In a first-price auction, the highest bidder determines the impression price. In a second-price auction, the second-highest bidder determines the price of an impression.
Above the Fold
Web content visible without having to scroll down the page. Considered more premium because it is generally more viewable inventory.
A marketplace platform that facilitates automated, auction-based buying and selling of ad inventory from the various ad networks. Ad exchanges operate in real time, and inventory is bought as needed.
Any deliberate activity that prevents the proper delivery of ads to the intended audience in the intended place. Occurs when perpetrators generate fake activity in order to generate ad revenue. Common fraud techniques include bot activity, cloaked URLs, and unviewable ads hiding behind other content.
A third-party company that connects websites that want to monetize their ad inventory with the appropriate advertisers. Ad networks aggregate publishers into content categories (travel, home and garden, sports) and then find the corresponding advertisers who want to buy that ad inventory at a high volume for a lower price, enabling advertisers to forego site-direct buys. Most ad networks today specialize in a niche content area, working with advertisers who wish to have their brand associated with content aligned with their brand category.
A technology and service that determines instantaneously what ads show up on a website and then serves those ads. Ad servers are used by publishers, advertisers, and ad networks to push their advertisements to desired ad inventory and measure the success and progress of different campaigns.
Businesses hire affiliates to promote their product(s) and compensate those affiliates for each customer the affiliate brings in.
A list of pre-approved domains that a brand has deemed acceptable for its advertising to appear on. Leveraged as a tool for advertisers to manage brand safety, an allow list provides significant control, limiting the appearance of ads to domains with content the advertiser feels aligns with their brand. However, an allow list can dramatically limit scale and miss out on inventory on smaller high-quality publishers. To achieve brand safety while also gaining the full benefits of programmatic, a blocklist is the recommended alternative.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, etc.
The identification of a set of user actions (“events” or “touchpoints”) that contribute to a desired outcome (“conversion”) and the assignment of value to each of these actions. Attribution reflects the touchpoints along the customer journey that may have impacted purchase and is correlative rather than causal. It answers the question: “What touchpoints were associated with a consumer conversion?”
Auction (First-Price vs. Second-Price)
A specific group of consumers who are most likely to want a product or service, based on their age, gender, income, geolocation, interests, purchase intention, or other factors. Advertisers seek out the audiences most likely to be receptive to an ad campaign.
Refers to the moment a consumer learns about a brand’s product or service. Awareness campaigns enable marketers to get in front of customers with messaging that puts the brand front and center, so it’s noticed. When looking at the marketing funnel, this is the first point of engagement with new consumers along the customer journey. See other stages of the marketing funnel, such as consideration and conversion.
Publishers and advertisers can reach their audiences more effectively based on observations of past web behavior. This is a key tenant of digital advertising, leveraging preferences and predictions to drive ad personalization.
Below the Fold
Web content that is visible after scrolling down. Although it is often viewed as less premium inventory, if a website has engaging content, these ad units can be some of the most embedded onto the page, creating more opportunities for customer engagement.
The number of bids that exist for one particular impression.
Average rate in a media buy. Calculated as the Effective Cost per Thousand (“mille”).
A technique buyers use to determine what the bid price should be. Vendors will analyze multiple factors, such as what bid rates typically win on a certain site or in what position on the site, to calculate an appropriate bid cost to avoid overpaying for impressions.
Data that is passed from the publisher to the bidders via a real-time bidding (RTB) auction. Can contain information on the location of the user, the device type, website they are on, browser language, search terms, or authenticated ID.
The amount of impressions counted towards fulfilling a contract. Because there can be a slight discrepancy between ad serving systems, these are tracked and charged based on externally validated impression counts (i.e., through third-party impression reporting).
A list of websites where an advertiser determines their creative is not allowed to appear, due to the fraudulent or inappropriate nature of the content which could harm their brand reputation.
Its primary aim is to get people to believe in something. The goal of brand advertising is to foster long-term positive recognition by establishing brand identity, credibility, and loyalty and connecting with prospects intellectually and emotionally.
