEO) is an area of website development that seeks to improve the way content is ranked by search engines in organic search results. Various approaches are taken to achieve that goal, including making sure the website architecture makes it easy for visitors to find content and that pages are mobile-friendly and load quickly. 

Social media marketing (SMM): Social media marketing (SMM) is a form of internet marketing that uses social networking websites as a marketing tool. The goal of SMM is to produce content that users will share with their social network to help a company increase brand exposure and broaden customer reach. 

Splash page: A splash page (known as an interstitial in an advertising context) is a preliminary page that precedes the regular home page of a website and usually promotes a particular site feature or provides advertising. A splash page is timed to move on to the home page after a short period of time.

Sponsor: Depending on the context, a sponsor simply means an advertiser who has sponsored an ad and, by doing so, has also helped sponsor or sustain the website itself. It can also mean an advertiser that has a special relationship with the website and supports a special feature of a website, such as a writer's column, a Flower-of-the-Day or a collection of articles on a particular subject.

Sponsorship: Sponsorship is an association with a website in some way that gives an advertiser some particular visibility and advantage above that of run-of-site advertising. When associated with specific content, sponsorship can provide a more targeted audience than run-of-site ad buys. Sponsorship also implies a "synergy and resonance" between the website and the advertiser. Some sponsorships are available as value-added opportunities for advertisers who buy a certain minimum amount of advertising.

Supply-side platform (SSP): A supply-side platform is a software system that allows publishers to offer their available inventory  to ad exchanges and demand-side platforms (DSP). In this context, supply side refers to the supply of advertising space, which is what the publisher is offering.

Targeted advertising: Targeting is purchasing ad space on websites that match audience and campaign objective requirements. A targeted ad is an advertisement that is served to a specific audience, which could be a particular demographic, a group or an individual.

Transition ad:A transition ad is a Web page containing a commercial message that appears temporarily between two other Web pages. This kind of interstitial advertisement either fills the current browser window or opens in a new window (in the latter case it's called a pop-up transition ad).

TrueView: TrueView is a YouTube video ad format that gives the viewer options, the most common of which is the ability to skip the advertisement after five seconds. 

Unique visitor: A unique visitor is someone with a unique address who is entering a website for the first time that day (or some other specified period). Thus, a visitor that returns within the same day is not counted twice. A unique visitors count tells you how many different people there are in your audience during the time period, but not how much they used the site during the period.

User session: A user session is someone with a unique address that enters or reenters a website each day (or some other specified period). A user session is sometimes determined by counting only those users that haven't reentered the site within the past 20 minutes or a similar period. User session figures are sometimes used, somewhat incorrectly, to indicate "visits" or "visitors" per day. User sessions are a better indicator of total site activity than "unique visitors" since they indicate frequency of use.

View: A view is, depending on what's meant, either an ad view or a page view. Usually an ad view is what's meant. There can be multiple ad views per page views. View counting should consider that a small percentage of users choose to turn the graphics off (not display the images)in their browser.

Visit: A visit is a Web user with a unique address entering a website at some page for the first time that day (or for the first time in a lesser time period). The number of visits is roughly equivalent to the number of different people that visit a site. This term is ambiguous unless the user defines it, since it could mean a user session or it could mean a unique visitor that day.

This was last updated in March 2017
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