Digital Advertising Glossary

3PAS (See also Third-Party Ad Server)

Outsourced, independent companies that specialize in managing, maintaining, serving, tracking and analyzing the results of online ad campaigns.


When a user actively chooses to not complete an online activity such as leaving an ecommerce website after placing items in a shopping cart yet not completing the transaction.


When a Web server does not successfully transfer a unit of content or ad to a browser. This is usually caused by a user hitting the stop button or clicking on another link prior to the completion of a download. In the case of a banner ad, the click will be counted with no view thru.

Activity Audit

Independent verification of measured activity for a specified time period, including ad impressions, page impressions, clicks, total visits and unique users.

Ad Audience

The number of unique users exposed to an ad within a specified time period.

Ad Banner

A graphic image or other media object used as an advertisement.

Ad Blocker

Software on a user’s browser which prevents advertisements from being displayed.

Ad Call

A user's browser asks an ad exchange or ad server to send an ad. The ad call includes information from browser cookies and ad tag information such as publisher ID, size, location, referring URL, etc

Ad Choices Icon

"Ad choices" is part of the Digital Advertising Alliance's (DAA) Self- Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising. The clickable icon associated with this program (technically named the "Advertising Option Icon") can be placed overtop of creatives in order to give consumers a better understanding of and greater control over ads that are customized based on their online behavior.

Ad Click

A measurement of the user-initiated action of responding to (such as clicking on) an ad element causing a re-direct to another Web location or another frame or page within the advertisement.

Ad Click Rate

Ratio of ad clicks to ad impressions; click-throughs divided by ad impressions.

Ad Display/Ad Delivered

When an ad is successfully displayed on the user's computer screen.

Ad Exchange

An ecosystem through which advertisers, publishers, and networks meet and do business on a unified platform or system. An ad exchange allows advertisers and publishers to speak the same language in order to exchange data, set prices, and ultimately serve an ad.

Ad Impression

1) An ad which is served to a user’s browser. Ads can be requested by the user’s browser (referred to as pulled ads) or they can be pushed, such as emailed ads.
2) A measurement of responses from an ad delivery system to an ad request from the user's browser, which is filtered from robotic activity and is recorded at a point as late as possible in the process of delivery of the creative material to the user's browser – therefore, closest to the actual opportunity to be seen by the user.

Two methods are used to deliver ad content to the user: server- initiated and client-initiated:
- Server-initiated ad counting uses the publisher's Web content server for making requests and formatting and re-directing content.
- Client-initiated ad counting relies on the user's browser to perform these activities.

Ad Network

Ad networks provide an outsourced sales capability for publishers and a means to aggregate inventory and audiences from numerous sources in a single buying opportunity for media buyers. Ad networks may provide specific technologies to enhance value to both publishers and advertisers, including unique targeting capabilities, creative generation, and optimization. Ad networks’ business models and practices may include features that are similar to those offered by ad exchanges.

Ad Request

The request for more information as a direct result of a user's action as recorded by the ad server - essentially the click on a banner ad

Ad Servers

Systems that deliver ads to websites, smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices. In it's most literal form, it is the last mechanism engaged prior to an ad being served in a browser; you could refer to this as the "ad server of record."

Ad Serving

The delivery of ads to an end user's computer on which the ads are then displayed by a browser and/or cached. Ad serving is normally performed either by a Web publisher, or by a third-party ad server. Ads can be embedded in the page or served separately via pop-ups.

Ad Tag

A piece of HTML on a webpage that will contact an ad server and ask for an ad. The tag informs the browser to open a small window (say, 468×60 pixels), and in that window place whatever content is returned from some location like×60&s. Here is an example JavaScript ad tag.

API (Application Programming Interface)

APIs are a set of programming instructions and standards that let developers access your a Web-based software application or tools. Companies provide APIs to their customers so that other software developers can design products that are powered by its service.

Aspect Ratio

The width-to-height ratio of a picture or video frame. TV broadcasts at a 4:3 (1.33:1) aspect ratio; digital TV will be broadcast with a 16:9 (1.78:1) ratio; and most feature films are shot in at least a 1.85:1 ratio. IMUs have an aspect ratio of 6:5 (330x 250; 336 x 280; and 180 x 150).


