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Web Marketing/Advertising Terminology and Definitions

As a follow up to last weeks article where I discussed the use of jargon in web marketing and online promotion, I contemplated further just how confusing Internet advertising terminology can be to the uninitiated. 

Each day, new buzz words and terms in connection with online advertising are created. Some of these terms are for the sake of accurately defining a process, others are just plain pretentious and invented by companies that feel the term gives inflated importance to simple concepts.

Jargon is unavoidable within any industry between industry counterparts, so I hope that you find the following web marketing/advertising terminology definitions of some value. It's  especially important when dealing with people whose language gives the impression that they actually know what they are talking about that you aren't left feeling totally bamboozled!

Above the fold 

The part of a web page that is visible without any scrolling. This is prime advertising space.


A partner of sorts that promotes your products and services in exchange for a set bounty for sending traffic or a share in revenue. Also known as a "publisher"


A business that sells primarily to other businesses


A business that sells primarily to end consumers

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Bounce rate

Can mean either the percentage of emails that are returned to the sender or the number of people who visit a site or specific page who proceed no further; usually also expressed as a percentage.


The process by which a business employs marketing strategies to get people to easily remember their products and services over a competitors.

COA - Cost Of Acquisition 

What it costs you to gain a sale or subscriber. If you spend $100 on advertising and gain 10 sales, then your cost of acquisition is $10 per sale. 

Conversion rate 

The percentage of people who take a desired action, usually involving a sale


Information stored on a user's computer for the purpose of tracking activity on a site or for personalizing content.

CPA - Cost Per Action

Where payment is made based on a specified action such as sales or subscription

CPM - Cost Per Thousand 

This is the way that banners, pop ups and pop under ads are often sold. Why the "M"?  M is the Roman numbers equivalent of "one thousand". 

CTR - Click Through Rate or Ratio

A calculation based on impressions vs. clicks. If one thousand banners are displayed and from these displays, 10 people click on the banner, the CTR would be 1% 

CPA - Cost Per Action

Advertiser payment based on site visitors executing a desired response e.g. subscription, survey completed, download or sale. 

CPC - Cost Per Click 

What it costs to have individual visitors sent to your site. In a CPM model example, if you pay $5 for 1000 impressions and an average of 10 people click through for each 1000 impression, then your CPC would be $5 per visitor under that campaign. 


A rather impersonal way to describe people who visit your site or view an advertisement.

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Frequency cap

Limit on the number of times a single visitor see a certain advertisement, or the number of times an ad is generally served.


Hit is a flexible term. It can be used to describe a person visiting a site, or the number of requests to a server for an item of information - a page, an image. Each web page is made up of a number of items, so one visitor requesting a page will generate a number of hits as all the elements are loaded. It's very important that you ensure the person who uses the term to clarify what they mean by "hit". 

If you're wanting to advertise on a site, they may entice you by saying that the site gets, for example, 300,000 hits a month - this may only translate into 1,000 unique visitors.

Hybrid Campaign 

A composite of a number of advertising strategies under the same campaign e.g, CPC and CPM.  


A single display of an advertisement. 100 displays equals 100 impressions. Impressions are usually sold in lots of 1 thousand.

Incentives site

A web site that gives some kind of reward for visitors who click on a link or fill out a form on an advertising partners site. Be very careful in using incentives sites to promote your products as they can generate a lot of garbage traffic and wasted advertising dollars.


An important word or phrase in relation to a topic that people search on.

Keyword density

The number of times a specific word or phrase appears on a page; usually expressed as a percentage.

Landing page

A page designed as a point of entry to help generate sales or subscriptions. Usually connected to a specific marketing campaign

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A type of banner, 728x90 pixels in size

Link popularity

The number of inbound links, i.e. those pointing into a site. 

Media Kit/Page

A section of a web site that demonstrates to potential advertisers the potential and user demographics of the site.

Meta tags

Sections of source code not seen in normal browser viewing that contain information about the page. Important in search engine optimization.

Organic traffic

Traffic that isn't paid for; e.g. via free search engine listings

Opt-in email

A specific request by a visitor for subscription to an ezine etc. Double opt-in means that not only does the visitor need to initially subscribe, but also confirms the subscription request.  Genuine double opt-in mailing lists provide the best targeted advertising responses.

Page View 

Basically, just as it states - a single view of a web page.

Permission marketing

Marketing based on consent from a site visitor to receive promotional information.

PPC - Pay Per Click 

Very popular on paid placement search engines now. Instead of paying for the number of times an ad is viewed, you only pay for clicks on the ad. PPC is an example of performance based advertising. 

PPL - Pay Per Lead

A payment made based on an action such as someone filling in an advertiser's contact form or survey. Term is rarely used these days.

PPS - Pay Per Sale 

Payment made based on a successful financial transaction occurring.

Rate Card

Information on advertising rates on a particular site.

Reciprocal link

An arrangement between two site owners to link to each others site.

ROI - Return on Investment

The margin gained from a particular marketing strategy, e.g. a $500 ad campaign that returns $650 has an ROI of $150.

RON - Run of network

Many sites are members of a larger network. This option allows you to purchase ad space on all member site.

ROS - Run of site

An advertisement running on many pages on a web site, not confined to a particular section.

SEM - Search engine marketing

Covers a variety of aspects of site promotion via search engines including PPC and SEO

SEO - Search engine optimization

The process of refining a site for the purposes of boosting search engine rankings

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SEOP - Search engine optimization professional

Someone that performs optimization services for other site owners on a contract basis


Vertical banner, usually around the 120x600 pixel mark.

Splash page

A page that usually makes an artistic statement, contains little content and leads to the main area of the site.


The ability to hold the attention of web site visitors and to keep them returning to your web site. 

Unique Visitors 

Another flexible term. Unique Visitors refers to a single person who visits your web site in a set space of time, usually 24 hours. If a person visits your web site 3 times in a 24 hour period, they would only count as 1 unique. This is another statistic that needs to be clarified with the company who is quoting it - their time frame for "uniqueness" may be as little as one hour and that will inflate their statistics dramatically.

Viral marketing

A marketing technique that encourages visitors to pass along a sales message, usually by giving away something for free.

There's an old saying that goes "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull". Try using some of these terms in conversations with non-marketing people at the next party you attend; you'll either gain a new fan club or be ejected from the room! :0).

Further learning resources:

Ecommerce terminology and definitions

Viral marketing and the Internet

The best banner advertising networks 

Branding concepts

Web marketing, image, jargon and slang

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
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