Digital Advertising Glossary for Marketers

Digital marketing and advertising move fast. Advances in technology and evolutions in consumer behavior bring about rapid changes in the way businesses reach their target audience. These days, marketers have developed their own language for communicating about digital advertising.

If acronyms like PPC and SERP have you checking Google on a regular basis, you are not alone. Keep reading for a comprehensive digital advertising glossary for marketers in 2020.

Digital advertising acronyms all marketers should know.

B2B: business to business. This business model refers to one business conducting commercial transactions with another business (ex: wholesale products or business services).

B2C: business to customer. This business model involves businesses selling to customers directly (ex: retail stores or ecommerce).

CAN-SPAM: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing. A law that sets the rules for commercial messages and emails; recipients have the right to opt out of emails.

CMS: content management system. Software applications or programs that create, manage, and distribute digital content, such as a website (ex: WordPress).

CPC: cost per click. Model for internet advertising where an advertiser pays the publisher whenever the ad is clicked.

CPL: cost per lead. The costs associated with generating a lead (includes advertising, collateral creation, web hosting, etc.).

CPA: cost per acquisition. Model for internet advertising where an advertiser pays for an acquisition (ex: registration or newsletter signup).

CPM: cost per mille. The cost a publisher charges to advertise on their platform per 1,000 ad impressions.

CR: conversion rate. Percentage of people who take action; calculated by taking the number of people who acted on an ad divided by the number who could have acted.

CTA: call to action. Device that is designed to promote an immediate response; the desired next step for users (ex: Learn More, Buy Now, or Sign Up).

CTR: click-through rate. Percentage of people who clicked on your ad; calculated by taking the number of clicks on an ad divided by the number of times an ad was shown.

CX: customer experience. All of the interactions a customer has with a company; every interaction that occurs throughout the buying process.

DDM: data-driven marketing. Making marketing decisions based on data to determine how to market, which channels to use, and who to target.

DMA: designated market area. Regions or locations that you target (ex: state, country, or county).

DSP: demand-side platform. Advertisers can use this technology to purchase display ad inventory across real-time bidding (RTB) networks; identify criteria, and the DSP places ad buys on your behalf.

eCP“x”: effective cost per “blank.” Determine average spend based on the total budget and the results of your digital ad campaign to understand effectiveness of your campaign.

GA: Google Analytics. A tool from Google to track and analyze traffic to your website, apps, or ads; data-driven tool that provides information on audience, reach, activity, and metrics.

GDN: Google Display Network. The network of more than 2 million websites that Google can show display ads on; able to reach more than 90% of internet users.

KPI: key performance indicators. Metrics that are used to evaluate the success of campaigns, ads, or marketing strategies; goals of a digital ad campaign and indicators of success.

MAP: marketing automation platform. Marketers use this technology to convert prospects or leads into customers; automated solutions remove manually repetitive processes (ex: MailChimp’s email campaign service or Marketo’s marketing automation software).

NPS: Net Promoter Score. Metric based on customer satisfaction survey to determine how likely consumers are to recommend your company to others; indicated on a scale of 0 to 10.

PPC: pay per click. Method for digital ads where publishers charge advertisers when an action is taken on an ad (ex: click).

PPV: pay per view. Ad model where an advertiser pays the publisher when their website or ad is displayed; ensures that videos, ads, or images are visible and 100% in view.

ROAS: return on ad spend. Metric to determine revenue received per dollar spent on an ad source; calculated by dividing generated revenue from a campaign by the cost of the campaign.

ROI: return on investment. Metric to determine revenue received per dollar spent on an investment (ex: sales lift or a direct sale).

RON: run of network. A channel that allows advertisers to deliver ads on a network that rotates ads; publisher may own multiple websites and the ad rotates within their network.

ROS: run of site. A channel that allows advertisers to deliver online ads on a specific website; rotation is not specific to a page but site-wide.

RPM: revenue per mille. Revenue received from 1,000 ad impressions; measured by ad publishers.

RTB: real-time bidding. Process by which ad inventory is sold on a CPM basis; auction-style that is instantaneous.

SEM: search engine marketing. Paid ads that appear on search engine results pages; based on the search criteria and keywords as well as max budget.

SEO: search engine optimization. Improving search rankings and visibility through organic, or non-paid, methods.

SERP: search engine results page. Displayed by a search engine when a query is made.

SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound. Criteria for defining goals for a marketing or ad campaign; method used to outline steps to achieve goals.

SMM: social media marketing. Utilizing paid and organic social media channels to promote a business on social media platforms.

SOV: share of voice. The percentage of time your ad is seen when compared to other advertisers.

UGC: user-generated content. Content created by users instead of a brand; shared online or via social media.

UI: user interface. Visual elements and aspects that users interact with when visiting a website or app; includes screens, pages, etc.

UX: user experience. Complete experience for a user when browsing a website or using an application; how they interact with the site; tested to improve conversion rates and ease of use.

VTC: view through click. A metric used to determine effectiveness of ad campaigns; achieved when a user views an ad but does not click, then later visits your website and converts.


Becoming familiar with the terms and concepts listed above can help you better understand digital marketing and make more effective advertising decisions. It will also help you stay up to date with the industry and create ad campaigns for your organization. There are even more terms and concepts out there to help you understand digital advertising, but this list is a great place to start.

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Sara Hanlon

Sara Hanlon is the President and co-founder of Peer Sales Agency. At Peer, she guides clients with sales-focused strategies that unlock revenue and helps them scale. She’s happy to ideate and orchestrate, providing solutions that move the needle.


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