Glossary of Digital Marketing Terms

A/B Testing: A method used to compare different versions of digital ads or website landing pages in order to determine which one performs better. A typical A/B test for ads involves running the two ads simultaneously and then measuring which version gets a better response from the audience.

When running an A/B test, only one element of the ads should be changed at a time. This is because the goal of these tests is to determine which variables generate the best responses from the audience. Once a winner is selected, it is then used as the next control and compared with another version to isolate and identify, the ad element that causes the audience to respond favorably to the ad.

Above the Fold: A term derived from the print advertising industry. It describes the area of a web page that’s visible before the website visitor scrolls down the page. Note: There is no set pixel size for the fold; it will vary depending on the visitor’s screen size and resolution.

Account-based Advertising: One tactic in an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. It’s the practice of serving display advertising only to specified titles at the target accounts you designate. For example, if you’re marketing a new type of food packaging to General Mills, you might target multiple levels of responsibility, such as Senior Product Manager, Senior Product Marketer, VP of Product Marketing. Only people who work at General Mills and have these titles would be shown your ads.

Ad Audience: The total number of people that have been exposed to or could possibly be exposed to an ad during any specific time period.

Ad Banner: The most common form of digital advertising. These ad units, which include static graphics, videos and/or interactive rich media, are displayed on a web page or in an application.

Ad Impressions: The number of times an ad has been served, regardless of whether the user has actually seen or interacted with the ad in any way. (Also see: Ad Serving)

Ad Network: A vendor that connects advertisers to publishers. Ad networks act as a single point of contact between publishers and advertisers, helping negotiate supply and demand.

Ad Serving: The delivery of an ad from a web server to the end user’s device, where the ads are displayed on a browser or an application.

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

Ad Unit: A size-and-format specification for an ad. The Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade association promoting digital ad standard and practices, has a set of guidelines for sizes.

Affiliate Marketing: Publishers have websites that get traffic and advertisers want to promote their products to the people who visit those websites. Affiliate marketing is an agreement between a publisher and an advertiser where the publisher receives compensation for every click delivered and/or every sale made of the advertiser’s product or service.

Analytics: Data and statistics about the users of a website and how they interact with the website. Analytics can be used to uncover information about how many people browse a website, how much time they spend on the website and the specific actions they take on the website.

This information is then used to target audiences, understand consumer behavior, improve user experience and optimize advertising campaigns.

Attribution: The goal of attribution is to identify which touch, of the many possible, is most (or partially) responsible for a conversion, so ROI can be calculated. First touch, last touch, and multi-touch are common attribution models. For example, a sale might begin with an ad, lead to an email campaign, and end with a phone call from a sales person. With first-touch attribution, the ad would get the entire credit for the sale. With last-touch, the phone call gets all the credit. With multi-touch, the ad, the email and the phone call each get partial credit.

Bounce Rate: A �bounce� is a website visit in which the visitor looked only at the single page they landed on, did not interact with it, and then left the site. The �bounce rate� expresses such visits as a percentage of the total visitor sessions, within a specific time frame.

For example, suppose a website has 100 sessions in one day. (Note that this is different from 100 visitors. Any visitor could visit multiple times, and each time would count as a session.) If 75% of the visits are bounces, then the bounce rate will be 75%. A high bounce rate is often indicative of a poorly designed landing page. It can also indicate that a page completely fulfilled what the visitor was looking for, so the visitor did not need to keep clicking to find out more. (But more often it means the page failed, underscoring how important it is to design landing pages for visitor engagement.)

Brand Awareness: The extent or level to which a potential consumer can recall and identify a particular product or service. Increased brand awareness is one of the two customary important goals for a digital advertising campaign (the other being a conversion of some kind).

Browser: A software program with a graphical interface that people use to navigate all the information available on the World Wide Web. Examples include Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.

Call to Action (CTA): A phrase included within an ad, or a graphic element such as a button, which invites the audience to take a certain action.

Examples include phrases such as �Click to Read More, ��Download Your Free eBook Now, � or �Click Here.�

Channel: A distribution method; In advertising, it’s an outlet used by advertisers to reach audiences, such as direct mail or radio. Digital advertising includes channels such as display advertising, social media advertising, and mobile in-app advertising.

Click-through Rate (CTR): Expressed as a percentage of total impressions, this statistic shows how often people who are served an ad end up clicking on it.

An ad’s CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks an ad received by the number of times it’s been served, then converting that into a percentage. For example, if an ad received 5 clicks and was shown 1000 times, the CTR is 0.5%. The higher the CTR on an ad, the better it’s performing.