Credit given to an advertisement or website for a successful conversion.


A graphic image displayed on an HTML page used as an ad.

Behavioral Targeting

A targeting technique that enables site owners or ad networks to display content more relevant to the interests of the individual viewing the page based on their recent online actions. Behavioral targeting relies on information collected anonymously on an individual's web- browsing behavior, such as the pages they have visited, searches, clicks or other online actions they have made in order to select which advertisements to display to that individual.

Bot (see also robot or crawler)

Software that runs automatically without human intervention. Typically, a bot is endowed with the capability to react to different situations it may encounter. Two common types of bots are agents and spiders. Bots are used by companies like search engines to discover Web sites for indexing. Short for “robot.”


See Email Bounce


Memory used to temporarily store the most frequently requested content/files/pages in order to speed its delivery to the user. Caches can be local (i.e. on a browser) or on a network. In the case of local cache, most computers have both memory (RAM), and disk (hard drive) cache.

Cache Busting

The process by which sites or servers serve content or HTML in such a manner as to minimize or prevent browsers or proxies from serving content from their cache. This forces the user or proxy to fetch a fresh copy for each request. Among other reasons, cache busting is used to provide a more accurate count of the number of requests from users.

Click Fraud

Artificially inflated click activity on a campaign resulting from invalid clicks initiated by robotic means (spider, computer program, etc.) or manually by individuals to inflate reported clicks for a given ad.

Click-Thru (Click Through)

The action of following a hyperlink within an advertisement or editorial content to another Web site or another page or frame within the Web site.

Click-Thru Rate

A measurement of engagement with the display ad that is based on the frequency with which viewers click on the display ad units versus the number of times an ad was served (clicks as a percentage of impressions).

Contextual Targeting

The practice of buying online advertising based on where a particular ad appears, rather than on the consumer’s online behavior.

Conversion Rate

The % people who see an ad and take action (purchase, sign-up, opt- in/out, etc.) on it


A short line of text that a web site puts on a user’s computer hard drive when they access the web site to enable activity tracking during single or repeat visits to the site. Cookies are not harmful and are not viruses, and can be cleared from memory by users. There are two types of cookies:

- Persistent cookies remain on the user’s hard drive until the user erases them or until they expire.
- Session cookies are temporary and are erased when the browser exits

Crawler (See also bot or robot)

A web crawler (also known as an automatic indexer, bot, Web spider, Web robot) is a software program which visits Web pages in a methodical, automated manner.

This process is called Web crawling or spidering, and the resulting data is used for various purposes, including building indexes for search engines, validating that ads are being displayed in the appropriate context, and detecting malicious code on compromised web servers. Many web crawlers will politely identify themselves via their user-agent string, which provides a reliable way of excluding a significant amount of non-human traffic from advertising metrics. The IAB (in conjunction with ABCe) maintains a list of known user-agent strings as the Spiders and Bots list. However, those web crawlers attempting to discover malicious code often must attempt to appear to be human traffic, which requires secondary, behavioral filtering to detect. Most web crawlers will respect a file called robots.txt, hosted in the root of a web site. This file informs the web crawler which directories should and shouldn't be indexed, but does not enact any actual access restrictions. Technically, a web crawler is a specific type of bot, or software agent.

Cross Device (Cross-Platform or Cross-Screen)

Unified advertising across multiple devices (PCs, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, connected TVs.) “Cross-device” represents the most integrated form of modern, targeted advertising. Cross-device marketing involves the plan and sequence of a seamless cascade of messages and content across devices. Every aspect complements the other parts.

Data Management Platform (DMP)

A Data Management Platform (DMP) is a system that allows the collection of audience intelligence by advertisers and ad agencies, thereby allowing better ad targeting in subsequent campaigns.

Demand Side Platform (DSP)

A demand side platform (DSP), also called buy side optimizer and buy side platform is a technology platform that provides centralized and aggregated media buying from multiple sources including ad exchanges, ad networks and sell side platforms, often leveraging real time bidding capabilities of these sources.

Demographic Targeting

The practice of serving ads to consumers based on such factors as age, sex, location, and ethnicity.

