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When it comes to interactive advertising, much of the terminology can be overwhelming and confusing, especially if you are new to the medium. You hear different metrics and words, such as hits, page views, page displays, ad impressions, ad views, clicks, rich media, buttons, banners, alt text, text links, and ad servers. But what do they really mean? And, how can understanding this terminology help you evaluate a site to determine where to place a media buy? Should you do a sponsorship with a fixed position in a contextual content area for branding or a rotation throughout the site for direct response, ROI and reach?

Education is one of the most important things in planning and understanding new media (i.e., interactive advertising) and having a successful campaign. Whether you are a novice or an expert, knowing these terms may prove useful when discussing and purchasing online advertising. Below are some common interactive advertising terms and definitions from IA's Glossary of Interactive Advertising Terms - helpful for clients who have any questions on what these might mean in reporting or in any ad serving systems.

The IA's full Glossary of Interactive Advertising Terms can be found at www.iab.net/resources/glossary_a.asp.

Glossary of Interactive Advertising Terms

Ad banner: a graphic image or other media object used as an advertisement. See iab.net for voluntary guidelines for banner ads.

Ad click: a measurement of the user-initiated action of responding to (such as clicking on) an ad element causing a re-direct to another Web location or another frame or page within the advertisement. There are three types of ad clicks: 1) click-throughs; 2) in-unit clicks; and 3) mouseovers. Ad click-throughs should be tracked and reported as a 302 redirect at the ad server and should filter out robotic activity.

Ad impression: 1) an ad which is served to a user's browser. Ads can be requested by the user's browser (referred to as pulled ads) or they can be pushed, such as e-mailed ads; 2) a measurement of responses from an ad delivery system to an ad request from the user's browser, which is filtered from robotic activity and is recorded at a point as late as possible in the process of delivery of the creative material to the user's browser therefore closest to the actual opportunity to see by the user. Two methods are used to deliver ad content to the user: a) server-initiated and b) client-initiated. Server-initiated ad counting uses the publisher's Web content server for making requests, formatting and re-directing content. Client-initiated ad counting relies on the user's browser to perform these activities.

For organizations that use a server-initiated ad counting method, counting should occur subsequent to the ad response at either the publisher's ad server or the Web content server. For organizations using a client-initiated ad counting method, counting should occur at the publisher's ad server or third-party ad server, subsequent to the ad request, or later, in the process. See www.iab.net for ad campaign measurement guidelines.

Ad materials: the creative artwork, copy, active URLs and active target sites, which are due to the seller prior to the initiation of the ad campaign.

Ad serving: the delivery of ads by a server to an end user's computer on which the ads are then displayed by a browser and/or cached. Ad serving is normally performed either by a Web publisher, or by a third-party ad server. Ads can be embedded in the page or served separately.

Ad space: the location on a page of a site in which an advertisement can be placed. Each space on a site is uniquely identified. Multiple ad spaces can exist on a single page.

Ad transfers the successful display of an advertiser's Web site after the user clicked on an ad. When a user clicks on an advertisement, a click-through is recorded and re-directs or "transfers" the user's browser to an advertiser's Web site. If the user successfully displays the advertiser's Web site, an ad transfer is recorded.

Alternate text: a word or phrase that is displayed when a user has image loading disabled in their browser or when a user abandons a page by hitting "stop" in their browser prior to the transfer of all images. Also appears as “balloon text” when a user lets their mouse rest over an image. (also referred to as alt text)

Animated GIF: an animation created by combining multiple GIF images in one file. The result is multiple images, displayed one after another, that give the appearance of movement.

Banner: a graphic image displayed on an HTML page used as an ad. See www.iab.net for voluntary guidelines defining specifications of banner ads.

Bonus impressions: additional ad impressions above the commitments outlined in the approved insertion order.

Button: 1) clickable graphic that contains certain functionality, such as taking one someplace or executing a program; 2) buttons can also be ads. See iab.net for voluntary guidelines defining specifications of button ads.

Clicks: 1) metric that measures the reaction of a user to an Internet ad. There are three types of clicks: click-throughs; in-unit clicks; and mouseovers; 2) the opportunity for a user to download another file by clicking on an advertisement, as recorded by the server; 3) the result of a measurable interaction with an advertisement or key word that links to the advertiser's intended Web site or another page or frame within the Web site; 4) metric which measures the reaction of a user to hot-linked editorial content. See www.iab.net for ad campaign measurement guidelines. See also ad click, click-through, in-unit clicks and mouseover.

Click-through: the action of following a hyperlink within an advertisement or editorial content to another Web site or another page or frame within the Web site. Ad click-throughs should be tracked and reported as a 302 redirect at the ad server and should filter out robotic activity.

