Learn How to “Speak Advertising”…

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Advertising buzz words every marketer should know.

The world of advertising has a language all its own. Whether your firm leverages print, broadcast or online ads to drive business, it’s likely you’ll run into terms that you’re unfamiliar with. This list includes all the words you need to know to have informed conversations with agency professionals, media buyers and other advertising pros.

Interested in learning the meaning of online marketing terms? Check out our digital marketing glossary.


Above the fold: An online banner ad that can be viewed without scrolling.

Across the board: A program that’s broadcast at the same time daily.

Adjacency: A commercial that runs immediately after another one.

Ad network: A network of companies that handle ad sales, serving, billing and collection for web sites. They act as aggregators that sell online ad space to advertisers for specific sites or groups of them.

Ad Server: A system of server hardware, ad serving software, and internet connections used by advertisers and web publishers to efficiently and effectively serve-up online ads.

Ad Views: The number of times an ad is shown online. Companies that use ads to drive brand awareness usually pay for the number of times an ad is served up to a targeted audience rather than how often it is clicked on.

Affiliate: A radio or television station that leverages a broader group of them or an umbrella media organization for advertising and programming purposes.

Agate line: A measure of newspaper advertising space equal to one column wide by one-fourteenth of an inch deep.

Agency commission: The amount of money (usually a percentage of the total spend) that an advertising agency charges a client to purchase media space or time.

Agency of record: The agency that oversees a company’s overall advertising strategies and deliverables. Firms often hire specialized agencies in addition to their agency of record.

Alternate sponsorship: A situation where two advertisers sponsor a single program on alternating weeks.

Announcement: A message or ad broadcast before or after radio, television or online programs.

Audience: People who are on the receiving end of an ad, whether it’s printed, mailed, broadcast or delivered online.

Audience accumulation: The total number of different people who are exposed to an ad or campaign over a period of time.

Audience composition: The demographic make-up of an advertising audience.

Audience duplication: People who see a single ad more than one time.

Audience flow: The movement of a broadcast or online audience from station-to-station or website-to-website.

Audience profile: The demographic make-up of the people engaged in a media experience.

Audience turnover: The part of a broadcast audience that abandons a program over a defined period of time.

Availability: Advertising space or time that has not been reserved by another advertiser.

Average exposure: The average number of times each member of an audience has been exposed to an ad or campaign.

Average net paid circulation: The average number of copies of a publication that are paid for (subscription or single copy) and distributed per issue.


B2B: Businesses that promote or advertise their products or services to other businesses rather than consumers. This is a short form reference for business-to-business.

Banner Exchange: A service that brokers unused online advertising space. This usually involves trading ad space on one site for space on another.

Banner Ad: A generic term used to describe online advertising on most commercial web sites.

Barter: A form of advertising that trades ad space or time for non-monetary compensation, including merchandise or service from an advertiser.

Billboard: A large outdoor advertisement or a short announcement made during a broadcast or online program.

Billing: The value of advertising handled by an agency and how they get paid for their work.

Blanket contract: A single negotiated rate charged by a media outlet to an advertiser that places ads through multiple agencies.

Bleed: An ad that prints to the edge of a page with no border.

Break: Advertising time available for purchase during a program.

Bulk discount: A discount offered for larger advertising buys.

Buy: The process of negotiating, ordering, and purchasing advertising time or space.

Buying service: A company focused on purchasing advertising space and time.

Buy sheet: The report that tracks data on the outlets selected as part of a media buy.


Campaign: A coordinated advertising effort in support of a specific product or service that runs for a defined period of time.

Car card: Advertising that runs on a bus, subway, or train.

Card rate: The published cost of advertising time or space. Most time and space sold is discounted from the card rate.

Carryover effect: The level of advertising awareness or recall after an ads stops running or a campaign ends. Can also refer to the time it takes for someone who sees an ad to act on it.

Cash discount: A small discount offered by media companies to advertisers who pay on time.

Center spread: An ad that runs on two adjoining pages in the middle of a publication.

Checking: The process of confirming that an ad actually ran.

Checking copy: A copy of a publication used to prove that an ad ran as specified.

Circulation: The number of copies of a print publication that are distributed on a regular basis.

Class magazines: Publications that attract upscale audiences.

Click through rate (CTR): The percentage of online visitors who click on an ad compared to all those who are exposed to the ad.

Clipping bureau: A somewhat antiquated term for a company that checks to see if print advertising actually ran as contracted.

Closing date: The deadline set by a media outlet
for delivery of advertising assets.

Column inch: Advertising space that is one column wide by one-inch high.

