Digital Advertising Terms You Should Know, Part I

Communicate with Your Marketing Team Without Getting Lost in Translation

digital advertising terms

How many digital advertising terms do you know? Like any industry, marketing has its terms and jargon that can leave the layman feeling confused and disinterested. It happens to the best of us. When you’re trying to wrap your mind around something as complex as digital marketing can be, the last thing you need is a jargon-heavy description to lose you completely.

When we meet with a client, we do our best to ad-splain some of the more common digital advertising terms, but having a glossary comes in handy. After all, you wouldn’t visit a foreign country without understanding some of the key phrases, right?

Here’s a very comprehensive list of digital advertising terms that will help anyone get on the same wavelength as marketing geeks like us.

A/B Testing: This method compares different versions of digital ads or landing pages to see which performs better. Typically, two ads are run simultaneously then compared side-by-side to which got the best response.


Above the Fold: The area of a web page that’s visible before the user scrolls down. Think of a newspaper: above the fold refers to the section of the front page that resides north of the fold. It’s prime real estate because that’s the section that readers see in the coinbox, so editors use the most important content to entice someone to buy the paper.

There’s no specific pixel size for the “fold” on a web page. It depends on the user’s screen size and resolution.


Account-based Advertising (ABM): Serves display advertising only to specified job titles at the designated target accounts. So, if you wanted to advertise your new accounting software, you would target a company’s accountants or finance executives rather than their marketing team or customer service specialists.


Ad Audience: The total number of people who are exposed to or could potentially be exposed to an ad during any specific time period.


Ad Banner: The most common digital ad type. Includes static graphics, videos and/or interactive rich media, and display on a web page or in an application.


Ad Click: The action taken when a user interacts with an ad by either clicking on it with their mouse or by pressing enter on their keyboard. 


Ad Exchange: Traditionally, buying ad inventory involved advertisers and publishers negotiating prices in order to show ads on a website. With an Ad Exchange, internet publishers and advertisers buy and sell ad inventory in real-time auctions across the internet with instantaneous bidding.


Ad Impressions: Also referred to as simply impressions, represents the number of times an ad is served, whether or not the user has actually seen or interacted with the ad.


Ad Inventory: The number of ads that a website publisher can potentially serve to its visitors. A website with two available spaces for display ads and an average of 1,000 weekly visits has a potential ad inventory of 2,000 weekly impressions.


Ad Network: A vendor acts as a single point of contact between advertisers and publishers to negotiate supply and demand.


Ad Serving: Delivering an ad from a web server to the end user’s device, where the ads display on a browser or an application.


Ad Targeting: Delivering ads to a pre-selected audience based on various attributes, such as geography, demographics, psychographics, web browsing behavior, and past purchases.


Ad Unit: The specified size and format for an ad. See this set of ad size guidelines from The Interactive Advertising Bureau.


Affiliate Marketing: An agreement where the website publisher receives compensation for every click delivered and/or every sale made of the advertiser’s product or service.


Analytics: Data and statistics about how users interact with a website. This information is used to target audiences, understand consumer behavior, improve user experience, and optimize advertising campaigns.


Attribution: Identifies which touch is most (or partially) responsible for a conversion to help calculate ROI. Common Attributions include First Touch, Last Touch, and Multi Touch. Consider a sale that begins with an ad, which leads to an email campaign, and ends with a sales call. For First Touch, the ad gets the entire credit for the sale. With Last Touch, the phone call gets all the credit. With Multi Touch, each Attribution gets partial credit.


Bounce Rate: A bounce is a website visit in which the visitor looked only at the single page they landed on, did not interact with it, and then left the site within a specific time frame.


Brand Awareness: The extent or level to which a potential consumer can recall and identify a particular product or service. Digital advertising campaigns are ideal for increased brand awareness.


Browser: A software program that allows users to browse the internet. Examples include Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.


Call to Action (CTA): Either a phrase within an ad, or a graphic element such as a button, which invites the user to take a certain action. Tracking CTA is an important element in determining ad effectiveness and conversion rates.


Channel: In digital advertising, a channel is a method to distribute information to reach an audience, such as display advertising, social media advertising, and mobile in-app advertising.


Click-through Rate (CTR): A percentage of total impressions that shows how often people click on an ad that they are served. Calculate CTR by dividing ad clicks by the number of times the ad was served, then converting the quotient into a percentage.


Contextual Targeting: Selecting audiences based on the type of content that displays on a particular web page.


Conversion: Each time a user takes a specific action related to the ad campaign, such as signing up for a newsletter or making an online purchase.


Conversion Pixel: Typically, a transparent, 1×1 pixel image on a web page that’s triggered by a conversion.


Conversion Rate: A percentage that is calculated in two ways:

  • Divide the number of users who completed the conversion by the total number of impressions served
  • Divide the number of users who completed the conversion by the total number of users who clicked on the ad


Conversion Tracking: Monitor the conversions during a specific time period, and determine which ads led to the conversions.


Cookie: Information stored on a visitor’s browser that tracks his/her movement on a specific website to remember the visitor’s behavior and preferences.


Copy: Ad text, or text written for audible delivery.


Cost-Per-Acquisition: The cost(s) associated with acquiring one customer.


Cost-Per-Click (CPC): Average cost an advertiser pays for each ad click.


Click here for Part II of our Digital Advertising Terms glossary!