Dynamic rotation: delivery of ads on a rotating, random basis so that users are exposed to different ads and ads are served in different pages of the site.

Flash Macromedia: vector-based graphics file format which is used to display interactive animations on a Web page. This form of rich media technology is available via a plug-in.

Frequency: the number of times an ad is delivered to the same browser in a single session or time period. A site can use cookies in order to manage ad frequency.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format): a graphic format which uses compression to store and display images.

Hit: when users access a Web site, their computer sends a request to the site's server to begin downloading a page. Each element of a requested page (including graphics, text, interactive items) is recorded by the site's Web server log file as a "hit." If a page containing two graphics is accessed by a user, those hits will be recorded once for the page itself and once for each of the graphics. Webmasters use hits to measure their servers' workload. Because page designs and visit patterns vary from site to site, the number of hits bears no relationship to the number of pages downloaded, and is therefore a poor guide for traffic measurement.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): a set of codes called markup tags in a plain text (*.txt) file that determine what information is retrieved and how it is rendered by a browser. There are two kinds of markup tags: anchor and format. Anchor tags determine what is retrieved, and format tags determine how it is rendered.

HTTP (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol): the format most commonly used to transfer documents on the World Wide Web.

Hyperlink: HTML programming which redirects the user to a new URL when the individual clicks on hypertext.

Hypertext: text or graphical elements on a page that activates a hyperlink when clicked.

Impression: a measurement of responses from a Web server to a page request from the user browser, which is filtered from robotic activity and error codes, and is recorded at a point as close as possible to opportunity to see the page by the user.

Inventory: the number of ads available for sale on a Web site.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group): a file format that uses a compression technique to reduce the size (number of bytes) of graphic files.

Mouseover the process by which a user places his/her mouse over a media object, without clicking. The mouse may need to remain still for a specified amount of time to initiate some actions.

Page impression: a measurement of responses from a Web server to a page request from the user's browser, which is filtered from robotic activity and error codes, and is recorded at a point as close as possible to the opportunity to see the page by the user. See www.iab.net for ad campaign measurement guidelines.

Pixel: a picture element (single illuminated dot) on a computer monitor. The metric used to indicate the size of Internet ads.

Reach: 1) unique users that visited the site over the course of the reporting period, expressed as a percent of the universe for the demographic category; also called unduplicated audience; 2) the total number of unique users who will be served a given ad.

ROS (Run-of-Site): the scheduling of Internet advertising whereby ads run across an entire site, often at a lower cost to the advertiser than the purchase of specific site sub-sections.

Splash page: a preliminary page that precedes the user-requested page of a Web site that usually promotes a particular site feature or provides advertising. A splash page is timed to move on to the requested page after a short period of time or a click. Also known as an interstitial. Splash pages are not considered qualified page impressions under current industry guidelines, but they are considered qualified ad impressions.

Sponsorship: an association with a Web site in some way that gives an advertiser some particular visibility and advantage above that of run-of-site advertising. When associated with specific content, sponsorship can provide a more targeted audience than run-of-site ad buys.

Static ad placement/Static rotation: 1) ads that remain on a Web page for a specified period of time; 2) embedded ads.

Third-party ad server: independent outsourced companies that specialize in managing, maintaining, serving, tracking, and analyzing the results of online ad campaigns. They deliver targeted advertising that can be tailored to consumers' declared or predicted characteristics or preferences.

Total ad impressions: the total of all graphical and textual ad impressions delivered, regardless of the source. See ad impression.

Yield: the percentage of clicks vs. impressions on an ad within a specific page. Also called ad click rate.

Other Useful industry sites:

- IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau): www.iab.net
- AAAA (American Association of Advertising Agencies): www.aaaa.org
- ANA (Association of National Advertisers): www.ana.net
- ARF (Advertising Research Foundation): www.arfsite.org
- AAF (American Advertising Foundation): www.aaf.org
- CARU (Children's Advertising Review Unit): www.caru.org

Source: Interactive Advertising Bureau:www.iab.net


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  • Candid
    Superior thinking demonstrated above. Thanks!
  • joleng16
    Marketing tip:  Do you talk about your client's need and forget your own company's accomplishments in your ad?
  • Sidney
    Thank you for your comments!
  • Suman Kumar
    Suman Kumar
    HI I really liked your piece of information. It was worth to spend time in reading and knowing about some of the unknown terms. I really appreciate your efforts and good work.
  • Richard
    I like this article because I received so much information. From the article, I got so much help in interactive advertising that now I can do it in a better way.

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