Ad Tech Glossary

We understand that programmatic advertising has the ability to confuse and be a little overwhelming, with its massive amount of different terms and phrases. Let us break it down for you, term by term from A to Y. (Ad) tag along.

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We understand that programmatic advertising has the ability to confuse and be a little overwhelming, with its massive amount of different terms and phrases. What are SSP, DSP, and DMP? And how do CPA, CTR, and CPM differ from each other? Let us break it down for you, term by term from A to Y. (Ad) tag along.


A/B Testing

Testing with two variables A & B to measure different versions of the same element at the same time. 

Above The Fold [ATF] 

This refers to the upper half of a website. The ATF can be considered the most viewable and valuable part of a website since it’s visible without having to scroll. 

Ad Audience 

The people that get or could get exposed to an ad. Ad audience is usually measured for a specific time frame e.g. ad running time. 


Internet extensions allow web browsers to block some of the ads that would appear on the page if AdBlock would not be enabled. 

Ad Campaign

An ad campaign is a marketing attempt consisting of multiple advertisements with the same message published on multiple channels. Usually, an ad campaign has a specific set goal.

Ad Exchange 

The technology platform that functions as the broker between publishers and advertisers. Automated technology is used to sell publishers' inventory through an auction-minded process. 

Ad Fraud

Ad fraud is an attempt to fool someone within digital advertising with the attempt to gain money through fraudulent activity. Ad fraud can come in form of fake traffic, fake leads, or click fraud for example. 

Ad Impression 

Ads are displayed on a browser on an application and ad impressions are the total number of times the ad has been displayed. 

Ad Inventory 

The potential amount of ad space a publisher has available to sell. The inventory depends on the number of impressions the publisher's site has. If publisher X has 1000 visitors to their website and 5 ad spaces available, their ad inventory would be 5000 impressions.

Ad Network 

A company that functions as the linkage between publishers and advertisers. The ad network aggregates ad supply from publishers with advertisers’ demand for ad units. 

Ad Server 

A piece of tech used by publishers and advertisers that manages online advertising. The buying and selling of ads between advertisers and publishers was a manual process in the beginning, before quickly realizing a more efficient way was needed, and the ad server was born. 

Ad Tag 

An ad tag is a piece of code that allows a website to communicate with an ad partner and serve a relevant ad. 

Ad Targeting

Ads can be served to a specific audience, based on geographic location for example. Ad targeting aims to show relevant ads to people. 

Ad Tech

Ad Tech is a shortcut of Advertising Technology and is a broadly used term regarding different types of tools and technologies used within digital advertising. 

Ad Tracking 

A way of monitoring ad campaign performance and results. 

Ad Units 

Specification of the space where ads are displayed. Size is based on width x height in pixels. IAB has a set of industry-wide guidelines for ad sizes, view the IAB New Ad Portfolio here:


An advertisement is a piece of information that has the function of promoting a product, service, or brand. An advertisement can come in form of visual, textual, or audio. 


Person or company that wishes to advertise on available ad space. 


An agency represents an organization that helps companies with strategic work and decisions. 

Agency trading desk 

A team of experts that executes online media buying as a managed service. They help advertisers optimize their advertising campaigns and are in charge of the buying process for their clients. 


A ‘formula’ for solving a problem based on systematic procedures. 


Abbreviation of Application Programming Interface, which is a set of tools and routines for building software applications.

Audience extension

Audience extension is a technology that allows digital publishers to generate revenue from their web traffic by allowing advertisers to reach out to their audience far beyond their website.

Average position 

Google’s definition of its own term average position is: “A static that describes how your ad typically ranks against other ads. This rank determines in which order ads appear on the page.”



The common online ad format is also known under the term display ad. Banner ads are graphical elements embedded into a web page or application. Graphical elements usually include something or multiple of the following: images, text, video, and a message call-to-action.

Below the fold [BTF] 

This refers to the lower half of a website. The BTF can be considered the less viewable part of a website since it isn’t visible without having to scroll. 


The maximum value advertisers indicate they are willing to pay in an auction for an ad placement. 

