Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

Online Advertising and Ad Tech Glossary

The AppNexus Online Advertising and Ad Tech Glossary provides definitions of common and important terms relating to online advertising, ad tech, and ad trading. 

Jump to a Glossary Section

A-C

acquisition
When a user signs up, makes a purchase, or performs some other desired action in response to an ad displayed on the Internet. Also called a conversion or action. See also CPA.

ad agency
A company that provides services such as planning, creating, buying, and tracking advertisements and ad campaigns on behalf of a client.  Often, people confuse media agencies, which are allocators of marketers' spending across channels – with creative agencies, which are responsible for the creation of actual ads and campaign content. 

ad call
When an open slot of ad space is available on the Internet, a user's browser sends requests to ad exchanges or ad servers to send an ad. This request is known as an ad call. Ad calls include information from browser cookies and ad tag information such as publisher ID, size, location, referring URL, and other specifications and data needed for the ad to serve. See also ad tag

AdChoices Icon
"AdChoices" is part of the Digital Advertising Alliance (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. See the icon and read more at the DAA's website.

ad exchange
An ad trafficking system through which advertisers, publishers, and networks meet and do business via a unified platform. An ad exchange allows advertisers and publishers to use the same technological platform, services, and methods, and "speak the same language" in order to exchange data, set prices, and ultimately serve an ad.

ad network
A company that serves as a broker between a group of publishers and a group of advertisers. Networks traditionally aggregate unsold inventory from publishers in order to offer advertisers a consolidated and generally less expensive pool of impressions, but they can have a wide variety of business models and clients. In the context of ad trafficking and ad tech, the term "network" is generally taken to mean an ad network. 

ad server 
The computer or group of computers responsible for actually serving creatives to websites, or for making decisions about what ads will serve. An ad server may also track clicks on ads and other data. Major publishers, networks, and advertisers sometimes have one or more of their own ad servers. For example, AppNexus offers several types of ad servers, each with different capabilities and features. 

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 place whatever content is returned from some location (like http://ad.adserver.com/imp?Z=468×60&s) in that window. Note that ad tags are related, but not identical, to placements, which are actually part of the information embedded into ad tags. Here is an example JavaScript ad tag:

ad unit
A single unit of ad space. Sometimes used instead of placement or ad tag

ad targeting
Ad targeting is the practice of targeting ad content to user and contextual data. Ad targeting can involve demographic targeting such as gender, age, or geographical region (when available), as well as behavioral data such as recent pages visited or searches completed. Often known just as "targeting" in online advertising. 

advertiser
An entity that shows its creatives on publisher web pages in order to enhance brand awareness, induce the user to make a purchase, etc.

agency
See ad agency.

API
An API, or application programming interface, is a programming method used to interact with software, applications, or tools. APIs provide a simplified querying language that allows consumers or developers to access underlying databases and hardware without disrupting stability or reliability, and without knowledge of underlying programming languages. They may be based on a variety of programming languages and models, but the types of APIs used by consumers to interact with Web-based software or apps are often known as SOAP or REST services, which consist of a set of specifications for remote calls that enable consumers to interact with data and systems without the risk of disrupting their function. For example, AppNexus uses a RESTful API to facilitate interaction with its Web-based software. 

attribution
Attribution refers to how to determine which advertisement was responsible for triggering a conversion or acquisition – literally which ad is attributed with having caused the conversion. The most common attribution model is last view/last click. As ad tech advances, other models of attribution are also being used. Also called conversion attribution. 

backfill
Inventory that is not pre-sold, also known as remnant inventory. Can also refer to one ad network filling unsold inventory for another ad network.

banner ad
A basic image or flash display ad, rather than a rich media unit.

behavioral data
Information collected from a users' online actions, for example, things they’ve searched for in the past and types of website they frequent. Advertisers sometimes use this type of data in their campaigns to match relevant users with their offers. Data privacy laws ban the collection of information that is deemed to be "personally identifiable," such as physical addresses, credit card numbers, and social security/taxpayer ID numbers (among other things) without the permission of the individual.  

bidder
A bidder is a piece of technology that uses proprietary code and algorithms to analyze bid requests and respond with bids and creatives in real-time auctions. For example, AppNexus hosts a bidder that represents AppNexus Console clients’ buy-side settings.

bidding strategy
A bidding strategy is the way a buyer calculates a bid in an ad auction. It can mean bidding a flat CPM or bidding a variable price based on past clickthrough or conversion rates.

bid request
A request sent to a bidder that asks it to return a bid for a given impression. Bid requests include data points about the user and the impression being sold.

blacklist
A list of domains or apps that a buyer does not want to buy ad space on.

brand
A company's product line and the image and reputation of that line. Many stakeholders in the ad tech industry have guidelines or requirements for the use of branding in creatives. Can also refer to a specific company name, such as Coke, Target, Honda, and so on. 

campaign
In advertising, a campaign is a set of media that has a shared themes and ideas to market a specific brand, product, or concept. An online advertising campaign is simply an ad campaign that focuses only on web and/or mobile media that dictates a buying strategy for purchasing Web or mobile inventory. Most campaigns also include criteria such as a specific start and end date, daily or overall budgets, frequency restrictions, and targeting based on user or inventory data.

