Glossary of Terms
The following glossary of terms associated with the buying and selling of programmatic advertising is courtesy of the Media Ratings Council (MRC) and other sources where indicated.
Above the Fold – The content on a web page that is visible to the eye without having to scroll down the page.
Ad Campaign – A collection of messages from an advertiser or client that is designed to run during a specific interval and / or within a set of media outlets (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Ad Exchanges – A sales channel and technology platform that facilitates automated, auction-based pricing and buying in real time. Ad exchanges’ business models and practices may include features that are similar to those offered by ad networks, but the key difference is they can target an individual in real-time, unlike an ad network. In addition, inventory is bought as needed in real time, not by bulk in advance.
Ad Server – The technology and service that pushes advertisements to websites. Ad serving technology companies provide software to web sites and advertisers to serve ads, count them, choose the ads that will make the website or advertiser most money, and monitor progress of different advertising campaigns.
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.
Ad Tech Stack – A series of advertising related technology and processing systems when used in conjunction help company send proposals, set up advertising, tracking the delivery and results and bill for the experience.
Affiliate Marketing – Affiliate marketing is a marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate’s own marketing efforts. Examples include rewards sites and text referral links in blogs.
Agency Trading Desk (ATD) – A centralized organization within a larger agency that serves as a managed service layer, most often on top of a demand side platform (DSP) partner and other audience buying technologies. ATDs manage programmatic, bid- based media and audience buying on behalf of the agency family’s clients, serving as an internal interface to tap into this new buying model.
Asset Identifier – In general, the digital measurement asset used to track unique advertising and content both within digital distribution and in cross-media environments. For digital measurement of advertising this is may include a tracking asset such as a tag or other digital measurement method as well as encoding, watermarking or other industry and proprietary identifiers (for both advertising and content). See Sections 4.1.4 for further details and guidance related to asset identifiers that may be used for digital audience-based measurement.
Audience – Audience activity generally consists of counts of Internet users accessing content and/or advertising through one or more Internet applications such as a browser or a browser- equivalent, filtered to remove suspected Invalid Traffic (Source: IAB).
Audience Composition – The audience breakdown of aggregated, segmented characteristics, often reported as a percentage, based on such elements as age, gender, income, education, household characteristics etc. (Source: IAB). In addition to demographic characteristics, Audience Composition may also include behavioral variables such as site visitation, purchase activity, location etc.
Audience Extension – Offered by ad networks, server-side platforms, and demand-side platforms, audience extension tools allow publishers to follow site visitors to other websites. This provides publishers with the ability to offer advertisers media buys that include reaching a publication’s audience outside of their website.
Average Audience Rating – The amount of viewing (expressed as a percent) on average, to a program, network, channel, ad, version or time period out of the universe or full population. (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0). Based on the average second, 5 second, minute or other time frame (most precise possible granularity is preferred) within the total duration of the ad or program content and may be aggregated by channel or brand.
In TV, average minute audience is often used and represented the average number of individuals viewing a channel. Average minute audience is calculated by averaging the total minutes viewed divided by the total viewing universe over a specified time or program and may be considered for use in longer format video ads.
Beacon – A small transparent image placed on a website or in an email that tracks user behavior, such as an IP address and time spent on a web page.
Behavioral Targeting – A range of technologies and techniques used by online website publishers and advertisers which allows them to target more effectively by capturing data generated by website and landing page visitors.
Below the fold – The content on a webpage that is visible after scrolling down is referred to as “below the fold.”
Bid Caching – is the process of keeping a bid when a buyer fails to win an impression and they applying that bid to a later ad-request.
Bid Request – includes information from sellers that specifies which advertisers and creatives are allowed to win an auction and run on a page. This information is stored into an ad approval profile, which bidders can use to make sure that their bids are accepted.
Brand Safety – A brand’s exposure to inappropriate content on a publisher’s site. The automation of programmatic means that brands do not always know where their ads will appear.