Digital measurement that leverages surveys to quantify the increase in brand perception against key purchase funnel metrics, including awareness, ad recall, brand attributes, favorability, preference, consideration, intent, and perception. Questions can include: “Which of the following brands have you heard of?” and “Which of the following would you consider purchasing?” Brand lift studies leverage a control / exposed methodology but data collection can vary. For example, Nielsen DBE asks these questions using in-banner surveys, generally limiting them to a single question. Millward Brown and Research Now, however, are panel-based, asking their large opt-in panels questions about the brand, allowing for longer form surveys to be deployed.
A set of measures that work to protect the reputation of a brand from the negative or damaging effects of undesirable or inappropriate content when advertising online. These measures can include employing blocklists or allowlists, preventing ads from being displayed on websites in certain content categories (including piracy, adult, hate speech, and known malware sites), or partnering with third-party verification vendors such as DoubleVerify or MOAT.
The ability to update multiple line items in one campaign or across multiple campaigns at once.
The number of times a user has clicked on a digital advertisement. A ‘display click’ is a click on a paid online ad; a ‘search click’ is click on a search result ad. To understand the application of clicks in digital measurement, see click conversion, conversion (view vs. click), and CPC. For counter metric, see ad impressions.
Content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular website with a defining characteristic of being deceptive, typically misleading.
“Click” or “click-through” conversions only count a conversion when a user has clicked on the ad shown for that impression. Click conversions can be tracked only on “last click” meaning the most recent in time before the conversion event.
Connected TV (CTV)
A device used to stream digital video. CTVs can include smart TV platforms, streaming services, or video game consoles such as Xbox, PlayStation, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. In digital advertising, this has provided a new channel, which allows for advertisers to insert their video ads in streamed digital video. With broadcast television becoming increasingly digital, it allows for advertisers to tap into the power of digital, while also reaching their audience watching more traditional television content. For more digital ad formats, see banner display ads, rich media, mobile ads, video ads, native ads, and social ads.
Reaching consumers who have heard of your brand or product but need to understand details about the product or service to be sold on your brand specifically. These consumers are often researching a product category and are evaluating your brand against the competitive set. To be brought into their consideration set and selected, brands must showcase the benefits and key differentiators. When looking at the marketing funnel, consideration is considered mid-funnel along the customer journey, sitting between upper funnel brand advertising and lower funnel direct response advertising. See other stages of the marketing funnel, such as awareness and conversion.
Within display incrementality testing, the audience receiving the PSA ad.
A way to identify a person through the information on the websites they visit.
Conversion (View vs. Click)
An action or event that can be counted–such as a purchase, sign-up, or download. Conversions drive optimal business outcomes for a performance campaign. “View” or “view-through” conversions are counted when a user has viewed an impression but did not click on it, whereas “click” or “click-through” conversions only count a conversion when a user has clicked on the ad shown for that impression. View conversions can be attributed to numerous partners, but click conversions can be tracked only on “last click,” meaning the most recent in time before the conversion event.
The number of conversions driven for each impression served.
Cost Per Acquisition. The average advertising cost of one driven conversion. Calculated as the total cost (or budget) / conversions.
Cost Per Click on an advertisement. Price paid for each click generated. Also known as “pay-per-click.” Calculated as the total cost (or budget) / clicks.
Cost Per Thousand, using the Latin “Mille” instead of thousand. The amount an advertiser pays a website for every thousand times a brand’s ad is shown. Calculated as 1000 x total cost (or budget) / impressions.
Click-Through Rate of an advertisement. A core metric of the click model, this is the ratio of times an ad is clicked on, compared to the number of times an ad is shown. Calculated as clicks / impressions.
The type of digital media shown to internet users to communicate a message and draw attention, intended to ultimately drive users to take a specific action.
Experimenting with different ad assets to find the highest-performing creative and utilizing that creative more often in the campaign.
Advertising across different media platforms, including radio, television, paid search, social media, display, mobile, video, connected TV, etc.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Data
Data from an advertiser’s customer database, which can include their name, email address, mailing address, and phone number, accompanied by their past purchase of your product. This is considered first-party data and can be very valuable, as it reflects the advertiser’s actual customer base.