CDN
Content delivery network. A CDN delivers static content, such as creative image or flash files. Usually, CDN providers have servers across the globe configured to deliver content as quickly as possible, which is why it's typical for ad servers to rely on them.

click log
A server-side log of predefined information gathered when when a user clicks on an ad.

click-through rate
See CTR

click URL
If a publisher is being paid on a CPC basis and wants to track clicks, they can provide click-tracking URL where it is possible to ping them each time a user clicks on an ad. Click URLs can also be used by to record clicks en route to a landing page. See also  publisher click-tracking

cloud
In general, a computing cloud is a networked group of servers accessible through remote means. In ad tech, this usually refers refers to cloud computing infrastructure on which an ad platform of some kind runs. Data or processes existing within such a network is sometimes said to be "in the cloud". 

container tag
See tag container.

contextual data
Information on the contents of the webpage that a user is viewing upon ad call, usually used for ad targeting. For example, if the user is viewing a newspaper article about travel, an airline may wish to display on that page. See also  semantic targeting . This is distinct from  user data .

conversion
When a user signs up, makes a purchase, or performs some other desired action in response to an ad. Also called an acquisition or action, especially to distinguish conversions/acquisitions from clicks in payment methods (CPC vs. CPA).

conversion attribution
See attribution

conversion funnel
This describes the path a consumer takes from seeing an ad or otherwise hearing about a brand or concept (the broad end of the funnel) to possibly navigating an e-commerce website and finally taking a desired action such as making a purchase (the narrow end of the funnel). In a simplistic example, many users see an ad, fewer click, fewer visit a site, fewer purchase. Various stages of the funnel may be used as a proxy for measuring the effectiveness of advertising, and funnel events do not need to be linear.

conversion pixel
A pixel that fires when a user "converts" by clicking on a ad, registering, making a purchase, or completing another action. Advertisers can place conversion pixels on a landing page, registration page, checkout pages, or elsewhere to track conversions. 

cookie
A parcel of text sent by a server to the cookie file in a browser and then sent back unchanged by the client each time it accesses that server. HTTP cookies are used for authenticating, session tracking, and storing information about specific users, such as site preferences or buying habits. Advertisers often use cookies to track the number and frequency of advertisements that have been shown. See also first-party cookies and third-party cookies.

cost plus
A payment model in which advertisers agree to pay the cost of media plus an additional CPM or % profit margin on top.

CPA
Cost per action/acquisition. A payment model in which advertisers pay for every action, such as a sale or registration, completed as a result of a visitor clicking on their advertisement. Note that an "acquisition" is the same as a "conversion".

CPI
Cost per install.  A payment model in which mobile advertisers pay each time a user installs their app.

CPC
Cost per click. A payment model in which advertisers pay each time a user clicks on their advertisement.

CPM
Cost per mille, or thousand (mille = thousand in Latin). A pricing model in which advertisers pay for every 1000 impressions of their advertisement served. This is the standard basic pricing model for online advertising. See also CPC and CPA.

CPVM
Cost per mille, or thousand, viewable impressions (mille = thousand in Latin). A pricing model in which advertisers pay for every 1000 viewable impressions of their advertisement served. Viewability refers to whether an impression was actually seen by the user, and can be determined according to a variety of methods. 

creative
The actual graphical advertisement itself. Common creative formats include GIF, JPEG, JavaScript, HTML, and Flash.

creative tag
Similar to an ad tag, this is a snippet of code that gives the location of the creative, which is usually a content delivery network (CDN) or an ad server.

CSV
Comma separated values. A data file structured in a table form with fields separated by commas. This is one file format used to transmit multiple creative tags during bulk sending.

CTR
Click-through rate - literally, the rate or frequency at which users click through to a  landing page  from an ad.

