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Ultimate online advertising and Ad Tech glossary

By Ana Kealy

June 26, 2024

32 Glossary B 02

Ever since its beginnings back in 2000, the Ad Tech Industry has never stopped evolving and expanding; from the rise of Programmatic, the surge of data-based Advertising, the Mobile revolution and, lately, Privacy regulation changes, this industry is constantly reinventing itself. This also means that its terms and concepts also keep on changing, making the Ad Tech jargon widely extensive, and maybe a bit daunting for some. At EXADS we strive to make your Advertising ventures go as smoothly as possible: From making our robust Ad Serving platform and professional tools available to you, to writing useful articles filled with tips and information designed to guide you towards your Advertising business’ success! On this occasion, we have put together an online advertising and Ad Tech glossary containing the main Advertising, Publishing and Ad Serving terms. Keep reading!

Basic digital advertising terms that you should know

In this first section of our online advertising and Ad Tech glossary you will find some of the main digital advertising terms that you should know when it comes to Ad Tech jargon. These concepts are key to understand the basic infrastructure, advertising mediums and actors that you can find in the world of Ad Tech:

Ad Serving Platform: Describes the technology and service that places advertisements on websites.

Ad Network: ‍An Ad Network is an Ad platform that sells ad inventory and traffic from a range of Publishers to Advertisers at a set bidding price.

Ad Exchange: A digital marketplace that automates ad deals between Advertisers and Publishers using real-time bidding.

Administration or Admin Panel (AP): The interface provided by Ad Platforms to clients (Publishers and Advertisers) in order to buy and sell traffic.

Advertisers: One of the key actors mentioned in this online advertising and Ad Tech glossary, Advertisers are customers who create campaigns to promote offers, which might be their own or might belong to a third party. Ad Networks act as an intermediary between Advertisers and Publishers.

Ad Format: The specifications of the advertisement displayed in the website. For more information about our available ad formats, please check our Ad Formats page.

Advertising Campaign: A collection of targeting features, price settings and creatives that enable the promotion of an offer.

Ad Zone: A script that allows Publishers to display ads on a website. Usually, this script is added to the source code of the website.

Offer: The product or URL being promoted by the Advertiser.

Publisher: Customers who earn money by sending traffic from their websites to us, using the ad zones they create in the Admin Panel.

Traffic: Last one of the digital advertising terms that you should know; it is the flow of data sent and received by visitors to a website. Generally, traffic is divided into clicks, impressions and video views.

  • Click: A click on an advertisement, which generates a new tab with the Advertiser's URL.
  • Impression: A request for an advertisement from the Publisher's website. An impression is counted regardless of whether the advertisement is displayed on the website or not.
  • Video view: An advertising video view happens after 10 seconds of video playback.

Most popular ad formats of the Ad Tech industry

Next up in our online advertising and Ad Tech glossary, we will look at the most popular ad formats of the Ad Tech industry. An Ad format is, as the name itself suggests, the format in which Advertisements are shown to end users on a website, including the formatting of the copy and the creative. Your ideal Ad Platform will offer you a wide range of high performing ad formats optimized for all devices and built to the IAB industry standards and fully compliant with Chrome and the Better Ads Coalition. Here are some of the most popular ad formats of the Ad Tech industry along with a few more digital advertising terms that you should know:

Banner ads: Possibly the most well-known and popular ad formats of the ad tech industry, they consist of a rectangular ad creative which is shown at the top, side or bottom of a Publisher website. They are lighter than rich media formats and more affordable. Some Banner formats are Sticky, Display and Large Footer.

Email Clicks: An email is sent to end users with a call to action that directs them to the Advertiser’s landing page or signup form.

Direct Links: A Direct Link from the Publisher’s site to Fullpage tabs, Push Notifications, or Back Button offers.

Instant Message: Mimics an IM chat box. Appears on the bottom right of the page for desktop and on bottom center for mobile.

Muti-format Ads: These ads adapt to serve multiple ad formats: Banners or Native in just one placement.