Data (First-Party, Second-Party, Third-Party)
First-party data is information directly collected from a company’s own source on consumers’ behaviors, actions, or interests, so it’s “owned” by a single source. This can include a brand’s customer database, information about website visits or actions on their website, and other points of engagement collected about that business’s customers or visitors. This data is considered the most valuable. Second-party data is data that is shared with a partner, often to help with personalization or to support a mutually beneficial partnership. Third-party data is information that a company collects indirectly (such as through third-party cookies) or aggregates from others (such as credit card companies and magazine publishers) and then sells to ad buyers.
Data Management Platform (DMP)
A data warehouse used to aggregate and target relevant audience segments. Once aggregated, this data is easily accessible to marketers for planning, activation/modeling, and validation / measurement.
Impressions that are unable to be tracked for viewability. If an ad is displayed within a nested iFrame (“cross-domain iFrames”), its position on the page cannot be determined. Viewability vendors use different workarounds for this challenge, often with varying degrees of success, resulting in a certain percentage of “unmeasurable” impressions in a viewability report. See also viewability.
Central Repository for integrated data from multiple sources (Salesforce, AD Reporting, AdTrain, and many more).
Demand-Side Platform (DSP)
A technology platform that provides inventory buying opportunities from multiple sources. Utilizes real-time bidding capabilities of these sources to access and win inventory auctions.
Known information on a user, determined from the source. The most common deterministic data is login information, or more specifically, email addresses. This term can be applied to data, targeting, and measurement. Its opposite in ad tech is probabilistic.
Data that is gathered firsthand rather than through a third party. Direct data is usually more current, a better indication of behavioral insights and good for creating more granular or niche audiences. Evaluation of direct data providers focuses on sound and lawful methodology for data collection and the ability to scale data up accurately. For other data collection types, see panel data.
Direct Response Advertising
Its primary aim is to evoke an immediate response and compel prospects to take a specific action such as click, site visit, download, or purchase. This can employ different tactics including prospecting and retargeting. Also known as performance targeting. Shorthand abbreviations include DR.
Dynamic CPM (dCPM)
A transparent pricing model in which every impression is a unique price that changes based on the value of the impression.
Dynamic Creative Optimization
Ad creatives that are dynamically served to make each ad more relevant, but on a massive scale. The most common approach is Dynamic Retargeting, where ads can display products a user browsed or added to their shopping cart. Dynamic ads can also recommend similar products or best-selling items based on user browsing or similar offers based on browsing behavior.
Information directly collected from a company’s own source on consumers’ behaviors, actions, or interests, so it’s “owned” by a single source. This can include a brand’s customer database, website visits or actions on their website, and other points of engagement collected on customers. This data is considered the most valuable.
Foot Traffic Attribution
Connects online ad exposure to offline in‐store visits. This is an increasingly popular measurement option for brick-and-mortar retailers and quick-serve-restaurants (QSRs) whose ultimate goal is to drive consumers into their storefronts. Foot traffic attribution measures incremental sales lift by comparing the number of individuals who were both exposed to a digital ad and entered a brick-and-mortar location to those who entered the store but were not served a branded ad. Metrics that can be measured include total store visits, cost per store visit, store visit lift, cost per store visit lift, and incremental revenue.
The number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message, in order to drive the desired outcome. Frequency is calculated as the number of delivered impressions per unique user. It’s important to note that multiple exposures to an ad over an extended period of time is more likely to shift a subject’s perception of a brand (and drive desired outcomes), compared with a single exposure. Conversely, too many exposures can reduce impact, alienate prospects, and/or waste impressions. Unfortunately when programmatic players attempt to set ideal brand frequency, they are often leveraging frequency caps, not optimal frequency. See frequency caps versus frequency targeting.
Advertisers can set the frequency that a user is shown an ad at the flight level, with the goal of slowly showcasing a brand over a long period of time. This drives brand lift.
Advertisers can set the frequency that a user is shown an ad (or campaign variants) at the flight level, with the goal of slowly showcasing a brand over a long period of time. This drives brand lift.
The method that allows advertisers to serve ads to consumers that correspond to their location (country, region, city, zip code). Geotargeting is limited by law in some locations.
Programmatic ad buying that allows publishers to offer their inventory to several ad exchanges before initiating the ad server process. Header bidding bypasses the complexity of the ad server auction to find the best prices for their ad inventory. In header bidding, publishers load code on their webpage before content is loaded and before the ad server is called. This provides media buyers with a “first look” at the ad slot before it is available for a real-time bidding auction.