D-L

DAA
The Digital Advertising Alliance. An online advertising industry association, made up of many other organizations, and dedicated to self-regulation. Possibly best known for the Advertising Option Icon. Read more on the DAA's website.

daisy chain
When the linking of several ad tags, usually from different exchanges, ad servers, or ad networks, creates a "waterfall"  – or "daisy chain" – of impressions passing from tag to tag. If no creative is found via the demand available to Ad Tag 1, the impression can be passed to Ad Tag 2, Ad Tag 3, and Ad Tag 4 to see if demand is available there, and so on until a creative is found and served. 

data management platform
In ad tech, a data management platform (DMP) is a centralized system for gathering first-party data, integrating with third-party data, and applying this data to one's advertising strategy. A DMP may offer the following features: estimating the likely reach for a user segment, measuring the lift from using data, acting as a financial clearing house between data buyers and sellers, and assisting publishers in monetizing data on their users. DMPs most commonly work with user data but may also work with contextual data, or other types of data.

data provider
A business that provides data about users. Advertisers can use the information to better target users. This data may include enriched user data or contextual data that exchanges, ad servers, or ad networks may not gather or manage in-house, but use in ad targetingData privacy laws ban the collection of information that is deemed to be " personally identifiable ," such as physical addresses, credit card numbers, and social security/taxpayer ID numbers (among other things) without the permission of the individual.

decisioning
The automated process by which an ad server, ad platform, or exchange literally decides where, how, and to whom to serve an ad. This can be based on an auction prioritizing certain kinds of online ad space, prioritizing advertisers based on relationships and prior agreements, or other methods. 

deduplication
Sometimes known as "deduping" – means removing duplicate entries or events in a data set. Effective programmatic buying is dependent on getting accurate and useful data sets, and deduplication is often a step in that process. For example, if a user clicks twice on the same creative but these two actions are only linked to a single conversion, it's possible to dedupe the associated data set to prevent it from counting second clicks.

default creative 
A default creative is a creative that runs as a backup in an open Internet ad space, in the case that no other creatives are available. A default creative can be a literal creative, say an in-house ad, or it can be a redirect in the form of a third-party ad tag to a third-party ad server. A default creative may also be called a "reserve creative."

default tag 
If no impression can be found for an ad opportunity, a default tag may be served. The tag is passed to a third-party  ad server  to see if demand can be found there (this happens in the case of daisy chaining) or to simply pull a creative from that server. Sometimes called a passback.

demand
Advertising demand, or the desire to buy ad space and display creatives.

demand side platform (DSP)
A company that allows advertising clients to buy digital media on several different selling systems, or exchanges, through one interface. For more information about this process, see bidder

direct response
A term applied to marketing or advertising that is designed to solicit a direct response which is specific and quantifiable. In online display advertising, examples of this can include clicking on an ad, making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, and so on. 

display advertising
Online advertising is often divided into "display" and "search." Display ads are images and search is text based. Display ads, sometimes referred to as banners, come in standardized ad sizes, and can include text, logos, pictures, or rich media.

Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
An independent nonprofit organization of "data-driven marketers" whose stated mission is to "advance and protect responsible data-driven marketing". For more information, see the DMA website

direct media buy
A pre-brokered agreement between an advertiser and publisher to deliver a certain amount of specific inventory for a preset cost. 

DMA
Designated market area or demographic metropolitan area. A geographic area originally defined as a group of counties that made up a cohesive television market. May also stand for the Direct Marketing Association

DMA OBA compliance
The Direct Marketing Association has been heavily involved in creating guidelines for online behavioral advertising (OBA), or advertising to people surfing the Internet based on their past browsing history. For more information, see the DMA Website.

DMP
See data management platform.

DR
See direct response.

DSP
See demand side platform.

dynamic creative
Many advertisers wish to show different ads to different customers; for example, an advertiser might wish to show rain gear to people who live in rainy climates and sunblock to those who live in sunny climates. Dynamic creatives refers to having a few different creatives and choosing the most appropriate one for the user through some automated means such as audience segmentation or based on frequency and recency. Many platforms have rules about how much creatives can vary within the same placement – for example, there may be limitations on rotating brands. 

dynamic pricing
Purchase pricing for an ad impression that is determined via real-time bidding (RTB) rather than a predetermined rate.

eCPA
Effective Cost Per Acquisition. This is calculated by dividing your cost (or revenue) by the number of conversion events. Shows how much is spent in CPA when payouts are measured using another pricing model. 

eCPC
Effective Cost Per Click. A translation from CPM, CPC, CPA, and other pricing models so that they can be compared. Shows how much is spent in CPC when payouts are measured using another pricing model. 

