Advertising 15 Min Read

Ad Tech Glossary: Ultimate Edition

Written by Tim Edmundson

There’s a lot to know when it comes to ad tech – which is why we’ve assembled this handy glossary of ad tech terms to help you get a handle on everything that’s out there.

This may be out of order, but we thought it might make sense to start with the topic at hand:

  • Ad Tech
    • Full name advertising technology, refers to all of the software, platforms, and methods used in ad campaigns which are run through digital channels.


  • Ad Agency
    • Companies that work with advertisers’ marketers and brand managers to plan and execute ad campaigns, from start to finish. They can also specialize in areas like media buying or creative. 
  • Ad Exchange
    • A tech platform that allows the buying and selling of ad inventory and media across multiple ad networks. This takes place through the process of real-time bidding.
  • Ad Fraud
    • When an ad is served and not viewed by an actual person (sometimes because it is unviewable) but is recorded as an engagement and the advertiser is charged.
  • Ad Network
    • A company that basically works as the middle-man between advertisers and publishers, helping to sell ad inventory in the right place through the use of programmatic buying.
  • Ad Server
    • Any server that stores and delivers digital ads to a targeted user’s desktop, TV, or mobile device. 
  • Ad Tag
    • A piece of code that is used to place an ad on the publisher’s website in the correct position and location 
  • Ad Targeting
    • When ads are strategically placed in front of users who have exhibited desired traits or interests, attempting to reach specific groups that are more likely to be interested in the offering.
  • Advertiser
    • A person, brand, or company that promotes a service or product. In the context of ad tech this is usually through digital means.
  • Advertising Suite
  • Addressable TV
    • With addressable TV ads, each household watching the same program will see different ads. Addressable TV advertising allows advertisers to target specific audiences with each advertisement. 
  • Attribution
    • When a desired outcome is reached in a campaign (usually a conversion), attribution is assigned to the events and touchpoints that lead to that conversion. 
  • Audience Extension
  • Automated Media Buying
    • A process through which technology automatically targets and engages with audience segments without the need for human interference. 


  • Behavioral Targeting
    • A method of using website data to target and serve ads that will be most relevant to targeted audiences, based on their online behavior. 
  • Blacklist
    • A list of sites that an advertising team has designated as not acceptable for serving their ads.
  • Bots
    • Non-human traffic that often imitates the activity of real users in order to generate fake impressions. 
  • Brand Marketing / Brand Advertising
    • Brand advertising focuses on the ethos, image, and identity of a company as the main avenue through which to speak to their consumers. This often involves the use of carefully targeted ads so as to put creative in front of the right audience. 
  • Brand Safety
    • Refers to the concept of ensuring a brand’s advertisements do not run alongside objectionable or offensive content, thus ensuring the brand is not associated with that type of subject matter. 


  • Campaign
    • A marketing plan that aligns with the goals of a company by driving conversions, revenue, or traffic. It’s how a brand’s message and creative is delivered to audiences. 
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
    • The percentage of users who see a link or advertisement and then click through to the next page. (Clicks / Impressions)
  • Cloud
    • Any storage, server, or application system that is located within the internet rather than a physical location. 
  • Connected TV
    • Connected TV is digital content accessed by apps and streamed over smart TVs, mobile, or OTT devices. 

Want more info on Connected TV? We compiled this cheat sheet with all the essential terminology for any marketer interested in advertising on this fast-growing channel.

  • Connected TV Retargeting
    • In a Connected TV retargeting campaign, users who have visited a digital or mobile website will be targeted with relevant ads on their Smart TVs and while streaming TV content on other connected devices.
  • Content Marketing
    • A form of marketing that uses digital channels to create and share materials that provide information on topics relevant to that particular company’s products or services. 
  • Contextual Data
    • Information that provides a broader picture of information relevant to a specific person or event.
  • Conversion
    • A pre-set indicator of a successful user action during an ad campaign. Often it is defined as a purchase or a lead.
  • Conversion Funnel
    • The sales process by which a marketer turns prospects into conversions. Usually involves multiple steps, starting with creating awareness of the brand and ending with an action on the part of the customer.
  • Cookie
    • Files that are stored on computers which allow companies to identify a user in order to customize their experience on a website.
  • Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
    • Also called Cost per Action, this refers to the average cost to the advertiser it takes to drive a single conversion. The formula is cost / number of acquisitions
  • Cost per Click (CPC)
    • Also known as Pay per Click, in this pricing model an advertiser pays the publisher whenever an ad is clicked. 
  • Cost per Completed View (CPCV)
    • How much an advertiser will pay for each completed ad view. The formula for CPCV is advertising cost / completed video view. 
  • Cost per Visit
    • How much an advertiser pays for each site visit during the life of a digital marketing campaign. The formula is (total store revenue / the number of visits).
  • Creative
    • In the context of ad tech, creative is the promotional materials used to advertise the desired product or service. These can take the form of digital ad units like banner ads, videos, and more. 
  • Cross-Device Attribution
    • Helps to measure and report the value of conversions as a user engages in content on each of their personal devices. This allows advertisers to better track a user’s behavior across devices. 
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)
    • Software programs that help businesses track leads and user behavior, manage customer data, and sometimes provide partner and customer support.


