A very handy AdTech Jargon Buster

In the world of AdTech, trying to make sense of different phrases and acronyms can be quite a difficult task. It seems that every few weeks something new is invented, and everyone is suddenly talking about it! 

So we decided to compile a short and concise series of the most common terms that you’ll probably come across, which we’ll update regularly with the new things you need to know.

Whether you’re completely new to the digital media landscape, or if you’ve been working in AdTech for years – it’s always handy to have a jargon buster nearby.


The Important Terms

  • AdTech: Let’s start off easy. AdTech is simply a portmanteau for ‘advertising technology’.

  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): Similar to GDPR, CCPA is a set of personal data protection laws for residents of California. CCPA allows any California consumer to demand to see all the information a company has saved on them, a full list of all the third parties that data is shared with, as well as access to many other ways their personal information is being harvested or stored. Although it only relates to one state in the USA, it’s important to be aware of CCPA if you have audiences in California. And of course what starts in California often sets a later trend globally.

  • Click Through Rate (CTR):  The percentage of individuals viewing a web page who click on a specific advertisement that appears on the page. This is generally viewed as the rate at which users click on your digital ads. To calculate CTR you would count the number of clicks that your ad receives,  then divide this by the number of times your ad is shown to give you the CTR. This is a really important metric when measuring the effectiveness of ad campaigns.

  • Consent Management Platform (CMP): A category of software that allows businesses to create their own personal cookie policies for their site, set specific geolocation rules, record user consent, along with other consent and demographic information, with the aim to comply with specific privacy regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, and others.

  • Cost Per Mille (Thousand Impressions) (CPM): This measures the cost of 1000 ad impressions. This can then provide the value of an individual ad impression. CPM is the standard measure when it comes to buying inventory and ad space – so this is definitely a term to remember! In the old days, before digital, this was called CPT (Cost Per Thousand). Perhaps to distinguish digital from analogue media, it used the French and Latin word ‘mille’ instead of ‘thousand’. But nobody is really sure why!

  • Demand Side platform (DSP): A programmatic advertising platform that allows advertisers to bid automatically on ad inventory from a wide range of publishers. Put into simpler terms, a Demand-side platform is where advertisers set-up campaigns.

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): A regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy in the EU. GDPR covers the ways in which personal data is stored, handled and destroyed – giving people more control over their personal information. GDPR became law in 2018, and publishers worldwide who serve audiences within the EU must comply with it.

  • Header Bidding: A programmatic auction whereby bid requests are sent to multiple demand partners in real time, this helps maximise the value of ad inventory. The most important part of header bidding is that it’s simultaneous and can instantly process hundreds of ad bids. Header bidding is a subset of real-time bidding and real-time bidding is a subset of programmatic advertising. 

  • Impressions: This is the measure used to count the number of times an ad has been served. Or, in other words, impressions are when an advertisement renders on a user’s screen. As impressions are not action-based, this metric is only counting how many ads are potentially seen by a user.

  • Inventory: This is simply the digital space available on a site where ads can be shown. This can include the full range of different ad types including static display ads, interactive ads, banner ads, interstitials, etc.

  • Native: A type of paid advertising where the ads fit in with the look, feel and function of the media format where they appear. They appear as if they belong there, sitting “natively” and seamlessly on the web page. Check out our ‘insight’ post on ‘native’ advertising for more information.

  • Page RPM: A metric used to demonstrate the total ad earnings generated by 1,000 page views. Page RPM helps you link page views to revenue, and goes beyond what you can derive from ad unit-level metrics.

  • Programmatic Advertising: This can be explained as the automated buying and selling of ads and ad space. This is the current system of ad-exchanges and automated real time bidding (RTB) used by most online advertising at this present point in time. The key points to remember from programmatic advertising is that it is instant and automatic.

  • Real Time Bidding (RTB): The instant process whereby advertising inventory is sold and bought. This process occurs in less than a second. Think of it as a really quick auction – whoever wins the auction gets to display their ads in the ad space available. 

  • Session RPM: A metric used to demonstrate the total ad earnings generated by 1,000 visitor sessions on a publisher’s website. It is one of the best metrics for publishers to use when determining how much they are actually earning per visitor.

  • Supply/Sell Side platform (SSP): A piece of software that automates the process of selling advertising space. This is where publishers can manage their inventory with ad exchanges, DSPs and ad networks.

  • Video Ad Serving Template (VAST): This gives video players information about which ad to play to users, how the ad should show up, the ad duration, and whether users are able to skip it. This is a standard wrapper (e.g. mov., wmv., mp4.) for video adverts.

  • Viewability: A digital ad metric that aims to track impressions that can be physically seen by users. If an ad has loaded at the bottom of a page, but the user doesn’t scroll down to actually see it – it will not count as being ‘viewed’. For display ads, an ad is counted as viewable if at least 50% of its area is visible for at least one second. Whereas for video ads, the user should watch the ad for at least two seconds for it to be deemed as ‘viewed’. 


We hope that the AdTech terms and definitions have been helpful.

Feel free to bookmark this page in your browser so you can always refer back to it!

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