Blacklist or Blocklist

Database of websites that are suspected to perform fraudulent practices and/or inappropriate content. 

Bot Traffic

Automatically generated traffic by non-human traffic called bots. Bot traffic is fraudulent, useless, and harmful. 

Bounce rate

Percentage of visitors that leave a web page almost immediately without navigating further to other sites. 

Brand Safety 

A set of measures to protect the advertiser’s brand from appearing on an inappropriate website. Adult content, illegal activities, political and religious opinions along with violence among others can be considered inappropriate sites.



A click is the action of someone clicking a digital ad. Clicks are often measured in amounts of times someone has clicked the ad. 

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting of ads means that you actively place a specific category of ads on a specific website. For example children’s clothing on a motherhood blog. You use keywords and pixels to perform contextual targeting. 


A conversion is when a recipient performs the desired action. You can measure ad campaign effectiveness by measuring conversions. 


A piece of data that is placed and stored on a website to collect and store information about the user. 

CPA [cost-per-action] 

Cost per action is a payment method where you consider the amount of action that has taken place and pay accordingly. Payment only has to be made when a specific considered action, like for instance a conversion, takes place. 

CPC [cost-per-click]

Cost per click is a payment method where an advertiser pays for every click a user performs. Calculate the cost by dividing the total cost of clicks by the total number of clicks.

CPM [cost-per-mille] 

Cost per mille is a payment method where the price is set at 1000 ad impressions per ad unit. This means that a certain amount is paid when an ad has been shown 1000 times on a website. 


A creative is any type of ad that is created with the purpose of drawing attention. A creative can consist of images, video, text, and other elements that create an interactive experience. 

CTR  [click-through rate]

The Click-through rate is a measure of how many times someone has clicked an ad compared to how many times the ad has been shown. A high CTR is good, as it generally shows interest in the ad.


DMP [Data Management Platform]

A data management platform is a system that collects and analyzes first-second and third-party data and allows companies to make informed decisions. 

DSP [Demand Side Platform] 

A demand-side platform is software that enables automated buying of ad placements. By using a DSP you can optimize ad buying across many networks from a single software platform.


eCPM [effective cost per mille]

Effective cost per mille is a metric that measures the revenue for ads. You calculate it by dividing the total ad revenue by the total amount of impressions and multiplying by 1000. eCPM is mainly used by publishers to track revenue generated from their websites. The higher eCPM, the better revenue.


Fill Rate 

The fill rate measures how much of the publisher's ad space available has been bought. The higher the fill rate you have, the more money you make (in general). A low fill rate indicates that a lot of potential ad space is not monetized effectively. 

First Look 

The first look is a unique collaboration between seller and buyer. This method means giving the buyer a first look at what is being sold, with the opportunity to buy inventory for a fixed price, before it goes to auction. 

Floor Price

The floor price is basically the minimum price of the inventory being auctioned out. There are two types of price floors sellers can give out, hard and soft price floors. A hard price floor is a minimum price the seller will accept for its inventory in the ad exchange. A soft price floor, on the other hand, is a test floor, of what the seller possibly could get for its inventory. 

Frequency Cap 

Frequency capping is when a limit is set to the number of ad impressions shown to the same user during a time period. Frequency capping is used to minimize the risk of over-exposure of the same ad to the same person.



Geo-targeting means that you enable ads to show according to a user’s specific geographical location. Geo-targeting is used to increase the relevancy of ads.


Header Bidding

Header bidding is a method where publishers offer their inventory to various ad exchanges before opening the ad servers. Header bidding allows for multiple demands to bid on the same inventory simultaneously, guaranteeing that the ad is sold for the most competitive price.


IAB [The Interactive Advertising Bureau]

IAB is an organization for the digital marketing and advertising ecosystem. IAB’s mission is to promote industry collaboration to deliver frameworks, standards and industry programmes that enables business to thrive. 


An Impression is in theory a metric used to measure the number of times a digital ad has been displayed on a website. In other words, impressions equal ad views. 

Interstitial Ad

An interstitial ad is a type of ad format, where the ad temporarily covers a part of the content on a website. Interstitial ads generate a high amount of impressions but can harm the user experience. 