Conversion: When launching a campaign, advertisers select a specific action or set of actions they want audiences to take. Each time a member of the audience takes this action, it is counted as a conversion. Conversions include actions such as signing up for a newsletter, or making a purchase on a website.

Conversion Pixel: A 1×1 image pixel placed on a web page (such as a thank-you page) which is triggered whenever a conversion occurs. Usually transparent.

Conversion Rate: Expressed as a percentage, a conversion rate can be calculated in two ways:

  • The first is by the taking the number of users who completed the conversion and dividing it by the total number of impressions served.
  • The second, more common way, is by taking the number of users who completed the conversion and dividing it by the total number of users who clicked on the ad.

Conversion Tracking: Monitoring how many conversions have occurred during any specific time period, and analyzing which ads led to the conversions.

Cookie: Information stored on a website visitor’s browser. A cookie tracks the visitor’s movement on the website and is used to remember the visitor’s behavior and preferences. These do not transfer across browsers.

Copy: Text in an ad, or text written to be delivered audibly.

Cost per Acquisition: The cost of acquiring one customer. Typically calculated by dividing the total amount spent on an advertising campaign by the number of customers acquired through that campaign.

Cost per Click (CPC): How much an advertiser pays, on average, for each ad click. CPC is calculated by dividing the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of clicks generated.

Cost per Lead (CPL): How much an advertiser pays, on average, for each ad click that results in a lead conversion. CPL is calculated by dividing the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of leads generated.

Cost per Thousand (CPM): Metric that shows how much it costs to serve 1,000 ad impressions. Also used as a standard measure for buying display ads, as inventory is generally sold on a CPM basis.

Cross-Device Targeting: Serving the same buyer targeted ads across multiple devices.

Cross-device targeting allows advertisers to reach their audiences in a sequential, repetitive manner regardless of the device they’re on, whether it’s a tablet, desktop or smartphone. This has a similar effect to the old-school tactics of gaining reach and frequency through using a range of channels such as radio + newspaper + billboards + direct mail.

Direct Response: A campaign or ad specifically created to encourage audiences to take immediate action.

Display Advertising: A digital advertising format where graphic ads are shown on a web page. The term originated in newspapers, and the principles still apply.

Display ads can be graphics, videos, interactive images (a quiz or a game), and expandable (Also see: Expandable Banner).

The most common sizes for display ads are:

Banner: 728 x 90
Rectangle: 336 x 280
Skyscraper: 160 x 600
Square: 250 x 250

Email Advertising: Clickable banner ads and links that appear within emails and e-newsletters.

Frequency: The number of times an ad is served to the same consumer during a specific time period.

Since multiple users can often access the Internet from the same device, frequency is calculated based on the number of times an ad is delivered to a particular device’s browser.

Frequency Capping: Setting a limit on the amount of times an ad should be shown to a consumer within a specific time period.

Funnel or Marketing Funnel: A funnel is often used to describe the act of nurturing a prospect through multiple stages of a "sales" process, although it applies to many other processes. Typically, you have 3 stages of the funnel:

The Awareness stage - where prospects are in the early stages of learning about your school. They are usually not looking to purchase or make a decision right away. They are researching. Example search phrases are "What is Montessori education?" or "Famous people who were Montessori educated"

The Evaluation Stage - where prospects are aware of who you are and are evaluating your school vs other similar options. Typically these people are not quite ready to make a decision or purchase, but are headed down that path. Example search phrases are "Montessori school reviews near me" or "Differences between Montessori education and elementary school"

The Conversion Stage - where prospects are ready to make a decision or purchase. They're usually just looking for the right school. Example search terms are "Best Montessori school near me" or "what to look for in a Montessori school".

These stages are also referred to many times as Top of Funnel (ToFu), Middle of Funnel (MoFu), and Bottom of Funnel (BoFu). The technique of navigating prospects through these different stages is called Full Funnel Marketing.

This is where a lot of funnels end, but in reality there are two more stages to look at which happen after a prospect has converted. These are:

The Loyalty Stage - where prospects fall in love with your school and become loyal to you. This is usually the result of efforts by the school to delight the parent and child and provide wonderful experiences, usually with the level of service or by truly investing in their child.

The Advocacy Stage - where your prospects are so happy with your school that they actively promote it to their friends and family. They will defend you against criticism and become your most powerful and effective form of marketing. If you think of "word of mouth", these are those people.