  • Data Management
    • The process of understanding and engaging with the behavior of users in order to better drive marketing campaigns.
  • Data Management Platform (DMP)
    • Platforms that collect and analyze data for marketers, and use third-party data to better paint a picture of a user’s behavior. 
  • Data usage
    • How marketers use consumer data in a regulated and legal way to target and better serve the interests of desired audiences. 
  • Deal ID
    • A number that identifies a specific automated ad buy – these are used to identify ads that are designated for preferential pricing. Think of it like a coupon code for an ad buy that identifies an ad as being part of a special deal. 
  • Demand Side Platform (DSP)
    • A platform that allows marketers to buy digital ad inventory within one interface, in order to make the tracking and serving of ads much easier. 
  • Digital Advertising
    • Any marketing or advertising that takes place on internet compatible devices.
  • Digital Marketing
    • Marketing a product or service to a specific audience through the use of digital channels such as desktop or mobile.
  • Digital Media
    • Any digital creative assets used in online advertising, including banner ads, digital video, mobile ads, and social marketing. 
  • Display Advertising
    • Also called ‘desktop’ or ‘web,’ this is advertising that is served on websites. This includes multiple formats, including video and still-images to convey the intended advertising message. 
  • Display Retargeting
    • Advertising on computers, tablets, and mobile devices that puts relevant, targeted creative in front of users after they have visited a website. 
  • Dynamic Spend Optimization
    • A technology that automatically leverages new data in real time to optimize marketing campaigns and allocate budgets to go towards the channels and inventory to drive the best performance.

Looking to put your newfound ad tech expertise to work? Request a demo to see how we can help you launch retargeting campaigns across display and mobile, and Connected TV campaigns with SteelHouse Performance TV.


  • eCPA (Effective Cost per Acquisition)
    • An estimate of the CPA if an advertiser measures it with conversions rather than impressions. The formula is: total spend / number of actions.
  • eCPM (Effective Cost per Thousand Impressions)
    • An estimate of revenue per 1000 impressions. The formula is: (ad earnings / total number of impressions) X 1000.
  • Email Marketing
    • The promotion of a company or brand through the use of targeted, creative emails.


  • First-Party Data
    • This is data sourced from a brand’s own marketing efforts, and provides a good idea of who an ideal audience would be. This data can include behavioral data from a website, customer email lists, and subscription data.
  • Frequency
    • How often a single ad is served to the same user. 
  • Frequency Capping
    • Allows marketers to limit the number of times a single user will be served the same ad. This prevents viewers from seeing the same ad too many times and experiencing ad fatigue.
  • Full-Episode Player (FEP)
    • “Full-episode player” (FEP) refers to professionally produced content that can appear on any device type, across both apps and web browsers. This means that the content is television length, typically 30-60 minutes, with commercial breaks in between. 


  • Geofencing 
    • Tech that enables advertisers to serve ads to users within a specific area. 
  • Geo-Targeting
    • When ad content is served to targeted users based on their location.
  • Google Analytics
    • A free platform provided by Google that allows marketers to see the stats and analytics of their website for SEO and marketing purposes.
  • Guaranteed Buy
    • When a publisher negotiates with an advertiser to assign a price and terms to specific inventory that will be reserved for only that advertiser.


  • Household
    • A collection of devices that are located in the same location, usually a single family home. Tracking households allows marketers to serve similar ads to the same users across all of their devices.