Browser (or Web Browser) – A software application for retrieving, presenting, and traversing information resources on the World Wide Web.
Caching – Memory used to temporarily store the most frequently requested content, files or pages in order to speed its delivery to the user. Caches can be local (i.e. on a browser) or on a network (Source: IAB). As discussed in this document, IAB measurement guidelines require certain cache busting techniques designed to minimize the impact on measurement accuracy of cached measurement assets.
Census Data – Measurement designed to represent a complete count of a population of a universe as opposed to a sample or subset.
Client User – A mobile device that interacts with an application, essentially executing or otherwise reviewing the application. The number of Users (people) or the demographic characteristics of the Users interacting with the application through the Client User is not necessarily known.
Click-Through Rate – The percentage of users who were delivered an ad and clicked on that ad.
Completion Rate – The percentage of video ad impressions that are played to completion, meaning the viewer does not skip or leave the video.
Compression – The process by which files of data or video content are reduced in size to facilitate fast transmission and requiring less storage space (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Contextual Advertising – An automated system identifies the content of the page, such as keywords, and delivers targeted image- or text-based advertising.
Cookie – A small piece of information (i.e., program code) that is stored on a browser for the purpose of identifying that browser during audience activity and between visits or sessions. Cookies are typically set to expire. Some cookies are intended to remain on the browser temporarily (for example, during a session) and some are persistent in that they are intended to be retained for longer periods. (Source: IAB)
Coverage – The extent or area covered by sampling or a data source relative to the population measured. Throughout this document coverage is used when discussing projecting audience estimates based on a subset or sample of the measured population as well as the degree to which a particular data set or source represents a measured population.
Creative Optimization – Using experimental or predictive methods to explore the highest-performing creative for a given ad placement, and optimizing towards using that creative more frequently over the course of the campaign.
Cross-platform advertising – The strategy of advertising across a multitude of media platforms – e.g. online video, TV, and mobile.
Cross-Device Tracking – Platforms and publishers attempt to track individual users across every device — mobile, tablet, desktop, and apps. This data is used to better understand users’ behaviors online and target or retarget individuals with relevant advertising.
Cost Per Action (CPA) – Average cost of a user converting during a campaign.
Cost Per Click (CPC) – Average cost of user click-through. Divide the total cost of clicks by the total number of clicks.
Cost Per Thousand (CPM) – The price of 1,000 ad impressions on a web page.
Data Fusion – Combining data from two or more different sources where the data merges and becomes blended into a new data source (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Data Integration – Combining data from two or more different sources while having the data maintain its individual database integrity (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Data Management Platform (DMP) – A system for managing data, such as cookie IDs. This centralized management platform used by agencies, publishers, and brands helps manage first-party data and integrate it with third-party data to tie user information and activity together and optimize media buys.
Data Normalization (also Calibration) – Where there are two or more disparate data points within a data set, combining them in such a way that maintains data integrity and accuracy while improving usability (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Deal ID – A system generated number assigned to a automated ad buy that identifies the buyer and the publisher.
Demand Side Platform (DSP) – A technology platform that provides centralized and aggregated inventory buying opportunities from multiple sources, including ad exchanges, ad networks and sell-side platforms. DSPs leverage real time bidding capabilities of these sources to access and win inventory auctions.
Discrepancies – The difference in reported number of two or more different systems within the adtech stack. This generally happens when buyers and sellers are tracking the same activities simultaneously with different systems.
Duplication/De-Duplication – The instances where a Unique (Cookie, Browser, Device,>Household, Respondent, User or Visitor) is exposed to the same content or advertisement more than once within the same dataset or measurement period. De-Duplication is the data editing technique used to remove Duplication from reported processed data or reported results.
Duration Weighted Viewable Impressions (DWVI) – Viewable Impressions that include duration weighting (total unduplicated viewable duration divided by ad duration or unit length) and are intended for input into cross-media GRP (campaign or creative segregation is required).