Responsive Display Ads: RDAs are created automatically from an Advertiser’s uploaded assets: images and texts.

Sponsored Listings: These ads appear at the top of a list of products or services, highlighted to indicate that they are paid placements.

Fullpage Interstitial: This format fills the full desktop screen when the user navigates a site. Has a ‘Close ad’ option on the top right. Mobile and Native Interstitial options are available.

Native: An essential ad format to mention in this online advertising and Ad Tech glossary; a Native ad contains an Image, a Title, a Description and also a Brand name. As a Publisher you can create the Native ad zones to fit in with your website. You can enable Native Exit and Native Recommendation.

Popunder ads: Popunders are large format ads hidden behind the main browser window that appears when the user closes or minimizes it.

Push Notifications: Push ads contain an icon + image or icon + text. Sent to opted-in users on all devices even when offline.

Video: Video ads tend to have a very high conversion rate compared to other formats. The main 3 video formats, aside from Video Banners and In-Video Banners, are Video Sliders, In-Stream, and Outstream formats.

How do ad campaigns work: Ad campaign basic infrastructure

In this section of our online advertising and Ad Tech glossary you can find the terms that will help you better understand how ad campaigns work as well as ad campaign basic infrastructure and what technical elements are involved. A great Ad Server will put forward advanced Ad Campaign tools for you to offer to your Advertiser clients.

Bid: A staple concept of ad campaign basic infrastructure, this is the amount that an Advertiser is willing to pay, based on the price model, in order to promote their offer. More information on how to set up the appropriate bid in your campaign here. There are so many different Bidding models including:

  • Real-time Bidding (RTB): A system where impressions and clicks are sold via programmatic auction. Traffic is sold per impression/click and delivery is instant. RTB allows the connection between multiple Supply and Demand Service Platforms (SSP and DSP, respectively).
  • Bid Request: A real-time bidding (RTB) request sent from the ad server to the buyer for the auction of an impression.
  • Bid Shading: Market bid data is leveraged to find an average bid between the highest and lowest price bids, preventing Advertisers from overpaying for their bids.
  • Header Bidding: A technical solution that allows Publishers to offer their impressions to multiple Ad Exchanges and demand partners at the same time.

Behavioral Targeting: Behavioral targeting is the process of identifying particular sets of customers based on their online activity, which helps advertisers place the right ads in front of the right users.

Contextual Targeting: Taking into account the Cookieless future approaching, this is an essential targeting method to mention in this online advertising and Ad Tech glossary. Advertiser ads are targeted and matched with the content on a Publisher website by interest or topic focus.

Conversion: A key digital advertising term that you should know; a specific user interaction with the offer that is considered as the goal of the advertising campaign. Usually, a conversion indicates some sort of payout for the Advertiser. 

Creatives: The assets (images, videos and other designs) chosen by Advertisers to be displayed in the Publishers' websites as means to promote the offer. Advertisers can manage all their uploaded creatives through their Media Library.

Frequency Capping: Restricting (capping) the number of times (frequency) a specific visitor to a website is shown a particular ad. 

Geo-Targeting: The action of pointing an advertisement towards a specific geographical region, area or location. Geo-targeting is done based on the IP address of the visitor. Geo-Targeting is one of the many Targeting options we have in EXADS.

Landing Page: Another key element to mention in this Ultimate online advertising and Ad Tech glossary. This is the specific web page that a visitor ultimately reaches after clicking an advertisement. 

Pixel Tag: An invisible image of 1x1px used in pixel tracking. The pixel tag generates a cookie that helps us identify the user as long as the cookie remains in session.

Postback URL: A URL that notifies our server whenever there is a conversion on a campaign, so that conversion details can be reflected both on the tracking solution and EXADS Admin Panel. Postback URLs are essential for Server-to-Server(S2S) tracking.

