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20 Must-Know Digital Advertising Acronyms


By Ashley McKinney

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Published March 17, 2016 Reading Time: 4 minutes

It has never been more important to have an active digital advertising strategy. Banners, videos, social media ads, and retargeting are all types of digital advertising methods nonprofit marketing professionals can use to expand their community of donors, build their brand identity, and boost their visibility online.

But with terms like “DSP” and “VTC” thrown around, it’s clear there’s a lot of lingo to learn before you can become a digital advertising expert.

To help you master the digital advertising world, we’ve compiled a list of the 20 acronyms you’re sure to come across on a regular basis. From basic terms to more specialized jargon, this list will build your vocabulary and help you navigate the digital advertising industry.

1. KPI: Key Performance Indicator(s)

The first step to any digital advertising campaign is to determine your goals and the success metrics you plan to measure. Key performance indicators are the key metrics you plan to measure. They are your indicators for success and should influence which advertising campaigns best align with your goals.

2. CPM: Cost Per Thousand Impressions

This is the most common method for web pricing. You will be charged for every 1,000 times your ad loads to a page. Keep in mind that a CPM is not a unique view. If one person clicks on 10 pages and your ad loads 10 times, that is 10 impressions, not one. Consider your budget and desired reach before committing to a CPM.

Formula: total cost =((total impressions x CPM)/1,000.)

3. CPC: Cost Per Click

Your cost for each click your ad receives. Keep in mind that a click is not unique to the person taking action. If one person clicks on your ad 3x, you will be charged for 3 clicks.

Formula: total cost =(clicks x CPC)

4. PPC: Pay Per Click

This is the same cost model as CPC campaigns, but another acronym used interchangeably.

5. PPV: Pay Per View

Pay-per-view is defined by your video or ad/image being visible on the page and 100 percent in view for a specific duration of time defined at the discretion of the publisher. The benefit? For readers who scroll quickly, paying on a PPV modal will ensure that your ad was indeed loaded and viewed.

6. VTC: View Through Click

VTC helps you measure the effectiveness of your ad campaign. A view through click would mean that a customer saw your ad, did not click, but in a later session visited your website and converted.

7. CPL: Cost Per Lead

CPL model means that you are only paying for leads that are delivered to you through your ad campaign. Examples include when donors: fill out a form, subscribe to your blog, or provide an email address to receive more info. The CPL cost model is very competitive and is not guaranteed to deliver in full.

8. CPA: Cost Per Acquisition

The cost per acquisition model applies to a specific “action” determined by the advertiser. Examples would include donations made to your nonprofit, or, the purchase of tickets to an event. Do note that the CPA is very competitive and can carry a higher cost. Similar to the CPL model, the CPA is not guaranteed to deliver in full and may require several optimizations to your ad to ensure success.

9. CTR: Click Through Rate

This is the number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad has been shown. The CTR percentage allows you to measure the engagement with your ad. The higher the percentage the higher the engagement.

Formula: CTR percentage=((clicks/impressions) x 100)

10. CTA: Call to Action

Your call to action is your “request” and the users next step after seeing your ad. Examples include: “Learn More,” “Donate Now,” or “Watch Video.”

11. DSP: Demand Side Platform

A DSP is a technology that allows advertisers to purchase display ad inventory across Real Time Bidding (RTB) networks like Google. Think of it this way… this is your campaign, your bid, your target audience, the DSP is just placing the ad buys on your behalf based on the criteria you’ve identified. Run multiple campaigns on multiple networks with ease. Check out DSP companies like Media Math or Turn for more info.

12. RTB: Real Time Bidding

This is a method of purchasing unsold inventory by CPM through programmatic auction. Your CPM bid may be over ruled by other advertisers and is not guaranteed. The highest bid takes inventory priority.

13. DMA: Designated Market Area

A geographic location representing a county, state, or country you choose to target.

14. IAB: Interactive Advertising Bureau

You’ll see many publishers reference the term IAB. The IAB is a business organization that sets the industry standard for digital advertising including ad specifications. Consider these specifications the standard and best practice for anything digital advertising related.

15. ROS: Run of Site

Running your digital ads through a run of site channel means that you are delivering your online ads on a specific website. Consider the rotation “site wide” and not page specific.

16. RON: Run of Network

Running your digital ads through a run of network channel means that you are delivering your online ads on a specific network that rotates ads. These are publishers that may own several different websites. This rotation is “network” specific and not site or page specific.

17. SEM: Search Engine Marketing

An example of this are the advertisements that appear on Google Search, Bing Search, or Yahoo Search. Your ad would appear based on the search criteria, keywords, and your max budget. Nonprofit’s are in luck! Google offers $10k of free advertising to nonprofits.

18. SEO: Search Engine Optimization

SEO pairs nicely with SEM; however, SEO effects the visibility of your website organically through search engines’ unpaid (free) results. Ever wonder how your nonprofit can rank number one on a Google search results page? There are several techniques you can use to improve your ranking, such as using targeted keywords, and writing quality content on a consistent basis.

19. SOV: Share of Voice

The SOV is a calculation based on a percentage your ad is seen versus other advertisers. For example, if there are five advertisers rotating ads evenly on the homepage, each advertiser would have a 20 percent share of voice. If there is 1 sole advertiser advertising on the homepage, that advertiser would have 100 percent share of voice.

20. eCP”x”: Effective Cost Per “Fill in the blank”

That “e” can be applied to all cost models (such as CPM, CPL, or CPA) to determine your average spend based off your total budget and results. With any digital advertising campaign, you may have several placements, cost modals, and budgets in place. Knowing your average spend is important to determine the effectiveness of your campaign.

Familiarize yourself with these key terms and concepts to enhance your understanding of the digital marketing world and identify the best strategies for your organization.

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The Nonprofit Digital Marketing Checklist

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