Dynamic Creative Optimization – Similar to creative optimization however the elements making up the creative such as images, copy, font and color-scheme are varied to see which combination returns the best results
Encoding/Watermarking – The process of putting a special code or unique identifier, often a sequence of characters (letters, numbers, punctuation, and certain symbols) into a specialized format for efficient transmission, storage, privacy protection, security or measurement (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Forced Duration – The portion or duration of video ads during which a user cannot skip the ad to begin content. Forced duration may be configured to span the entire duration of an ad or only a portion of it and contrasts with the portion or duration of video ads during which the user has the ability to skip the ad (generally referred to as “Organic Duration”).
Frequency – The number of times an ad is delivered to the same Browser (or user) in a single Session or time period (Source: IAB). The average number of times the unduplicated homes reached are exposed to a schedule of content whether an ad, a program, a video or a schedule of spots (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Duration Weighted Frequency includes duration weighting (total unduplicated viewable time divided by total ad duration or unit length) and is intended for input into cross-media GRP (campaign or creative segregation is required).
First Look – When a publisher offers inventory to more than one ad network, it provides it to one network first, and then follows with the other networks if the first network passes.
First-Party Data – Data gathered by website owners about their visitors’ behaviors. This is the most valuable type of data because of the quality and accuracy and because the company owns it. It may include subscription, social, and CRM data.
Gross Rating Point (GRP) – The sum of all the rating points for a specified advertisement or advertising campaign reported as a gross number. For a given population, Reach multiplied by average Frequency equals Gross Rating Points.
Hashing – Converts identifiable information into a string of numbers or letters so the person is disguised.
Header Bidding – A programmatic technique whereby a publisher offers inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before making calls to the publisher ad server. It essentially solicits simultaneous auctions from all the bidders before approaching ad exchanges in a waterfall model through the publisher ad server. It is also known as pre-bidding, simultaneous bidding or advanced bidding.
Impressions – An Ad Impression is generally a measurement of delivery of an ad that meets established minimum thresholds for quality and the terms and conditions established between a seller and a buyer (Source: IAB). Valid Ad Impressions must meet the minimum requirements of the IAB Measurement Guidelines for the applicable creative type (Display, Rich Media or Video) and user environment (desktop browser, mobile web and application environments).
In-Tab – Generally, measured data that is considered and included within reported results (in- tabulation) and not removed for editing purposes or because of noncompliance issues.
Inactivity – In digital media may refer to specific inactivity rules, by which a user visit is terminated and thus excluded from additional contributions to Time Spent after a pre-determined level of consecutive minutes of inactivity (Source: IAB Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines).
Insertion Order – Sales orders for a publisher’s inventory that are submitted through an exchange.
Long-Tail Ad Inventory – Inventory with a smaller number of impressions because of the niche audience. Automated buys allow buyers to combine long-tail inventory to reach niche audiences.
Meter – Any automatic recording device or appliance, which may be hardware or software based and which is used to electronically collect measurement data including tuning, Internet activity and other media exposure.
Mobile Application – Mobile In-Application (In-App) refers to content and ads within the native User Interface of an application and not content within either a mobile browser or an embedded browser within an application environment (an instance that is embedded within a native application; typically, this occurs when a user clicks on a URL in a mobile application and the application executes the embedded browser).
Monthly Uniques – The number of distinct individuals who visit a website over the course of a month, regardless of how often they visit.
Non-Human Traffic – Ad impressions made by bots.
Non-Probability Sample – A type of sample that is generally not probabilistic and may or may not be proportionate to a measured universe. An example of a non-probability sample is a convenience sample which includes respondents or data points that may be the easiest to reach or measure and as a result may include certain response and non-response biases.
Non-Response Bias – The lack of or under-representation of a specific segment of the measured audience or the sample which can lead to erroneous research conclusions about overall behavior because the omitted segment has different behaviors or patterns than the rest of the population (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Online Data Aggregator – Companies that establish relationships with many websites in order to gain a large-scale view of cookied users that would otherwise be inaccessible to individual sites.