Display Advertising

A form of online advertising where the advertiser‘s message is shown on a destination web page, generally set off in a box at the top or bottom or to one side of the content of the page.

DMAs - Designated Marketing Area (or District Metered Areas)

DMAs are defined geographic regions of people who can receive the same content. It is also commonly specified in audience measurement and marketing tools. Applies to the US only


The unique name that identifies an internet site. Each domain name is comprised of one high-level and one or more lower-level designator. Top-level domains (TLDs) are either generic or geographic. Generic top- level include: .com (commercial), .net (network), .ed (educational), .org (organizational, public or non-commercial), .gov (governmental), .mil (military), .biz (business), etc. Geographic domains designate countries of origin such as .us (United States), .uk (United Kingdom), .de (Germany), etc.


Estimated cost per 1000 impressions. eCPM = (Media Cost / Impressions) x 1,000.

Email Bounce

An e-mail that cannot be delivered to the mailbox provider and is sent back to the e-mail Service Provider that sent it. A bounce is classified as either “hard” or “soft.” Hard bounces are the failed delivery of e- mail due to a permanent reason, such as a non-existent address. Soft bounces are the failed delivery of e-mail due to a temporary issue, such as a full inbox or an unavailable ISP server.

Exchange (See also Ad Exchange)

A service that conducts an auction among bidders per impression


An ad or content that is viewable as soon as the Web page arrives. One does not have to scroll down (or sideways) to see it.

Frame Rate

The number of frames of video displayed during a given time. The higher the frame rate, the more high-quality the image will be.


The number of times an ad is delivered to the same individual/ browser in a single session or time period. A site can use cookies in order to manage ad frequency.

Frequency Capping

A practice that limits the number of times an advertising message exposure (ad impression) can be billed to buyers within a campaign and/or over a specified period of time.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

A graphic format which uses compression to store and display images.

GRP (gross rating point) Metrics

Measures the size of an audience reached by a specific media vehicle or schedule. Specifically, GRPs quantify impressions as a percentage of the population reached rather than in absolute numbers reached.

iFrame (Inline Frame)

An HTML iframe tag 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 and "take over" the screen.

In-Banner Video Ads

Video ads which play within the ad unit or in the expandable part of the ad unit and don’t require a video window or player to load to watch.

In-stream video

In-stream video creatives are played in video players on web pages. They use VAST XML to ensure proper rendering in players and are shown before, in the middle of, or after other video content.

IP Address

Internet protocol numerical address assigned to each computer on the network so that its location and activities can be distinguished from other computers

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

A file format that uses a compression technique to reduce the size (number of bytes) of graphic files.


The % increase in performance due to advertising or marketing efforts.


Ad inventory with relatively low number of users (e.g. most blogs) or less desirable users (very young, minimal disposable income, etc.). The longtail can be difficult to monetize.

Lookalike Modeling

A technique that helps build larger audiences from smaller audience segments. Audiences included in a lookalike model share similar characteristics of the original audience segment. Lookalike modeling helps advertisers expand reach, but sacrifice accuracy as segment size increases.


The act of a user moving the cursor and resting it on the hot spot of an ad for at least one second. Mouse-over may trigger an event such as expanding the ad or initiating an animated sequence within the ad. Mouse-over may NOT initiate audio play.

Native Advertising

Paid advertising designed to blend in with editorial content.


Refers to an individual giving a company permission to use data collected from or about the individual for a particular reason.

Page View or Page Impression

A request to load a single page of an Internet site. A page request would result from a web surfer clicking on a link on another HTML page pointing to the page in question. This should be contrasted with a hit, which refers to a request for a file from a web server. There may be many hits per page view since a page can be made up of multiple files.


Picture element (single illuminated dot) on a computer monitor.

Pixel Tracking/Tags

A strategically placed 1x1 pixel image that is served to an advertiser’s Web site, enabling you to know which pages a computer user has accessed. They can be placed on the home page, downloads, registration page, sales confirmation page, etc.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic Advertising is the automation of the buying and selling of desktop display, video, FBX, and mobile ads using real-time-bidding. Programmatic describes how online campaigns are booked, flighted, analyzed, and optimized via demand-side software (DSP) interfaces and algorithms.