eCPM
Effective Cost Per Thousand. A translation from CPM, CPC, CPA , and any other pricing models so they can be compared. Shows how much is spent in CPM when payouts are measured using another pricing model. 

engagement metrics
In online advertising, engagement metrics are the metrics used to measure consumers' engagement with the ads they encounter online. Engagement metrics are used by digital media buyers to gauge the effectiveness of their advertising. This is most easily done by direct marketers who use CPA buying strategies, but there are a variety of other ways to measure the impact of ads via engagement. Some possible engagement metrics include whether a user has watched an entire video ad, if a user hovers over a creative with a mouse, and whether a user has clicked on an ad. More generally, the term engagement metrics may also be applied to a range of online behaviors, such as how long a visitor spends on a website.

Exchange
See ad exchange.

expandable ad
Rich media creatives that can be enlarged beyond the initial dimensions of the placements they fill on web pages.

first-party cookies
Cookies that use the domain of the website a user is currently on. For example, if you visit www.mysite.com and the domain of the cookie is www.mysite.com, then this is a first-party cookie. First-party cookies are usually used for login, user experience, and retargeting purposes. See also third-party cookies.

first touch
An attribution model in which gives credit for the first impression a user saw. This may be used as an alternative to the last view/last click model, which gives credit for the last viewed or clicked ad. 

flight 
The lifetime of a campaign, from its start date to its end date. A campaign can also have no flight dates and continue indefinitely. A campaign that is active is said to be "in flight".

frequency
How often an ad is shown in a certain period, such as a single browsing session or a 24 hour period. Advertisers often want to limit frequency to avoid showing an ad to the same user too often, also known as overexposure. See also recency.

frequency capping
The act of limiting, or "capping" how often a particular creative can be served to a user. For example, an advertiser might use frequency capping to ensure that an ad could be shown to the same user no more than three times per 24 hours. See also recency capping

guaranteed inventory
Inventory consisting of impressions sold ahead of time, rather than in a real-time auction via real-time bidding. Called guaranteed because the publisher signs a contract with an agency committing to deliver the specified impressions in exchange for an agreed-upon sum. If the guarantee is not met, the agency will often request a “make-good,” usually in the form of a credit. See also  premium  inventory. 

ID synching
See  user ID mapping.

iframe
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.

impression 
A creative served to a single user at a single point in time. Sometimes called an "imp".

in-banner video
In-banner video is a type of creative played in a standard banner rather than in a video player. Any banner placement may accommodate an in-banner video creative, if allowed by the publisher. 

in-stream video
In-stream video is a type of creative played in video players on Web pages. This creative type uses VAST XML to ensure proper rendering in players and are shown before, in the middle of, or after other video content.

instance
Also called a virtual machine, virtual operating system, or virtual server, an instance is an individual guest operating system that runs on top of a virtualization layer on top of a physical server. Instances are the building blocks of cloud computing.

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
An online ad industry association focused on the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace whose stated goal is to educate "marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising". Read more at the IAB's website.

interstitial ad
An ad that displays as a user navigates from one web page to the next. The ad fills the browser window after the user leaves the initial page, but before the target page displays on the user’s screen.

inventory
Open digital spaces in which ads can be served and displayed. Publishers sell ad inventory.

JSON
JavaScript Object Notation is a lightweight data-interchange format based on a subset of JavaScript. JSON is a programming language often used for APIsIt is a language-independent text format that uses conventions from the C-family, including C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, Perl, and Python. A JSON object looks something like this:

landing page
The page to which a user is directed after clicking on an ad. For example, if a user clicks on a Cheese of the Month ad, they may be directed to cheeseofthemonth.com, or to cheeseofthemonth.com/signupnow or some other landing page chosen by the advertiser. The landing page may be slightly different from the click URL.

last click
A type of attribution model that pays out on the last impression that was clicked on by the user. This may be used as an alternative to the first touch model, which gives credit for the first impression a user saw.

last view
A type of attribution model that pays out on the last impression that was viewed by the userThis may be used as an alternative to the  first touch   model, which  gives credit for the first impression a user saw.

lift
The percent increase in performance (measured in ROI, CPC, CPA, etc.) that can be attributed to advertising (or some other marketing endeavor).

longtail 
Ad inventory with relatively low exposure or limited users, such as a personal blog with a very low number of followers, or numerous less desirable users, such as people who are very young, have minimal disposable income, or other factors that would make them unlikely consumers of a product or service. The longtail can be difficult to monetize.

lookback window
An amount of time taken into account when collecting data to be used for attributing conversions, a bid optimization model, or anything else. Common lookback windows are a day, 14 days, 30 days, etc.