Measures the impact of a single variable on an individual user’s behavior. For digital display marketing, it is most commonly used to measure the impact of a branded digital ad (exposed group) against a Public Service Announcement (PSA) ad (control group). The lift is measured as the percent difference between the two. Incrementality demonstrates the value of advertising, helping to answer the question: “Did my ad result in a purchase?”
Measuring how a specific marketing event (e.g., site conversion) was causally influenced by a media channel or tactic, in this case display, over a set time period and budget to isolate the impact of a particular (digital) advertising tactic on sales. This methodology involves serving a PSA placement to a control group and a branded ad to the test / exposed group) and comparing the results. For this approach, if the control group is randomly selected, both groups should be behaviorally, demographically, and psychologically similar with the only difference between the groups being which ad they viewed.
The identifying number that is tied to a person’s home internet connection.
A process that uses machine learning to identify audiences who look and act very similarly to a known audience. Look-alike models are often used to create scale and find more people who will take a desired action.
The time between a conversion event and a prior engagement event, such as an ad click or view.
Machine Learning (ML)
The scientific study of algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to progressively improve their performance on a specific task.
The marketing funnel is a visualization for moving your customers through the consumer journey from lead to sales. The most common funnel includes awareness, consideration, and conversion, although more complicated versions may also include interest, preference, intent, evaluation, trial, and advocacy. Digital media is often planned in silos, with budgets allocated to upper funnel brand advertising tactics separately from lower funnel direct response advertising efforts.
A combination of tag event labels from the advertiser’s data set that are strung together with an “and” or “or” logical operator. Assigned to event groups for delivery, modeling, and reporting purposes.
Companies that specialize in advertising, acting as a resource to brands to help plan, buy, and measure advertising campaigns across marketing channels. They are uniquely positioned to help provide broader, cross-industry expertise, advising marketers on how to best represent their brand and most efficiently allocate marketing dollars to reach consumers. Within an agency, there might be an Agency Trading Desk (ADT), an independent unit that buys on their behalf, with the idea that by bringing things in-house through the use of technology, you can operate more efficiently and transparently.
Media buying is the process of purchasing ad space and time on digital and offline platforms, such as websites, YouTube, radio, and TV. A media buyer is also responsible for negotiating with publishers for ad inventory, managing budgets, and optimizing ads to improve campaign performance.
Ads displayed on mobile browsers or apps on smartphones and tablets. These can include: mobile web (which are just display ad units displayed within the mobile browser), mobile app (often larger units customized to and displayed on apps on your mobile device), and, mobile video (which allows for advertisers to run video ads on mobile devices). For more digital ad formats, see banner display ads, rich media, video ads, native ads, social ads, and connected TV (CTV).
An audience profile based on observed activity, created to understand your audience, set objectives, and facilitate achievement of those objectives. Models are different, depending on what you are training them to achieve. For example, a model could be created based on purchasing activity from your website, helping you to reach an audience exhibiting similar behaviors; a model based on people who have landed on your product promotion page, helping a publisher to understand behaviors of visitors; a model based on people who have viewed your video ad more than 60% to completion, helping you understand behaviors of engaged visitors; a model based on people who look like your offline customer to drive online conversions.
The number of original visits to a website by a given cookie or browser throughout the month, regardless of how often they visit.
Native ads are paid ads that match the look and feel of the website, app, or social network on which the ad is displayed. This facilitates seamless blending of the ad into the content of the page. The advantage of native ads is that they are more likely to be trusted content and clicked on because of the integration with website content. Native ads are also perceived as less disruptive to the user because they are so integrated into the page. Native ads are built from individual components that are assembled dynamically to mirror the aesthetic of each publisher. Each native ad has a different look and feel, depending on how the publisher shows the ad. There are two main types: 1. In-feed ads are placed in article and content feeds. As consumers scroll the listing of article summaries, editorial is mixed with native ad units, providing an uninterrupted flow. 2. Content recommendation ads are displayed alongside other editorial content, ads, or paid content. They are typically found below or alongside publisher content, such as an article or in a feed. For more digital ad formats, see banner display ads, rich media, mobile ads, video ads, social ads, and connected TV (CTV).