  • IAB
    • The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) sets the standards for the digital advertising industry along with conducting research and providing legal support for ad tech and marketing companies. 
  • Impression
    • When an advertisement is rendered and then viewed on a user’s screen while they are visiting a web-page.
  • In-stream Video
    • Video advertisements that are placed within another relevant video. This can take place in pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll. 
  • In-App Advertising
    • Advertising that takes place within an app that a consumer has downloaded onto their mobile device
  • Internet TV
    • Any television that has a built-in connected to the internet. Also called a Smart TV.
  • Inventory
    • This content is made up of all of the ad media and ad space that a publisher has available for an advertiser to purchase.


  • KPI 
    • Key Performance Indicator, referring to a metric tied to a key goal of the company.


  • Landing Page
    • A web page to which potential leads are directed after engaging with marketing call-to-actions. Landing pages are designed to drive conversions and convey essential information about an offer.
  • Last Click Attribution
  • Linear TV
    • Linear TV is the same thing as traditional television viewing. Viewers can watch linear TV through cable or satellite services, or even through over-the-air broadcasts.
  • Live Streaming
    •  “Live streaming” means that the television content you’re watching is being streamed in real time over the internet. This live content is usually delivered by a paid streaming service, or directly by the network. Sporting events are an example. 
  • Living Room Quality Connected TV
    • Live or on-demand, ad-supported programming through an internet connection from blue chip broadcast and content companies. 
  • Look-Alike Audience Modeling
    • Models that take a smaller group of targeted users and identify similar audiences based on specific characteristics, that allow a marketer to build a larger audience targeting group.
  • Long-form Video
    • Videos with a longer-than-usual format. That often means a video that is longer than 60 seconds, but there is no set standard to define the length. 

Looking to put your newfound ad tech expertise to work? Request a demo today.


  • Marketing Analytics
    • Metrics that help marketers manage, analyze, and ultimately determine the effectiveness of an ad campaign
  • Media Buying
    • When an advertiser purchases ad space from a publisher. In the context of ad tech, this process is usually predefined and then performed programmatically.
  • Media Plan
    • A detailed plan that defines the strategy, audience, and objectives of a marketing campaign. 
  • Mobile
    • One of the channels through which marketers can advertise within digital marketing – mobile includes devices like smartphones and tablets.


  • Native Advertising
    • Paid media that looks and acts like the environment in which it lives. As an example, many native ads on Facebook look similar to organic posts within its news feed.


  • Omni-channel
    • Advertising that takes place across multiple devices and channels, in order to provide a seamless experience for users and potential customers.
  • Optimization
    • The process of maximizing the desired efforts of a brand’s marketing effort by focusing on a specific goal. 
  • Over The Top (OTT)
    • OTT content goes “over” your cable box to give you access to TV content using an internet connection, as opposed to a cable or broadcast provider.


  • Performance Advertising
    • Channels and campaigns designed to drive measurable results. Social, search, and Connected TV are examples of performance advertising channels. 
  • Performance Advertising Agency
    • An agency that provides performance advertising services to a company or marketer for their brand.
  • Performance TV
    • Refers to Connected TV advertising which focuses on performance marketing. It enables marketers to launch retargeting and prospecting campaigns on Connected TV from one intuitive platform
  • Performance TV Metrics
    • These are in-line with traditional digital performance metrics such as cost per view, visit rate, ROAS, and other mainstays. It’s data gathered by a marketer to measure the success of a campaign run through a Performance TV ad campaign. 
  • Performance Marketing
    • Marketing that is focused on specific outcomes, usually ones that affect the bottom line. Unlike brand marketing, which focuses on raising awareness, performance marketing places an emphasis on driving users to take action. 
  • Performance Marketing Agency
    • An agency that runs their campaigns with performance driven marketing in mind.
  • Performance Marketing Channels
    • Connected TV (specifically Performance TV), social , display retargeting,  and search are examples of performance marketing channels. 
  • Performance Marketing Metrics
    • The analytics that define and indicate the success of a performance marketing campaign.
  • Programmatic
  • Programmatic Buying
    • The process of defining the criteria that will allow programmatic technology to automatically bid on a marketer’s desired audience.
  • Programmatic Software
    • Software with programmatic capabilities, that allows an advertiser to take advantage of real-time and targeted bidding. 
  • Programmatic TV
    • A form of traditional and Connected TV advertising with a data-driven slant. Certain TV ad slots are available to purchase through DSPs, who have access to audience data.
  • Programmatic Video
    • Video ads that are served programmatically to a previously defined audience. 
  • Prospecting
    • Campaigns that go out and find users who are new to a brand, and drive them to a desired site so they can enter a sales funnel. 
  • Publisher
    • The company or partner that displays a digital ad on their website. 