Geographic Targeting: Selecting an audience for a campaign based on zip codes, designated marketing area (DMA), cities, states and countries.

Impression: See: Ad Impression

In-Stream Video Ads: Video ads played before, during or after the video content the publisher is delivering to the consumer.

Keyword: A specific word or phrase chosen by advertisers to trigger and include their ad within search engine results. The advertiser doing contextual advertising also chooses keywords, so that their ad will show up within pages that are returned for that keyword.

In search advertising, the position of the ad within the results is determined by bidding. The highest bidder on a keyword usually gets the top position.

Landing Page: The web page users are directed to after they click on a display or paid search ad.

Lead: A potential customer. In digital advertising a lead is someone who has given you their contact information, often by signing up for a newsletter or filling out a form to download an eBook or other gated content.

Lead Magnet: A lead magnet refers to something of value that you offer to your website visitors in exchange for their contact information. Typically, a lead magnet is very specific and is meant to qualify the kind of person who would opt-in. For example, a Montessori school shouldn't offer a webinar on "How to landscape your school" if they're trying to engage potential parents. A good lead magnet here would be a PDF called "5 ways you can use Montessori Education at Home". If someone opts-in (that is, gives their information so they can get this offer), it's pretty safe to assume that this person is highly interested in Montessori Education and should be considered a high quality lead.

Lookalike Audience: A Lookalike Audience targets people who are similar to your existing customers which helps improve your conversion rates. You can use Lookalike Audiences when you’re running online display, Facebook, mobile display or just about any other kind of digital marketing campaign.

Mobile Search: Any Internet search conducted via a mobile device.

Native Advertising: Any paid advertising that is indistinguishable in form from the channel being used to present it.

Examples of native advertising include sponsored content on news websites and Facebook timeline ads.

Overlay: Advertising that floats over webpage content, graphics or videos. Overlays cannot be blocked by ad-blocking software. One kind of overlay is called a �lightbox.� These ads begin as a standard, scalable ad unit. If a user engages by hovering over the ad for some set amount of time (often two seconds), the ad expands (to as much as near full-page), while the page behind it dims, increasing emphasis on the ad. Advertisers pay for the number of times the ad is expanded.

Paid Search: The placement of ads within search engine results.

Pay per Click (PPC): An acronym for Pay-Per-Click advertising. This refers to a type of online advertising where you place your ads in front of a specific audience where you only get charged if someone clicks on your ad. You literally pay per click. The amount you pay depends on the competition for the specific keyword you are advertising for. Examples are: Google AdWords, certain Facebook Ads, Bing Ads

Pop-up: Opens in a new browser window that loads on top of the current webpage. Pop-ups are operated by script (e.g., Javascript); thus, can be blocked � and commonly are � by a wide variety of available software.

Reach: The total number of people who see your message. One person who is served your ad five times and clicks on it once yields a reach of 1, 5 impressions, and a click-through rate of 20%.

Retargeting/Remarketing: Serving ads to people who have previously visited your website.

Rich Media: Interactive media such as quizzes, games, and ads with video and special effects. This category is growing quickly. Check out the IAB�s �Rising Stars� examples of new types of ad units such as the Pushdown and the Sidekick.

Search Advertising: Another term for �Paid Search. �

SEM: An acronym for Search Engine Marketing. This refers to strategically advertising on search engines (i.e. Google AdWords) for certain key phrases. If you see an ad at the very top of Google search results, that is Search Engine Marketing in action.

SEO: An acronym for Search Engine Optimization. This refers to the strategy behind optimizing your website for search engines to understand your website and rank you highly for your desired search phrases. There are two kinds of SEO you might come across: Black Hat and White Hat.

Black Hat SEO is considered unethical and will get you into big trouble with search engines if you're caught doing it. This includes purchasing links to your website, inflating your website traffic with bots, repeating your keywords too many times on a page (keyword stuffing) in an attempt to manipulate the search, and others.

White Hat SEO is SEO done correctly, which means that you follow the guidelines provided by Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc, and focus on creating the best possible visitor experience. Truth be told, as long as you focus on the user experience and produce high quality and engaging content, you will never have to worry about SEO.

Social Advertising: Running paid ads on online social networking platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

View Through: Used to measure a consumer’s behavior after they’ve been served an ad. If the �view through� window is set to 90 days, the consumer’s relevant actions within that time period can be attributed to the ad.

So, if a customer purchases a pair of headphones within 90 days of being served an ad for those headphones, the ad will be get partial or full attribution for that purchase.

Last updated on 28th June 2021

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