Non-PII (Non-Personally Identifiable Information)
Information tied to a user that doesn’t reveal any sensitive information such as home address, name, or credit card number.
Offline Sales Measurement
Also known as offline-to-online purchase measurement, this links online advertising to offline sales by measuring the lift in purchase from those exposed to a digital ad. Vendors such as Nielsen Catalina Solutions, Oracle, IRI, and Kantar Group collect offline purchase data (point-of-sales [POS], coupon, loyalty card, and panel data) and leverage their robust database technology to match consumers who purchased offline with their online cookie.
Online Data Aggregator
Companies that establish relationships with a large number of publishers in order to gain insight into cookie users.
A person’s online identifier that distinguishes demographic, psychographic, or behavioral elements of a person.
Questions regarding a consumer’s interest in being tracked for advertising purposes by websites.
A visitor to a website from an unpaid traffic source who performs a desired action, such as signing up for a new account, registering for an event, or downloading a PDF. Success is measured based on “organic conversion rate,” which is calculated based on the percentage of total visitors that convert.
Observations or conclusions about consumer behavior derived from a sample which is representative of a larger population. Often panel data is gathered through surveys or interviews. Panel data is less expensive than collecting first-party data, useful for directional information, and particularly suited for reaching broad audiences, like with a brand campaign or a new launch campaign. Panels are samples, so they are usually derived from less than 1% of the population. This can make them a weak source of information about niche audiences because there might not be a statistically significant sample size to build off of. For other data collection types, see direct data.
Its primary aim is to evoke an immediate response and compel prospects to take a specific action such as click, site visit, download, or purchase. This can employ different tactics including prospecting and retargeting. Also known as direct response advertising.
Using consumer behavior to deliver more relevant experiences. In advertising, ad personalization looks at attributes such as web browsing behavior, interests, past purchases, and demographics to align relevant offers with the most relevant consumers. On top of reaching the right consumers, users increasingly expect brands to provide personalized creative experiences, so this can be paired with dynamic creative optimization.
The fraudulent practice of having a click purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
This is short for personally identifiable information, which can identify a particular person, such as name, street address, Social Security number, credit card number, etc.
Pieces of code that are placed on a website in order to gather valuable information about visitors to the site and their behaviors while on the site.
10-15 second online ad that appears before video.
Private Marketplace (PMP)
Deals that are negotiated as invitation-only auctions, providing certain buyers in the ad exchange preference. A publishers’ direct sales team can negotiate a deal with certain clients ahead of time, including a max bid, max CPM, ad unit types, certain site sections, etc. If a publisher has an impression that matches the negotiated deal’s criteria, it triggers a bid request encoded with a special Deal ID number. The auction calls out to demand partners and prioritizes buyers with the matching Deal ID.
Relying on probability and statistical analysis to make inferences on a user. While it is less accurate because it includes unknowns, it allows for scale, often taking a known deterministic data seed and leveraging modeling technology to amplify its scale. This term can be applied to data, targeting, and measurement. Its opposite in ad tech is deterministic.
Automatic process of buying and selling of digital advertisement placements through real-time bidding, supported by real-time bidding technology and several data sources.
Targeting new audiences who are a good fit for your brand and likely to convert. Prospecting is a key strategy used in combination with retargeting to drive new potential customers into the marketing funnel.
Refers to advertisers or agencies working directly with a publisher to buy advertising space on their website or publication. Through a more manual sales process, they agree to a price, placement, audience reached, and time frame. This traditional approach to media buying benefits larger websites that can afford a dedicated sales team, often being able to sell their inventory at a premium; however, it is often not an option for niche or incumbent websites that cannot afford this overhead and attract the attention of larger advertisers.
Queries Per Second
Unit of measure for amount of search traffic per second.
Data signals that are delivered immediately after they are received, without delay.
Real-Time Bidding (RTB)
Bidding or buying inventory in real time. Advertising buyers bid on an impression and, if the bid is won, the buyer’s ad is (nearly) instantly displayed on the publisher’s site, without the user being aware of the auction.
