The Essential Digital Advertising Glossary: Navigating the Jargon

Just starting with digital advertising? You might bump into some new terms. Knowing these words helps in online advertising, and we’ve made a list to help you out.

To help you navigate, we’ve crafted this glossary of key programmatic terms.

Here, you’ll find concise definitions for some of the most prevalent digital marketing terminologies. For a deeper dive into each term, go to their dedicated pages!

Digital Advertising Glossary

Ad Exchange

An ad exchange operates as an online marketplace where advertisers seeking to display ads and publishers wanting to sell their ad space (termed as inventory) converge. Within this exchange, publishers list their available inventory, while advertisers place bids to secure that space.

Ad Fraud

Ad fraud, commonly referred to as click fraud, involves deceptive tactics where scammers artificially boost the number of impressions, clicks, or conversions for an ad campaign. Such actions drain the advertiser’s funds and unjustly profit the fraudster, often employing bots to execute this deceit.

Ad Inventory

Ad inventory, often referred to as media inventory, denotes the quantity of ad space a publisher, such as a website, possesses and is available for sale to advertisers.

Ad Network

An Ad Network – short for “advertising network” – is a platform that connects advertisers with publishers who have available digital ad space (also known as inventory). It serves as an intermediary, collecting unsold or remnant ad inventory from various publishers and offering this inventory to advertisers.

Ad Server

Ad servers provide the technological foundation enabling advertisers and publishers to oversee, deploy, and monitor ads across various advertising mediums, such as native, display, video, and more. These servers dynamically determine which ad to present on the advertising channel, factoring in relevance, targeting parameters, budget, and campaign objectives.

Audience Targeting

Audience targeting categorizes consumers into specific groups based on their interests or demographic characteristics. This method streamlines the process for advertisers to connect with more responsive audiences. Affinity segments and custom segments are notable examples of audience targeting.

Behavioral Targeting

Behavioral targeting employs a web user’s browsing history to determine the most relevant ads for them. By utilizing behavioral data, such as the websites a user frequents or the emails they open, ads are tailored to better align with individual preferences.

Bid Request and Response

A bid request is a code snippet that relays ad inventory specifics to the ad exchange, allowing advertisers to view available ad spaces. If an advertiser finds the inventory appealing, they can return a bid response indicating their interest.

Brand Lift Study

A brand lift study measures the effectiveness of digital campaigns over programmatic platforms. It offers insights into the attitudes and brand preferences of individuals who have encountered the advertisements.

Brand Safety

Brand safety is an approach ensuring that advertisements avoid placements that might danage their brand image or reputation. For instance, showcasing a children’s toy brand on a site promoting mature content would be a brand safety concern.

Click-Through Conversion (CTC)

Click-through conversions (CTC) measure the number of times a user views an ad, clicks it, and then completes a desired action during that session. CTC typically captures first-time clickers, making it valuable for monitoring immediate conversions without any prolonged engagement.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

A click-through rate (CTR) is a metric in digital advertising that represents the frequency with which users click an ad they’ve seen. It’s calculated by dividing the number of clicks an ad gets by the total number of times it is displayed. CTR = Clicks/Impressions

Connected TV (CTV)

A connected TV is a device either integrated into or connected to a television, enabling it to stream video content. CTV advertising involves delivering ads to audiences via these devices as they watch streaming content. For example, a smart TV, a gaming console, or a device like a Google Chromecast.

Contextual Advertising

Contextual advertising is a targeting approach that displays ads based on the content surrounding them on the web, ensuring that the ads are highly pertinent and reach the appropriate audience at the optimal time.


A cookie on a website is a small piece of data stored on a user’s web browser by the website they visit. Cookies allow the website to recognize a user’s device and remember certain information about their session or interactions, enabling functionalities like keeping users logged in, remembering preferences, or tracking user behavior for analytical or advertising purposes.