M-R

marketer
Generally a large advertiser that manages at least some of its own digital advertising. Also called a direct marketer.

media plan
A holistic view of a given advertiser's media buys. Often managed by a media agency

mediation
The process of sending  bid requests to ad buyers outside of the AppNexus exchange via a client or server side redirecti on , with passbacks in case the buyer doesn’t fill the impression . Mediation enables access to additional ad networks to maximize fill rates. There are two main categories of mediation: web mediation and mobile mediation

mediated ad network
An ad network  that sits outside of RTB auctions for online inventory, but participates in auctions alongside real-time bidders and direct advertisers by setting up proxy “bids”
that  represent that network’s demand.  

metadata
Metadata is data about data. Metadata can be used to do things like label creatives or ad inventory with information like brand, size, and other constraints or data. 

mobile device ID
A unique identifier for a mobile device. The device ID cannot be linked to personally identifiable information (PII).  Different operating systems use different identifiers: IDFA (iOS), AAID (Android), and Windows Advertising ID (Windows).

mobile mediation
Mobile mediation typically involves server-to-server requests via two systems to determine if the buyer has an ad, or embedding an ad network’s SDK within your SDK to make calls to the buyer’s ad server.  

MRAID
Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions (MRAID) is a common API (Application Programming Interface) for mobile rich media ads that will run in mobile apps

NAI
Network Advertising Initiative. An online advertising industry association focused on consumer education about online behavioral advertising (OBA). Read more at the NAI website.

native advertising
Advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears, for example, the ad search term responses at the head of Google search results, or promoted Tweets in a Twitter stream.

network
Generally refers to an ad network

nonexclusive inventory
Inventory for which a given ad trafficker can't be certain where they are in the ad call daisy chain. They may be first or the ad call may have already passed through another platform as part of a daisy chain.

O&O
See owned and operated

online behavioral advertising (OBA)
Advertising to people surfing the Internet based on their past browsing behaviors. See also DMA OBA compliance.

optimization
The process of using historical data to adjust a programmatic approach to buying a piece of inventory. Frequently, this information will be used to either alter the bid price for a piece of inventory or determine if a buyer is willing to bid on a piece of inventory at all.

out-stream video
A type of video ad embedded within an article or other body of web content, mostly set to auto-play when the reader reaches the part of the page that contains the ad. 

owned and operated
In online advertising, a type of publisher that both owns and operates its inventory sources. Different from a managed publisher, which does not own and operate its inventory sources but has a financial relationship with those who do. 

passback
The redirecting of an impression  back to an  ad server  when no acceptable bid is received from a mediated bid, in order to allow the next highest bidder a chance to win the impression. See also default tag

personally identifiable information (PII)
Information that can be tied to an actual named person, rather than an anonymous user ID. For example, names, social security numbers, residential addresses, and driver's license numbers would be considered PII. Many jurisdictions worldwide have explicit policies banning the use and tracking of PII in online advertising, and numerous ad traffickers do as well. 

PHP session ID
A PHP session allows you to store user information on a server for later use. However, session information is temporary and will be deleted after the user has left a website. Sessions work by creating a unique ID (UID) for each visitor and storing variables based on this UID. The UID is either stored in a cookie or is propagated in the URL.

piggyback
This term usually refers specifically to a piggybacked pixel. When pixel A has pixel B piggybacked on to it, then the firing of pixel A causes the firing of pixel B. This second firing can either be via a redirect or a server-side firing. Piggyback pixels may be used for tracking conversions in secondary systems. 

PII
See personally identifiable information

pixel
A pixel is a way to track user data. Originally, all pixels were literally snippets of code that called for a 1X1 transparent pixel to be delivered to a webpage by a third-party server. Nowadays, pixels may either be literal pixels or be javascript based. When the pixel loads, the third-party server can record information such as the IP address of the user's computer, URL of the page, and time the page was viewed. See also conversion pixel and segment pixel.

placement
A term describing the object that represents a piece of inventory. Publishers embed placements into web pages' ad tags. This same object may also be called an ad tag or an ad unit, but this is slighting inaccurate, as placements contain tags and represent units of available ad space. 

pop ad
An ad that displays in a secondary browser window. Pop-up ads display in front of the initial browser window, while pop-under ads display behind it. 

pop-under
An ad that displays in a secondary browser window directly behind the initial browser window. See also pop-up .

  pop-up
An ad that displays in a secondary browser window directly in front of the initial browser window. See also pop-under.

