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Digital Advertising Terms You Need to Know

June 13, 2023

In a space that’s always changing, there is one constant: keeping up with the lingo! Explore our digital advertising glossary to get up to speed with the terminology marketers need to know.

Digital Advertising Platforms

  • Google Ads: Serves Display ads across any site or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ads within Google search results.
  • LinkedIn: Serves Display ads in LinkedIn feeds.
  • Meta: Owns Facebook and Instagram. Display ads can serve on both of these platforms in a variety of formats.
  • StackAdapt: Allows Display ads to be shown on any site based on targeting. Offers access to third-party audience segments that are often more granular than targeting options on other platforms.
  • El Toro: IP Targeting platform. Can serve ads to anyone with devices connected to specific IP addresses, or devices that have been to a specific location. Location can be as granular as an individual building based on geofencing settings.

Campaign Reporting Terms

  • Assets: Optional additional ad components that can help show relevant information to users, such as a phone number, address, links to popular pages, service offerings or images. Assets appear as part of the ad.
  • Call to action (CTA): The action you want users to take upon seeing your ad, conveyed through short phrases such as “learn more,” “sign up,” “contact us today,” etc.
  • Clicks: Number of clicks that occurred anywhere on your ad in a given time frame. Users may or may not have gotten to and interacted with your landing page after clicking.
  • Clickthrough rate (CTR): Percentage of users that clicked your ad compared to all users who saw it. (Formula: clicks divided by impressions.)
  • Conversion: When a user takes an action that is important to your business. Can vary in level of engagement (e.g., visiting your landing page, submitting a contact form, opening an accordion on your site, applying for a job or making a donation).
  • Conversion rate: Percentage of clicks that led to a conversion action. (Formula: conversions divided by clicks.) 
  • Display ads: Ads consisting of an image or video incorporating elements of your brand. Text may be built into the image. Display ads are shown while users are browsing anywhere on the web based on the targeting input to the campaign, so there is no active intent from the user’s end. The goal of Display ads is to build brand awareness by reaching many users. Their audience is not necessarily familiar with your brand or showing any existing intent to search for your product. It is normal for Display ads to have a much lower clickthrough rate than SEM ads (around 0.5%–1%).
  • Geolocation/Geotargeting: Location targeting to show ads only to users in a certain geographical area. Can include users who have recently been within the targeted area.
  • Google Analytics (GA/GA4): Tool used to track all website traffic and activity (not just paid ads). Can track conversion data similar to ads platforms. (Psst, we wrote an article about this!)
  • IP targeting: Targeting based on IP addresses, therefore reaching all devices in a household or building.
  • Frequency: Average number of times each user in your audience has seen your ad in a given time period. (Formula: impressions divided by reach.)
  • Impressions: Total number of times your ad has been seen. A single user can have multiple impressions.
  • Landing page: URL on your website that a user is directed to (lands on) after clicking your ad. May be a page that already exists on your site, or may be created for the purpose to send ad traffic.
  • Leads: Prospective clients who have interacted with your business in some way.
  • Link clicks: Clicks directly on the call to action button or URL in your ad.
  • Lookalike targeting: A targeting list built based on an uploaded audience list that contains users who have similar characteristics and are therefore likely to be interested in your business.
  • Reach: Total number of users that have seen (or are expected to see) your ad.
  • Responsive ads (SEM or Display): Ads that involve supplying up to 15 headlines and four descriptions, allowing the search engine to create an ad using the three headlines and two descriptions that fit best with the search intent each time. This allows for better ad optimization. Responsive Display ads also utilize an image from multiple options you supply.
  • Retargeting: Tactic to reach users who have already been exposed to your brand through your website or an ad. Sometimes contains a more direct call to action, such as “take another look.”
  • Search ads/Search Engine Marketing (SEM) ads: Text-only ads that display at the top of search engine results pages and appear similar to a regular search result. Contain headlines, descriptions, and a landing page URL. Use keyword targeting to determine which searches ads should show for. The goal of SEM ads is to reach users who are already searching for your product or service. As a result, they will have much higher clickthrough rates than Display ads (around 5%).
  • Third-party targeting: Targeting based on data you do not collect directly from your prospects, but rather that another company has aggregated and sold for use.

Keyword-Related Terms

  • Keywords: Words that you pay to target when users search them because they are a good fit for your business. In order for your ad to match well, keywords will need to be used directly in your ad copy. Keywords apply to SEM ads only.
  • Search term: The phrase a user typed in their browser search bar that caused your ad to appear in their search results due to matching with your targeted keywords.

Match Types

  • Broad match: Ads may show on searches that are related to your keyword, which can include searches that don’t contain the direct meaning or exact words of your keywords.
  • Phrase match: Ads may show on searches that include the meaning of your keyword.
  • Exact match: Ads may show on searches that have the same meaning or same intent as the keyword. Of the three keyword matching options, exact match gives you the most control over who views your ad, but reaches fewer searches than both phrase and broad match.
  • Negative match: Negative keywords exclude your ads from showing on searches containing that term.

Not sure where to start?

Whew, that’s a lot of information! Our digital marketing team is expert at breaking it all down, helping you to build your digital marketing strategy, understand reports, and use results to optimize performance.

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