Pricing models: Pricing models are another key element to understanding how do ad campaigns work. They constitute the way in which Advertisers wish to pay for the traffic they get in their campaigns. The most common pricing models are the following:

  • Cost per Click (CPC): Advertiser pays for each click on the advertisement.
  • Cost per Mille (CPM): Advertiser pays for one thousand advertisement impressions regardless of the consumer’s subsequent actions.
  • Cost per View (CPV): Advertiser pays for each view of a video ad.
  • Cost per Action (CPA): Advertiser pays for each specific action (usually a conversion) made by the user after being redirected by the ad. CPA can also be separated into different subcategories:
    • Cost per Sale (CPS): Advertiser pays only when a user makes a purchase on the Advertiser website or adds his credit card number to sign up for a paid subscription.
    • Cost per Lead (CPL): Advertiser pays for every email address or user sign up on the website.
    • Cost per Install (CPI): Advertiser pays for every app download or extension instal.

Smart Bid: Smart Bid is a smart pricing model offered by EXADS, that is based on machine learning. This new optimization feature helps Advertisers to automatically determine an optimal bid for their campaigns by analyzing campaign data such as the likelihood of a user to convert, the campaign’s historical information and contextual real-time signals .

Remarketing/Retargeting: A feature that allows Advertisers to target or exclude users that have been identified through pixel tracking. Retargeting is a useful feature to keep your brand visible by helping prospective customers finish their sales. It can also help you distribute your budget by removing finished sales from your targeted traffic.

Run of Network (RON): RON Networks include those ad zones that are not Premium or Members Area.

Variation: The combination of a creative and a landing page/Advertiser URL in a specific campaign. You can determine the traffic distribution across the variations in your campaign.

Zone Type/Ad Placement: The specific position within the website where the ad zone is located. Some common zone types and digital advertising terms that you should know are:

  • Header: Ad zone is placed at the very top of the website, before the site's contents.
  • Homepage cube: Ad zone is placed within the site's contents, but in a highlighted place above-the-fold (i.e: user does not need to scroll in order to see the advertisement).
  • Middle: Ad zone is placed within the contents (scrolling might or might not be needed in order to see the ad).
  • Footer: Ad zone is placed after at the very bottom of the website, after the site's contents.
  • Sidebar: Ad zone is placed on a menu next to the site's contents, which might stay on screen while scrolling or not.
  • Near-The-Video (NTV): Ad zone is placed on one of the sides from the main video player from the website.
  • In-Video: Ad zone is placed inside the video player. Can appear before the main video starts, during video playback or only when the video is paused.
  • Underplayer: Ad zone is placed right below the video player.

How to track success of advertising campaign and how to know if your ad zones need optimizing

Another key section of this Ultimate online advertising and Ad Tech glossary, since tracking results is fundamental! Advertising metrics track the progress of an Advertising campaigns or a Publisher ad zone, giving a precise picture of which campaigns and zones are successful and which need to be optimized. Here are some of the metrics that can be found in the Advertiser and Publisher statistics and that can help you understand how to track success of advertising campaign and how to know if your ad zones need optimizing:

Click Through Rate (CTR): The percentage of clicks based on the amount of impressions sent by an advertisement.

Conversion Rate (CR): The relationship between the clicks received by an advertisement and the conversions it generated. When the ad format does not register clicks (e.g: Popunder), this metric will use impressions instead.

Effective Cost per Action (eCPA): A metric used to calculate how much an Advertiser paid to reach a certain conversion (sale, lead or install). A campaign is considered profitable when the eCPA is lower than the payout of the conversion.

Effective Cost Per Mille (eCPM): This term has slightly different meanings for advertising and publishing:

  • In publishing, this is considered as the value of a Publisher’s traffic. The eCPM does not only depend on the amount of clicks and impressions, but also on the bids that Advertisers set up in their campaigns to target the Publisher’s traffic. The more interested Advertisers are in an ad zone’s traffic, the higher the bids will be and the higher the eCPM Publisher will get.
  • In advertising, this is used to calculate the effectiveness of an advertising campaign regardless of the actual pricing model.