PPM
Profit per thousand, or mille impressions ( mille  = thousand in Latin). A useful measurement for ad networks, whose goal is to buy cheaper inventory and sell it at higher prices. 

premium inventory
The term "premium" can be used in different ways, but it most commonly refers to publisher inventory that is sold through direct channels in advance – in other words, guaranteed inventory. Often premium inventory is from a site's home page, or has some other elevated level of desirability. See also remnant inventory.

premnant inventory
A portmanteau word of premium + remnant. "remnant inventory," or non-guaranteed inventory has an unnecessarily negative connotation, when this inventory might be first-rate.

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.

PSA
Public service announcement. On many ad serving platforms, a PSA will serve if there are no acceptable bids on a piece of inventory and the publisher does not have a default creative set. 

publisher
A source of inventory. Publishers are generally either managed or owned and operated. An owned and operated publisher receives 100% of the profit for impressions sold. This is opposed to a managed publisher: a publisher that does not own its inventory but has a financial relationship with those who do.

publisher click-tracking
When a publisher keeps track of clicks on their ads. If a publisher is being paid on a  CPC  basis and wants to track clicks, they can provide click-tracking URL where it is possible to ping them each time a user clicks on an ad. 

query string 
A way to pass data to a web application as part of a URL. For example, at AppNexus a buyer can target ads based on the information in the querystring. The query string comes after a "?" in the URL, for example:

reach
The number of unique user IDs that can be reached by online advertising. You might broaden your reach by targeting new inventory, or evaluate the reach inherent in some set of user data such as "male clothes shoppers."

real-time advertising
In real-time advertising, ads are shown as the result of real-time bidding auctions. 

real-time auction 
See real-time bidding.

real-time bidding (RTB)
Bidding that happens via automated auctions on online ad inventory in real time. A real-time bid is often dynamically generated based on past performance of creatives, inventory, user groups, and other parameters. Real-time bidding also implies multiple bidding systems or exchanges making calls to each other in real time.

recency capping
A way to limit the showing of an ad over time. For example, an advertiser might want to avoid showing an ad to a specific user ID more than once per hour.

retargeting
Targeting users who have performed an action in the past, who may therefore be more likely to perform the same or a similar task in the future. For example, an advertiser might wish to put a segment pixel on their website and then target users who have visited the website in the past because they are more likely to make a purchase.

remnant inventory
Inventory sold after premium inventory has been pre-sold by a direct salesforce. Remnant inventory is sometimes synonymous with real-time inventory, and is often the target of programmatic buying. Because remnant has an unnecessarily negative connotation, other terms that have been experimented with are "premnant" (premium + remnant} or "secondary premium." Also sometimes called "tier 2" or "class 2."

reporting
In ad tech, reporting data for both buyers and sellers, such as much money spent, impressions seen, impressions sold, and revenue earned. Because automated programs can be used to track spending, impressions, and earnings, online advertising has helped buyers to understand the value of their marketing budgets in new ways. 

request
In general, the term "request" can refer to any attempt by one's browser to retrieve a page, including page elements such as ads, from a server on the Internet. In ad tech it usually applies to a request for a creative or ad tag. 

reserve creative 
See default creative.

reserve price
The lowest price at which a bidder or member will sell an impression.

REST
Representational State Transfer. A type of API protocol that operates on POST, GET, PUT, and DELETE commands.

rich media
Rich media refers generally to media that has non-standard characteristics such as: Larger than ~40k, out-of-banner (OOB) behavior, features like "post to Facebook," plays video within a banner, or in-creative metrics collection. Expandable creatives are examples of rich media creatives. 

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

ROI
Return on investment. Literally, how much profit is made when money is invested. ROI can also be an idiom for whether or how much a given action or risk pays off, both in ad trading and business in general. 

ROE
Run of exchange. A term meaning inventory available for purchase on an ad exchange.

RON
Run of network. A term meaning all inventory managed by a network.

ROS
Run of site. A term meaning all inventory available on a certain website.