Overlay Ad – An ad that appears on top of a content page.
Panel Data – A selected cross section of opt-in consumers or viewers [consumers or viewers who agreed to have their behavior and usage measured] whose behavior and usage is measured over a period of time as a group or set of sub groups with the intent to form opinions and trends about their behaviors (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) – Data that can be used to identify a specific individual. This includes names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, among others (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0). Any information about an individual maintained by an agency, including (1) any information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, such as name, social security number, date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, or biometric records and (2) any other information that is linked or linkable to an individual such as medical, educational, financial and employment information (Source: NIST, Guide to Protecting the Confidentiality of PII). Refers to information such as an individual‘s name, mailing address, phone number or e-mail address (Source: IAB).
Pre-roll – The online video ad format that appears prior to an online video, and is typically 10-15 seconds in length.
Probability Sample – A random selection method to create a sample that is designed to best replicate the greater census or Universe being measured. Each selection in the sample must have the same probability of being chosen within relative sampling strata for sample selection.
Programmatic A/B Testing – Automation of testing of different versions of an advertisement to determine the highest performing ads and to remove ineffective versions.
Programmatic Attribution – Using automated methods to understand which combination of marketing contact points are contributing to a goal and using this information to optimize the campaign and reallocate budget.
Programmatic Creative – Gives buyers the ability to create separate creative and copy which are then matched programmatically to find the most effective combination.
Programmatic Direct – Allows buying and selling of media through a web interface. This allows advertisers to automate direct buys.
Price Floor – The lowest price a seller will accept for impressions.
Programmatic Guaranteed or Programmatic Direct – Sellers and buyers negotiate a buy with a set price and run date. This is completed outside of an auction.
Private Exchange – An exchange made from a smaller group of related sites (often grouped by a main publishing company). Publishers provide this solution to monetize their inventory in a real-time environment without having to contract with a larger, third- party exchange, anticipating higher CPMs than they would get in larger exchanges. Advertisers may benefit from having a better understanding of what sites their ads will run on but may find challenges with scaling to a larger Internet audience.
Rate Card – A listing of the prices of advertising on a publisher’s or seller’s website.
Rating – A percentage calculated as: (A) the number of respondents (or projected respondents in a sample or otherwise measured group), filtered for invalid activity that consumed (i.e., represented by the opportunity to see; viewable) an advertisement over a period of time, divided into (B) the total population included in the measured frame (i.e., the Universe Estimate).
Reach – The amount of unduplicated homes or audience, expressed either as a percentage or in thousands who have viewed or tuned [consumed] at least once during a time period or program or any piece of content (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0). Unique users that visited the site measured over the course of the reporting period or the total number of unique users who will be served a given ad (Source: IAB Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines).
Real-Time Bidding – The buying and selling of ad impressions through ad exchanges and platforms. Price is determined by immediate demand. Real-time bidding works within milliseconds — a person person visits a website and their information is given to an ad exchange where an auction for that impression occurs.
Registration Data – Data collected via a process for site visitors to enter information about themselves. Sites use registration data to enable or enhance targeting of content and ads. Registration can be required or voluntary (Source: IAB).
Remnant Inventory – Advertising inventory that a publisher is unable sell. It is then sold to a third party, discounted, or used for PSAs.
Retargeting – Serving ads to consumers based on their previous online actions, such as site visits and email sign-ups, when such actions did not result in a sale or conversion.
Return Path Data/Return Path – A communication channel that can be used by a Set-top Box or Smart TV to communicate with the cable headend or a service provider. Some homes and certain types of devices (e.g. non digital Set-top Box) do not have return path capability. Return path communication in Satellite homes is facilitated through landline phone lines or an independent broadband connection. Return Path Data can apply to other devices and digital data paths as well.
Second-Party Data – This is first-party data either bought directly from a seller/publisher or through a DMP.