  • Reach
    • A metric that indicates the amount of users or households that are served an ad impression. 
  • Retargeting
  • Retargeting Platforms
    • A digital service that allows advertisers to manage, run, and analyze their retargeting campaigns all in one interface.
  • Real-time-bidding (RTB)
    • Bidding that takes place in real-time through programmatic auctions. This allows for more efficiency within the digital advertising industry. 
  • Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS)
    • A marketing metric that measures the success of an ad campaign by comparing the revenue to the cost of running the campaign. The formula is revenue / cost of advertisements.


  • Search Advertising
    • When marketers advertise by displaying links to ad content within search engine queries. 
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    • A digital marketing tactic that involves the use of specific terms and links within a website to increase the profile of the web pages in a search engine. 
  • Second-Party Data
    • When first-party data is sold to marketers to supplement their own data, it becomes second-party data. 
  • Segmentation
    • The practice of dividing a group of individuals into smaller groups that are made up of people who are similar in certain respects, narrowing your campaigns down to the users you want to reach.
  • Short-form Video
    • Videos used in advertisements that are a shorter format. Usually anywhere from 6 to 60 seconds long. 
  • Smart TV
    • If you’re buying a big screen these days, you’re most likely buying a Smart TV. This is a television with a built-in connection to the internet, no sticks or dongles required.
  • Social
    • Marketing that takes place on social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. 
  • Social Media Management Software (SMMS)
    • Software platform that allows marketers to organize and engage with their social media accounts in one place. 
  • SOV
    • Stands for Share of Voice, which in advertising terms is the percent of the market owned by a brand compared to its competitors. Can also refer to the amount of inventory available to a company compared to its competitors. 
  • Streaming
    • Video content that is served in real time over an internet service. 
  • Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD)
    • Subscription video on demand is a subscription streaming video service that allows user to have unlimited access to on-demand programs. Examples include Netflix and Hulu.
  • Supply-side Platform (SSP)
    • Technology platform that allows publishers to sell and manage their digital ad inventory with advertisers.

Looking to put your newfound ad tech expertise to work? Request a demo today.


  • Targeting
    • Allows an advertiser to deliver an ad to the most relevant users by assigning it to an audience with pre-selected behavioral or demographical criteria.
  • Third-party Data
    • A collection of anonymous web-browsing data sourced from external data partners. Examples include email addresses & phone numbers, purchase histories, social media profiles, and cookies.
  • Tracking Pixel
    • An HTML code snippet that is placed on a website to track user behavior and get data on conversions. 
  • Transparency
    • When an advertising solution provider discloses all pricing, mark-ups, and delivery locations in the attribution and reporting process.


  • User Acquisition
    • An advertising strategy that is focused on the process of gaining new users for a platform or service.


  • VAST Tag
    • An ad tag generated by an ad server that is specific to video advertising. 
  • Verified Visits
    • SteelHouse technology that measures any user visits to your site following the guaranteed in-view display of your ads, in a window of time defined by you.
  • Video Ads
    • Ads featuring moving visual images that can be used to advertise a brand, product, or service. 
  • Video Advertising
    • Ads that use videos in a digital channel to promote a product of service. Generally viewed as a high-performing format for advertising, and drives high engagement with users.
  • Video on Demand (VOD)
    • Allows users to watch the content they like at the times they want to watch it. VOD content is available to stream or download after it airs live.
  • Viewability
    • An IAB defined marketing metric that measures whether an ad impression is actually being seen, or if it was served on a site too slowly or below the fold. 
  • View-Through Rate (VTR)
    • The percentage of users who viewed an ad over the course of a campaign. The formula is views / total ads served.
  • Visit Rate
    • The percentage of new visitors to a website. The formula is the number of visits that receive a cookie / the total number of visits.


  • Whitelist
    • The opposite of a blacklist, this is a list of sites that an advertiser wants their advertisements to appear on. 
  • Win Rate
    • The percentage of impressions won per bid, and is a metric used in programmatic ad buying.


  • Yield
    • Also known as an ad click rate, this represents the percentage of clicks vs. impressions on a specific page.

Looking to put your newfound ad tech expertise to work? Request a demo today.

Updated Regularly

If you’re as disappointed as we are that there’s no Z, we totally get it. But as soon as ad tech comes up with a term that starts with that last letter of the alphabet, you better believe we’ll add it to the list. That goes for any other term that emerges in the ad tech space, so be sure to check back for more definitions in the future.