RPM
Revenue per thousand, or mille impressions (mille = thousand in Latin). Related to the CPM bidding strategy

rotating creative
When a single ad tag is set to send one of several different creatives. Brand and other guidelines for creative acceptance may set limits on how much creatives may vary when associated to a single tag. For example, AppNexus bans a single tag from showing ads for multiple brands. See also dynamic creative

RTB
See real-time bidding

S-Z

second price auction
An auction type in which the bidder who submitted the highest bid pays a price equal to the second highest bid. Also known as a Vickrey auction. This auction type has been in use for over a century for the purchase and sale of a variety of goods and services, and is based on game theory as applied to auction dynamics. It's a commonly used auction type in online ad trading. 

segment
A group composed of members of a target audience identified based on the webpages they visit, the actions they take such as making a purchase or completing a sign-up form, or data such as gender or geographical region.

segment data
See user data and contextual data.

segment pixel
A pixel that marks a user as belonging to a certain segment. For example, an advertiser might place a segment pixel on the homepage and mark all visitors to the homepage as "homepage visitors."

semantic targeting
In theory, semantic targeting means figuring out what the content on a webpage is really about and being able to place ads based on that content. For example, if a website says "sunny weather," is it about great beach vacations, or is it about skin cancer, and do you want to advertise flights to Florida on it or not? However, the term is often used by different people to mean slightly different things, and is often used to be synonymous with contextual targeting.

skin creative
A creative that wraps, acts as a wallpaper, or otherwise surrounds page content with ad content.

SSP
See supply side platform (SSP).

supply
See inventory.

supply side platform (SSP)
Analogous to a demand side platform (DSP), an SSP enables publishers to access demand from a variety of networks, exchanges, and platforms via one interface.

tag
A snippet of HTML, generally either JavaScript or an IFRAME, that tells the browser to request some content from an ad server.  Tag is often used to mean an ad tag but may also be a creative tag or some other kind of tag. A tag is provided by an ad server or exchange and placed in the webpage by a publisher.

tag container
Many advertisers and their media buyers use a number of tags for tracking impressions, clicks, conversions, and other data. Some use tag containers to manage these disparate pixel tags and make it easier to change them via a single source. When a page loads, the tag container code displays the code for all tags stored within the container.

targeting
See ad targeting

technology providers
Third-party entities who may assist various parties involved in Internet advertising by providing access to bidders or other technology.

third-party cookies
Cookies with a different domain than the website a user is currently on. For example, if you visit www.mysite.com, an AppNexus cookie with the domain ib.appnexus.com would be a third-party cookie. See also first-party cookies.

timestamp
The date and time that a specific event – such as a click or conversion – occurred. Useful in reporting functions and attribution. For example, at AppNexus, the timestamp format is YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS. In this format, 12:15 PM on New Year's Day 2015 would be 2015-01-01 12:15:00. 


trading desk
A buy-side trading entity housed within or working for advertising agencies. Also known as an agency trading desk or ATD. ATDs are usually the programmatic arms of holding companies. Independent trading desks, known as ITDs, are another kind of trading desk, and are usually outsourced managed services firms that run programmatic ad buys on behalf of advertisers or agencies.

UGC
See user-generated content.

uniques 
Individual users, as represented by a unique user ID. A unique user ID is not associated in any way with personally identifiable information (PII), so it cannot identify a specific unique individual. Also, an individual may be associated with multiple user IDs due to clearing browser cookies or using multiple browsers and multiple devices. Additionally, for mobile devices, a unique user ID may be associated with multiple device IDs (for example,  Apple IDFA, OpenUDID, and others). See reach to learn more about individual users/user IDs. 

u nique user ID 
Also sometimes called a UUID. A unique, anonymous user ID for a given user profile that may be stored in a user's browser cookie and/or in the a server-side cookie store. Ad traffickers are not permitted to associate these IDs in any way with personally identifiable information (PII), and user IDs do not necessarily equate to a unique individual. An individual may also be associated with multiple user IDs due to clearing cookies or using multiple browsers and multiple devices. Additionally, for mobile devices, a unique user ID may be associated with multiple device IDs (for example, Apple IDFA, OpenUDID, etc.). 

user
A target customer for advertisers. The person browsing the web who will see an ad.

user agent
This usually refers to a browser application. For example, Mozilla 5.0 is a specific user agent.

user data
Information about users that makes them more valuable to advertisers. User data can include age, gender, location, intent to purchase, demographics, psychographics, wealth, past purchases, and more. User data is generally associated with a UUID found in a cookie rather than any personally identifiable information. User data is distinct from contextual data. Often used interchangeably with segment data and audience data.

user data store
A place where data about a user is stored. In online advertising, this often refers to a user's browser cookie. Sometimes, certain user data may be stored server-side for a limited period of time. This data is periodically expunged from server records in order to prevent it from drastically slowing server function, and does not contain personally identifiable information (PII)

user-generated content
Content on a website that was posted by users and not a centralized publisher. This includes social media posts as well as blogs, wikis, podcasting, images, videos, audio files, and other forms of media created and posted by users of an online system or service. Some sites support user content through advertising. Others are supported by donations, subscription fees, or a combination of methods. Examples of sites that emphasize or are built around user-generated content include Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Wikipedia, YouTube, Vine, and SoundCloud. 