Second-Price Auction – The winner of an ad impression in an auction pays one cent above the next highest bidder.
Session – A single application-use event that spans an unspecified period of time of constant or ongoing application activity by a User through the Client User. Sessions are terminated by User actions indicating the closing of the application, or by inactivity levels that meet or exceed defined thresholds. Sessions are generally applicable to the calculation of reach metrics (Source: IAB Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines).
Supply-Side Platform (SSP) -Software platform that allows publishers connect their inventory with ad exchanges, networks, and DSPs at the same time to sell impressions at their highest value in real time. An SSP provides publishers with access to many potential buyers, and they can set a minimum price they will sell impressions for.
Targeting – A technique used by online publishers and advertisers to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns based on behavior or demographic characteristics [by focusing advertising impressions against a pre-determined sub-set of the universe or the “target”; targeting may be based on demographics, behavior, or other measurable characteristics]. Behavioral targeting uses information collected on an individual‘s web browsing behavior such as the pages they have visited or the searches they have made to select which advertisements to be displayed to that individual (Source: IAB).
Time Spent/Dwell Time/Duration – The amount of elapsed time from the initiation of a visit to the last audience activity associated with that visit. Time spent can be reported on the basis of cookied browsers, registration or panel participation, but in concept should represent the activity of a single cookied browser or user for a single access session to the web-site or property. (Source: IAB Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines)
Third-Party Cookies – Embedded code used to understand consumer behavior across multiple websites, building a more
comprehensive picture of consumer interests. These cookies are set by companies that do not own or control the domain that the visitor has reached.
Third-Party Data – Aggregated data from other platforms and websites. This data can be imprecise as companies have different collection methods for information on users.
Unique Browsers – An identified and unduplicated Cookied Browser that accesses Internet content or advertising during a measurement period.
Unique Cookies – A count of unique identifiers (Cookies) that represents unduplicated instances of Internet activity to Internet content or advertising during a measurement period.
Unique Devices – An unduplicated computing device that is used to access Internet content or advertising during a measurement period.
Unique Users or Visitors – (both terms are acceptable and equivalent) – An identified and unduplicated individual Internet user who accesses Internet content or advertising during a measurement period.
While the IAB Audience Reach Measurement Guidelines establish certain levels of unique measurement, digital audience assignment should only be done at the unique device or, more preferably, unique user level. As a result, a digital audience measurement vendor must have a robust methodology to identify and de-duplicate unique devices and/or users for such assignment.
Universe – The total population included in the measured frame.
User Attribute – Information, such as demographic, past visits, and interests, about a user to create a behavior profile that will be used for ad targeting.
Viewability – An advertising metric that tracks impressions that can be seen by users.
Viewability Debate – The debate over whether an ad placement is “viewable,” or reasonably seen by a human as they scroll down a web page and consume content.
Viewable Impression – An Ad Impression that meets certain pixel and time thresholds (generally 50% of the ad’s pixels for 1 or 2 continuous seconds for display and video, respectively) in order to qualify as a Viewable Impression. These thresholds are designed to add greater assurance that there was an “opportunity to see” the ad by the user beyond assurance that the ad was properly served and rendered by the device. See the MRC Viewable Impression Measurement and MRC Mobile Viewable Impression Measurement Guidelines for guidance on Viewable Impressions.
Waterfall – A technique publishers use to expose impressions to ad exchanges in descending order of the perceived value of each ad exchange. “Waterfalling” is also known as “daisy chaining.”
Weighting – The statistical application that creates stronger or lesser impact on parts of a sample or a subset of a data set to help the entire sample results better conform to the universe it is projecting to measure (Source: CIMM Lexicon 3.0).
Whitelist – A directory of websites where an advertiser is willing to serve its ads.
Win Rate – The total number of impressions won divided by the total number of impressions bid on.
Yield Optimization – Technique used by ad servers to determine the value of ad impressions and maximize revenue from potential advertisers.