Cookieless Advertising

Cookieless advertising refers to digital advertising strategies that do not rely on browser cookies to target and track users. Given the growing concerns about privacy and data protection, and changes in regulations and browser policies, many traditional third-party cookies are being phased out. In response, marketers are exploring alternative methods for audience targeting, personalization, and measurement that don’t depend on cookies. These might include techniques like utilizing first-party data, contextual targeting, or relying on device IDs for mobile advertising. Cookieless advertising aims to balance user privacy with effective ad delivery and measurement.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is a metric that measures the average cost an advertiser pays for each specified acquisition or specific action, such as a sale, or form submission. CPA helps businesses determine the return on their advertising investment (ROI) by dividing the total cost of a campaign by the number of conversions it generated. It’s commonly used to assess the profitability of online advertising campaigns and to optimize marketing strategies for greater cost efficiency.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost Per Click (CPC) is a digital marketing metric used to determine the cost an advertiser pays each time a user clicks on their online advertisement. It’s the amount spent to get a single click from the advertisement. CPC is commonly associated with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platforms, such as Google Ads and Bing Ads, where advertisers bid for placement and are charged based on the number of clicks their ads receive.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)

Cost Per Mille (CPM), also known as Cost Per Thousand (with “mille” being the Latin word for thousand), is a digital marketing metric used to denote the price of 1,000 advertisement impressions on a single web page. If an advertiser agrees to a CPM deal, they will pay a predetermined amount for every 1,000 times their advertisement is displayed, regardless of how many clicks or conversions it receives. This metric is commonly used in display advertising and is focused on the reach of the advertisement rather than direct engagement or action by the viewer.

Cost Per Completed View (CPCV)

Cost Per Completed View (CPCV) is a digital advertising metric used to measure the cost an advertiser pays every time a video ad is viewed in its entirety. Instead of paying for impressions or partial views, advertisers using the CPCV model only pay when a viewer watches the entire length of their video advertisement. This metric ensures that advertisers are paying specifically for full engagement, making it particularly relevant for video ad campaigns where the complete message is crucial.

Cross-device targeting

Cross-device targeting refers to the strategy of advertising to a single user across multiple devices, such as smartphones, tablets, desktop computers, and connected TVs. The goal of cross-device targeting is to provide a consistent and unified advertising experience for users as they switch between devices throughout their day.

Demand-Side Platform (DSP)

A Demand-Side Platform (DSP) is a software system that allows advertisers, agencies, and ad networks to manage and purchase digital ad inventory from multiple ad exchanges and networks through a single interface. A DSP provides advertisers with the tools and technology to buy ad placements in a programmatic, automated manner.

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH)

Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) refers to digital advertising solutions used in outdoor or public spaces, as opposed to traditional out-of-home advertising like billboards and posters. DOOH includes digital billboards, electronic displays at bus stops, train stations, airports, shopping malls, and even interactive kiosks.

Display Advertising

Display Advertising refers to the process of advertising a product, service, or brand using visual ads that appear on websites, apps, and other digital platforms. These ads can take the form of banners, sidebars, video ads, interstitials, and other visual formats. They can include text, images, videos, and other multimedia elements to effectively convey a message.

Dynamic Retargeting

Dynamic Retargeting is an advanced form of online advertising that presents users with personalized ads based on their previous online activities, especially their interactions with products or services on a particular website. Unlike standard retargeting, where everyone is shown the same ad, dynamic retargeting customizes the ad content for each individual user.

First-Party Data

First-Party Data, in the context of advertising, refers to data that is collected directly by a business or organization from its audience or customers. This data is sourced from the interactions individuals have with the business’s own platforms, such as their website, mobile app, surveys, customer feedback, point of sale systems, and other direct engagements.

Frequency Capping

Frequency Capping refers to the practice of limiting (or “capping”) the number of times a specific ad is shown to a particular user within a set time frame on a digital platform. This is done to prevent overexposing the user to the same advertisement, which can lead to ad fatigue or annoyance, diminishing the ad’s effectiveness.


The concept of incrementality seeks to answer the question: “How many additional conversions did our advertising campaign drive that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t run the campaign?”

Incrementality refers to the lift or additional positive outcomes (like conversions, sales, or engagements) directly attributable to a specific marketing or advertising campaign, beyond what would have naturally occurred without that campaign.

In-Game Advertising

In-Game Advertising refers to the integration of advertising content directly within video games. These ads can appear in various formats, similar to other digital advertising methods, but are uniquely placed within the virtual gaming environment. The goal is to promote products or brands to players in a way that feels organic and non-intrusive to the gaming experience.

In-Stream Video

In-Stream Video refers to video ads that play within the context of online video content, usually before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) the main video content. These ads are typically seen on platforms like YouTube, and various news and entertainment websites that host video content.

Linear TV

Linear TV refers to traditional television programming where viewers watch shows, movies, news, and other content on a set schedule determined by broadcasters or networks. It’s the conventional TV model. With Linear TV, programs are aired at predetermined times, and viewers have to adhere to this schedule.

Multi-Channel Advertising

Multi-Channel Advertising refers to the strategy of promoting a product, service, or brand across multiple communication channels or platforms simultaneously. The aim is to reach potential customers wherever they spend their time, ensuring a broader reach and higher chances of engagement.