user ID
See unique user ID

user ID mapping
Each buyer and seller may assign their own different IDs to a user. Without knowing that Seller S's user ABC is the same as Buyer B's user 1234, it is impossible for B to value an impression from S. To allow for attribution and valuation, different parties must synchronize their IDs by mapping one ID to another. For example, AppNexus assigns every user it sees a unique ID that's stored in the user's browser cookie. The AppNexus member or bidder maps the AppNexus ID to their internal user ID with the AppNexus User ID Mapping Service. Also known as user ID synching.

user sync pixel
A pixel used to synchronize user IDs assigned by different parties during an auction, generally to apply frequency, recency, and other decisioning data. See also user ID mapping.

UUID
See unique user ID.

VAST
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 (IAB) VAST documentation.

video quartiles
A quartile is 1/4th of something. Media players fire a series of engagement pixels as the video continues to play. These pixels typically indicate how many quartiles of a video has been played, firing at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% completion.

VMAP
Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP) specification.  This is an XML template that video content owners can use to describe the structure for ad inventory insertion when they don’t control the video player or the content distribution outlet.

VPAID
Video Player Ad-Serving Interface Definition. VAST supports relatively simple in-stream video ad formats that are not executable. VPAID was created to support more interactive rich media video formats. For more information, see the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) VPAID documentation.

vendor
In online advertising, a vendor generally refers to a company with a specific product or service such as creating or delivering rich media, maintaining a CDN, or providing third-party data.

viewability
A measure of whether an ad has been seen by a given user. Viewability measurement is achieved using javascript embedded within each creative, which is then called for each individual ad impression. The script launches automatically as the page loads and immediately starts measuring if and when the creative is viewable based on a variety of measures. These may include whether a web or browser tab is in focus, whether a particular ad is in view of a user based on where on the page the user has scrolled to, how long an ad was visible based on these metrics, and other factors. The most commonly used bidding strategy based on viewability is CPVM. In 2015, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released industry standards for viewability. To learn more, see the IAB website

web mediation
Mediation that takes place over the Web. Web mediation involves trafficking an ad network’s tags. The tags are called when the seller ranks the networks proxy bid higher than any other demand. If the buyer doesn’t take the impression, a passback tag set up by the seller informs the ad network to go to the next highest bidder or ad network.

yield management
Broadly, this term refers to selling the right things to the right customer at the right time for the right price to maximize revenue. In online advertising, it generally refers to maximizing the revenue of publishers and their impressions using tools such as price floors.

17 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    ROE - Run of Exchange ?

  2. Anonymous

    DMP- Data Management Platform?

  3. Anonymous

    DCO- Dynamic Creative Optimization?

  4. Unknown User (ejohnson)

    Good suggestions---adding. Thanks!

  5. Anonymous

    Also nothing about prospecting ?

  6. Anonymous

    DEM - Display Engine Marketing Specialist? (MikeOnAds - Feb/2009)

  7. Anonymous

    Not sure the definitions for DSP and SSP are very clear in their distinctions between the two. SSP appears to be missing 'publisher' before the word demand. 

  8. Unknown User (ejohnson)

    Re: DEM, I know Mike used DEM in his post (http://www.mikeonads.com/2010/02/26/everybodys-a-dsp-wait-whats-a-dsp/) and I've found it a few other places, but I haven't been hearing it. Anyone else?

    Re: DSP/SSP. I indeed had a typo in there. I've cleaned them up---thanks for the catch.

    1. Anonymous

      No problem re the DSP/SSP typo. 

      Re DEM, I know that mexad refer to themselves this way and that some agencies find it a useful way of describing DSP's to marketers, basically search with the 'S' swapped out for 'D'. 

  9. Anonymous

    Great blog! Would like to see the following definitions

    - Daisy-chaining ad server

    - Audience extension

    - Container tag

  10. Fixed. Thanks for catching this, Rachel.

  11. Anonymous

    what is 

    imps_default_bidder from the reporting columns?


  12. Anonymous

    What happens when there is a 'Default Error'? Does it go to a PSA?

    1. Unknown User (ejohnson)

      No, it actually runs your default creative.

  13. Unknown User (ejohnson)

    Good one! Added.

  14. Anonymous

    I'd like to verify the "analogy" indicated to both DSP and SSP, I thought they were quite different on their focus, one to advertisers and the other to publishers, also a bit of different tasks cause of their targets. Please tell me If i'm wrong

  15. Anonymous

    Define passback?