Programmatic Buying

Buying through automated means, for example, by setting up a campaign in an RTB exchange or other automated system. This is opposed to more manual buys where you are in contact with a sales


team, or other "offline" mechanism.

Proxy Servers

Intermediaries between end users and Web sites such as ISPs, commercial online services, and corporate networks. Proxy servers hold the most commonly and recently used content from the Web for users in order to provide quicker access and to increase server security.

Purchase Models

Display Advertising is typically purchased on a CPM basis. However, depending on the advertiser’s objectives and measurement, other potential purchase models include:
- Cost-per-thousand (CPM) - Media term describing the cost of 1,000 impressions.

- Cost-per-click (CPC) – payment based on clicks generated
- Cost-per-lead (CPL) – Cost of advertising based on the number of database files (leads) received.
- Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) – Payments based on conversion/purchase.
- Cost-per-action (CPA) - Cost of advertising based on a visitor taking some specifically defined action in response to an ad. "Actions" include such things as a sales transaction, a customer acquisition, or a click.
- Cost-per-order (CPO) Cost of advertising based on the number of orders received. Also called Cost-per Transaction.
- Cost-per-sale (CPS) The advertiser's cost to generate one sales transaction. If this is being used in conjunction with a media buy, a cookie can be offered on the content site and read on the advertiser's site after the successful completion of an online sale.


Total quantity of unique users that visit a particular site or group of sites (network) over the course of the reporting period expressed as a percent of the universe for the demographic category; also called unduplicated audience.

Real-time buying/bidding (RTB)

The RTB acronym indicates a real-time system for either bidding on or buying ad inventory. The initial RTB ecosystems evolved from the efforts of DSPs to create a more efficient exchange of inventory. Due to these roots, RTB ecosystems put significant emphasis on user information (demographic and behavioral data, for example), while discounting the situation information (the publisher and context).


Serving ads across the web and other platforms to consumers who have previously visited an advertiser’s website.

Rich Media

A method of communication that incorporates animation, sound, video, and/or interactivity. It can be used either singularly or in combination with the following technologies: streaming media, sound, and Flash, and with programming languages such as Java, JavaScript, and DHTML.

Rising Stars

A set of interactive rich media creative types defined by the IAB. They include Billboard, Filmstrip, Slider, Portrait, Pushdown, and Sidekick. See examples at the IAB website. There is also a set of Mobile Rising Star ad units, which include Filmstrip, Pull, Adhesion Banner, Full Page Flex, and Slider.

Robot (see also robot or crawler)

A program that runs automatically without human intervention. Typically, a robot is endowed with some artificial intelligence so that it can react to different situations it may encounter. Two common types of robots are agents and spiders.


A program that automatically fetches Web pages. Spiders are used to feed pages to search engines; called a spider because it crawls over the Web. A spider can start almost anywhere because most Web pages contain links to other pages. As soon as it sees a link to another page, it goes off and fetches it. Large search engines have many spiders working in parallel.

Supply Side Platform (SSP)

SSP is a company or service that provides ad space to demand-side platforms in real time. SSPs often aggregate supply from publishers.

Target Reach

The number of unique persons who were reached by the campaign within the targeted demographic (gender, age, HHI).

Third Party Ad Server

Outsourced, independent companies that specialize in managing, maintaining, serving, tracking and analyzing the results of online ad campaigns.

Unique Visitor

Unique individual or browser which has accessed a site or application and has been served unique content and/or ads such as e-mail, newsletters, interstitials or pop-under ads. Unique visitors can be identified by user registration, cookies, or third-party measurement like ComScore or Nielsen. Reported unique visitors should filter out bots. See for the audience reach measurement guidelines.


Video Ad Serving Template. This is an XML-based video ad serving protocol. It was created to provide a uniform way for video content to be transferred from ad servers to video players on web pages. For details, see the Interactive Advertising Bureau's VAST documentation at


The duration of time an ad plays while partially in view (minimal 50% of the ad on the page).


Video Ad Serving Template. This is an XML-based video ad serving protocol. It was created to provide a uniform way for video content to be transferred from ad servers to video players on web pages. For details, see the Interactive Advertising Bureau's VAST documentation at