A critical measurement for upper funnel campaigns, this is the percentage of ads that reached your intended audience. Reach is calculated as total impressions divided by ad frequency. This is often measured as “in-target delivery” and validated through a third-party audience validation vendor. By reaching the desired audience with the optimal frequency, marketers can achieve upper funnel key performance indicators such as lift in awareness, interest, consideration, or preference.
Serving ads to consumers who have previously engaged via site visits or email sign-ups, where the prior engagement did not result in a sale or conversion. Shorthand abbreviations include RT and RET.
Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
The amount of revenue generated by all customers who made a purchase and received advertising messaging). It is calculated as Revenue / Advertising Costs.
Rich media is similar to banner ads but with added interactivity that encourages more interaction from the user through added features, such as video, audio, or animation. Rich media ads can also expand to a larger size and contain added features within the ad, such as polling, send to a friend, downloads, and more.These ads may also include more detailed tracking information, such as time spent with ad, expansion rate, plays, pauses, and more, to better understand their performance. For more digital ad formats, see banner display ads, mobile ads, video ads, native ads, social ads, and connected TV (CTV).
Data that is shared with a partner, often to help with personalization or to support a mutually beneficial partnership.
Short for Search Engine Optimization, this is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to a website through organic search engine results to give higher rankings in search engine result pages (SERPS) for increased visibility.
Short for Search Engine Marketing, this marketing tactic uses paid media advertising to give websites higher rankings in search engine result pages (SERPS) for increased visibility.
Supply Path Optimization (SPO)
A technique in which certain ad exchanges are suppressed in order for ad inventory to be placed at the lowest and most effective cost.
Supply Side Platform (SSP)
A technology platform that helps publishers manage their advertising inventory while maximizing potential revenue. SSPs allow publishers to manage their inventory in real time, prioritizing their own direct buys first (which net them more money), and then uploading their unsold inventory to the ad exchanges. SSP reporting capabilities also provide insight into what inventory is selling best and at what price point.
A piece of code inserted within a webpage that triggers an http(s) request to an ad server, providing information such as the cookie, page URL, screen resolution, and browser information, and allows for an ad to load. Asynchronous tags load in the background, allowing the client’s page to load independent of the tag’s server calls, having minimal impact on lag times and end-user experience.
Test / Exposed Group
Within display incrementality testing, the audience receiving the branded ad.
Information that a company collects indirectly (such as through third-party cookies) or aggregates from others (such as credit card companies and magazine publishers) and then sells to ad buyers.
Vendors who monitor and validate metrics such as completion rates, in-target delivery, viewability, ad fraud, and brand safety. IAS, MOAT, and Nielsen are examples of well-known third-party validation service providers.
Video ads take advantage of sight, sound, and motion to draw in viewers. They have become popular for building awareness, bringing in traffic, and generating leads. As with most formats, there are many forms of video ads. In-stream video ads play amidst video content, offer both skippable and non-skippable ad types, and most commonly come in :15 and :30 second formats (although longer-form versions are available with more constrained inventory availability). In-banner video is shown within display ads and is most impactful when placed in larger 300×600 ad units to allow for additional buttons and accompanying messaging, which can drive better user engagement and brand recognition. For more digital ad formats, see banner display ads, rich media, mobile ads, native ads, social ads, and connected TV (CTV).
Video Completion Rate (VCR)
A performance metric for video advertisements reflecting the percentage of digital video ads that play their full length. It is recommended that a VCR goal is paired with viewability, as some video content is autoplay and may be out of view, negating any video impact (since your ad must be seen to have impact).
Percentage of measured impressions that are seen by a user. This is an important metric, especially for brand advertising, because if an ad cannot be seen, it cannot influence the consumer. The industry uses the standard Media Ratings Council (MRC) definition, which is that display or video ads have 50% of pixels displayed on screen for 1 second or more. Viewability can be priced as a viewability goal or a viewability guarantee, with the latter priced as a vCPM (or “viewable” CPM). Viewability reporting provides percentages on “in-view,” “out-of-view,” and “non-measured” impressions. To better understand “non-measured” impressions, please see dark viewability.
“View” or “view-through” conversions are counted when a user has viewed an impression irrespective of if they clicked. View conversions can be attributed to numerous partners.