Return on Investment (ROI): The net benefit obtained by a campaign (or a set of campaigns) after calculating all the costs it entailed.

Views Ratio: The ratio of impressions of a video advertisement to viewings of that video

A great Ad Platform should provide Customizable Dashboards that help you carry out intelligent data analysis; EXADS puts over 50 Metrics and 25 Dimensions at your disposal, which you can access from our Customizable Dashboards.

Are you enjoying reading this Ultimate online advertising and Ad Tech glossary? Then keep on reading for Sales terms and other useful Ad Tech terms that you should know!

Sales digital advertising terms that you should know

The terms in this section of the Ultimate online advertising and Ad Tech glossary help describe the processes, platforms and actors involved in the sale of an online offer beyond an Advertising campaign:

Affiliate / Media Buyer: An affiliate is an Advertiser that promotes 3rd party offers. Affiliates usually make money on commission, that is, by generating conversions. Affiliates get the offer links from affiliate platforms or directly from the product owner. Since affiliates are not the owners of the offers, they cannot make any edits on the landing page and are limited to buy only the traffic allowed by the affiliate platform. Media buyers are more or less the same, but they tend to have more flexibility in deciding which audiences to target and which ad formats to use.

Blind traffic: Traffic that comes from referral sites or links. Blind traffic is not owned by the Publisher and there is no information about the actual website where it comes from.

Insertion Order (IO): A written authorization to display advertisements on Website(s). IOs specify the duration and location where the ad will be displayed. IOs are not provided unless the Advertiser agrees to set up a Traffic Share deal, explained below.

Paid To Read (PTR) / Paid to Click (PTC): Incentive programs where members earn real money or in-web currency (credits) for reading or clicking on advertisements. 

Pre-lander: A website that Advertisers create in order to gather information about visitors before redirecting them to the actual offer. Pre-landers can be useful to gather information about the target audience but they can affect the performance of the campaign because it takes more time to reach the actual conversion.

Product Owner: The individual or company who owns the offer is promoted in the advertising campaigns. Since they own the website, they can place tracking pixels and carry out retargeting campaigns.

Single & double opt-in (SOI & DOI): A type of offer where a user has to register with his email. A Single opt-in offer means that the client only needs to add the email, whereas the double opt-in client has to confirm the email address by clicking on a confirmation link sent to his email. Double opt-ins are usually more valuable than singles.

Tracking URL: A URL that tracks all the information (device, country, etc.) of the user that comes from an advertisement. Tracking URLs are always empty (they display no content) and simply redirect the user to the offer or to a pre-lander.

Other relevant online advertising and Ad Tech glossary terms

Last but not least in this Ultimate online advertising and Ad Tech glossary, here are some extra useful terms that will help you further understand the Ad Tech industry and its technical infrastructure: 

Application Programming Interface (API): A set of routines, frameworks and sentences that allows the user to request data from and post to external servers using their own software.

Ad Fatigue: When an end user sees the same ad too many times and starts ignoring the ads. This is why refreshing your ad creatives regularly is key!

Banner Blindness: When end users either consciously or subconsciously ignore Banner ads due to ad fatigue attributed to the format. How to avoid Banner blindness on your website? One way would be enabling different ad formats on a Publisher website.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate: A digital key that allows a secure connection to a website. SSL is a requirement for campaigns running on HTML/iframes. It also plays a small role in SEO.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): The study and development of strategies required to improve the ranking of a page or a website in search engine results (like Google or Bing).

Video Ad Serving Template (VAST): An advertising structure for video players. VAST is used by many HTML5 video players to serve video advertisements.

Have you enjoyed reading our Ultimate online advertising and Ad Tech glossary? Are you looking for a versatile and easy-to-use Ad Server with plenty of customizable features and integrations to help you in your advertising journey? Want more resources to help you navigate your Advertising journey such as this article? Get in touch with us and discover what EXADS has in store for you! 

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Ana Kealy