Native Advertising

Native Advertising refers to a type of advertising where the ad content closely matches the style, form, and function of the content of the platform on which it appears, making it appear less intrusive and more like a natural part of the user experience. The aim of native advertising is to provide content in the context of the user’s experience, making it feel less like an advertisement and more like an extension of the organic content.

Native Outstream Video

Native Outstream Video is a type of digital advertising format where video ads play outside of traditional video players, usually within the content of a webpage, particularly between paragraphs of text or in a content feed. Unlike instream video ads, which play before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) a primary video content in a video player, outstream video ads exist independently, nestled within written content or as standalone placements.

Private Marketplace (PMP)

Private Marketplace (PMP) is a type of programmatic digital advertising buying method. Unlike the open auction environment of a traditional ad exchange where any advertiser can bid on available inventory, a Private Marketplace is an exclusive, invitation-only marketplace where selected advertisers can bid on premium ad inventory from specific publishers.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic Advertising is an automated method of buying and optimizing digital advertising in real-time, typically facilitated by software platforms and algorithms. It uses data and technology to streamline the process of purchasing and displaying ads to specific target audiences, with the goal of delivering the right ad to the right person at the right time and in the right context.

Programmatic Audio

Programmatic Audio is a form of programmatic advertising that focuses on the automated buying and selling of audio advertising, typically in a real-time bidding (RTB) environment. It allows advertisers to deliver targeted audio advertisements to listeners across various digital audio platforms, such as streaming music services, internet radio, podcasts, and more.

Programmatic Direct

Programmatic Direct, also known as Automated Guaranteed or Programmatic Guaranteed, is a method of programmatic advertising that combines the automation of programmatic with the benefits of traditional direct sales. It’s a technology-driven approach that allows advertisers and publishers to negotiate and secure reserved ad inventory deals through automated platforms and workflows.

Programmatic Video

Programmatic Video is a subset of programmatic advertising that focuses on the automated buying and selling of video ad inventory across digital platforms, such as websites, mobile apps, and Connected TV. It enables advertisers to deliver targeted video advertisements to specific audiences based on factors like demographics, behavior, and contextual relevance.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB)

Real-Time Bidding (RTB) is a method of buying and selling digital advertising in real-time auctions, typically conducted within the milliseconds it takes for a web page to load. In RTB, advertisers bid on available ad impressions, and the highest bidder’s ad is instantly displayed to the user as the webpage loads.


Retargeting, also known as Remarketing, is a digital advertising strategy aimed at re-engaging users who have previously visited a website or interacted with a brand but did not complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or filling out a contact form. Retargeting leverages data tracking and cookies to display targeted ads to these users as they browse other websites or online platforms.

Supply-Side Platform (SSP)

A Supply-Side Platform (SSP) is a technology platform used by digital publishers and website owners to manage, automate, and optimize the sale of their advertising inventory (ad space) to advertisers in real-time auctions. SSPs are a critical component of the programmatic advertising ecosystem and enable publishers to maximize their revenue by efficiently selling their available ad space to the highest bidders.

Third-Party Data

Third-Party Data refers to data collected by entities other than the advertiser or publisher involved in a specific advertising transaction. It comes from external sources and is often used to enhance audience targeting, ad personalization, and campaign optimization. Third-party data providers collect and aggregate information from various sources to create detailed user profiles and segments.


Viewability is the measurement of whether an online ad was actually viewable by users and had the opportunity to be seen. It is an important metric for advertisers and publishers to assess the effectiveness of their display and video ad campaigns. Ad viewability is typically expressed as a percentage and indicates the proportion of ad impressions that meet specific viewability criteria.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), at least 50% of an ad must be in view for at least one second for display ads and two seconds for video ads for them to count as being “viewed.”

View-Through Conversion (VTC)

View-Through Conversion (VTC) is a metric that measures the effectiveness of display or video ad impressions in driving conversions, even if a user didn’t click on the ad directly. It tracks whether a user saw an ad (usually within a specified timeframe) and later completed a desired action, such as making a purchase, signing up, or downloading an app, without clicking on the ad at the time of viewing.

Video Completion Rate (VCR)

Video Completion Rate (VCR) is a digital advertising metric that measures the percentage of viewers who watch a video advertisement in its entirety, typically expressed as a percentage. It is used to assess the level of engagement and success of a video ad campaign and is an important indicator of viewer interest and ad effectiveness.