Ad inventory refers to the amount of space and ad units a publisher has available to sell on the website.


Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising refers to any form of advertising that appears on a mobile device instead of a desktop. Mobile advertising has increased rapidly during the last decade due to the development of smartphones and tablets.


Native ads

Native ads are ads that are on purpose imitating the existing look and feel of the website and look like a part of the editorial content. Native ads are categorized as less disruptive, as they look like the website. 

Non-human traffic 

Non-human traffic refers to traffic that is generated by non-humans like bots, and that generates inaccurate measures. Non-human traffic is worthless and can harm a website a lot.


Opt-in consent

Opt-in consent is a permission to track website visitors for advertising purposes.



A pageview is when a webpage is being loaded in the web browser. You calculate pageview by the total number of times a page has been viewed or refreshed within a certain amount of time. 

PMP [private marketplace]

A private marketplace or PMP is an exclusive marketplace for invites only, where publishers sell their inventory directly to selected buyers. 


Pop-up ads are ads that usually appear in a new browser window. They used to gain a lot of impressions as they were difficult to avoid but were harmful to user experience. There are tools that disable pop-up ads today, so their value has decreased. 

Preferred Deal

Preferred deals are a negotiation between the buyer and the seller to buy inventory for a fixed price, instead of buying through an auction. 


A short ad that is being shown before a video is being played. 

Programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is when media online is bought and sold through automated technology systems. 

Programmatic media buying

Programmatic media buying uses automated systems, data and algorithms to buy ads at the right time and place. 


The publisher is or represents the owner of the website with ad inventory that is being sold to advertisers.


rCPM [real cost per mille]

Real cost per mille is a useful metric for both publishers and advertisers. rCPM measures the real revenue gained per 1000 ad requests. rCPM is calculated by dividing total ad revenue by total ad requests and multiplying by 1000. 

Real-time bidding

Real-time bidding is a way of buying media. The media is as the name suggests, bought in real-time, and if the bid is won, the buyer's ad is instantly placed on the website. The whole process is happening within a fraction of a second, without the user being aware of it. 


Retargeting is when a targeting pixel is placed on a website, and an ad is shown only to a certain user that has visited the site before and have shown interest towards the product or service displayed in the ad in the past. 

Revenue share model

The revenue share model is a pricing method where two parties agree to share revenue based on a specific model. Revenue share can be for instance a fixed price or a percentage of sales or commission. 

Rich Media

Rich media is an ad that includes interactive features like video, audio or animation. Rich media can also extend in size and feature and is used to encourage users to engage with the content. 

ROAS [return on ad spend]

Return on ad spend is an important measure that calculates the amount of revenue earned per amount spent on an ad campaign. ROAS is calculated by dividing the total campaign revenue by the total campaign cost.


SSP [supply-side platform] 

A supply-side platform is a technological system that helps publishers sell their available inventory to demand-side platforms, ad networks, and ad exchanges.


Tracking Pixel

A tracking pixel is a tiny piece of code used to track user data with the purpose of improving and optimizing digital advertising campaigns. There are different kinds of pixels available like retargeting pixels and conversion pixels.


Video Ads

Video ads are ads that include motion and sound and tend to draw a lot of attention. There are different types of video ads like in-stream ads that plays before or during another video or banner video ads that are played in the content. 


Viewability is a metric used to measure the effectiveness of impressions, meaning the percentage of impressions seen by a website visitors. There are certain standards that need to be met in order for an ad to be considered “viewable”.



A whitelist is a list of website that is considered approved by advertisers. In order to be whitelisted you need to have a good reputation, good traffic and appropriate content. Whitelists are used to ensure brand safety and a guarantee for companies that their ads are not shown on malicious sites.

Win Rate

Win rate is a measure that shows the effectiveness of a bid strategy. In order to calculate the win rate, you need to divide the total number of impressions by the number of bids submitted.


Yield Optimization 

Yield optimization uses data to optimize performance and revenue. Yield optimization is used to maximize the value of digital advertising.