Combination rate: A discounted advertising rate for running ads in two outlets owned by the same media company.

Commercial impressions: The total audience, including duplication, that could see an ad or campaign through a complete media schedule.

Confirmation: A statement that confirms media time or space is available for purchase.

Consumer profile: A demographic description of the people most likely to do business with a firm.

Cooperative advertising: Advertising that is paid for by two or more firms.

Cooperative program: A media program that sells both national and local ad space or time.

Corporate discounts: Reduced advertising rates offered to companies that advertise multiple products or brands under their corporate banner.

Cost per action (CPA): How much it costs to get viewers to take an action requested in an online ad, such as clicking on a button.

Cost per click (CPC): How much it costs to get someone to click on an ad.

Cost per lead (CPL): How much it costs for an ad to generate a qualified business lead.

Cost per rating point (CPR): The cost to advertise to one percent of a target audience.

Cost per thousand (CPM): The cost to reach one thousand members of a target audience.

Coverage: The number of individuals that are exposed to an ad or campaign.

Cover position: An ad that appears on the cover of a publication.

Cowcatcher: A short commercial at the beginning of a program.

Cumulative audience: The total number of non-duplicated people exposed to an ad.

Cumulative reach: The total number of households exposed to an ad or campaign during a defined period of time.

Cut-in: Inserting a local commercial into a national program.


Dayparting: The act of dividing the broadcast day into different sections.

Deadline: The final date set for delivering advertising content to a media outlet.

Delivery: The ability to reach a defined audience using a specific advertising schedule.

Demographic characteristics: The similar characteristics that define a demographic group.

Designated Market Area (DMA): A specific geographical area, usually including a city and its adjoining suburbs, used to define the potential reach of an ad or campaign.

Direct advertising (or marketing): An advertising or marketing solicitation that requests an immediate action or purchase from the person who receives or views it.

Display advertising: Any type of advertising that leverages striking visuals to draw attention.

Double truck: A print ad that runs over two full side-by-side pages.

Drive time: Broadcasts that take place during morning and late afternoon rush hours.


Earned rate: The actual amount of money an advertiser pays to advertise once discounts and other premiums have been applied.

Effective frequency (or reach): The minimal level of promotional activity that an advertiser finds acceptable to get their message to resonate with a target audience.


Flat rate: A cost to advertise that has not been discounted.

Flight: Advertising that runs during a specified period of time followed by a period of no advertising activity.

Fold: The bottom of the visible screen area of a web page. Most advertisers prefer that their ads run above this area so visitors don’t have to scroll to see them.

Forcing distribution: The practice of using advertising to increase consumer demand for a product to force suppliers to carry it.

Fractional page: Any print advertising that takes up less than a full page.

Free circulation: Any distribution of a publication that is not charged for.

Frequency: The number of times that the average person who is a member of a defined audience sees or hears an ad during a defined period of time.

Frequency discount: A discounted advertising rate offered to advertisers who run a certain number of ads during a defined period of time.

Fringe time: Non-prime broadcast periods such as afternoon or late night.


General magazine: A magazine that does not cater to a specific interest or audience.

Giveaway: An ad that offers a prize.

Gross audience (or impressions): The total number of people who are reached by an advertising schedule that does not take into account a person viewing or hearing an ad multiple times.

Gross rate: The highest rate charges for advertising time or space without discounts.

Gorilla marketing: The act of using surprise tactics in a local area to generate advertising buzz.


Head of household: The person in a family who makes most of the big purchase decisions.

Hiatus: A pause during an advertising campaign when ads stop running for a specified period of time.

Holdover audience: People who watch a television program that continue to watch the next one.

House agency: An advertising agency that is owned and run by a company to handle its own advertising needs.

House organ: A publication produced by a company for its own advertising and promotional benefit.


Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB): An association that helps online media companies increase their revenues.

Impact: The measurable level to which an ad or campaign affects its audience.

Independent station: A television or radio station that is not a part of a network.

Index: A numerical value that makes it easy to compare data.

Insert: An ad that is inserted or enclosed in a piece of mail or publication.

Insertion order: A form produced by an advertising agency that documents advertising specifications for a media company.

Integrated commercial: A marketing message that is
included as a part of an entertainment program.

Interstitial ad: An online ad that’s shown while a user moves from one web page to another or one section of an app to another.

Island position: A print ad that is surrounded by editorial content.


Junior unit: A print ad prepared for a small publication that runs in a larger one.


Key: A tracking code included in an ad.


Landing page: The web page a visitor arrives at after clicking on an online ad. It usually includes the information needed to drive to a contact or sale.

Lead: A possible customer who expresses interest in a product or service by responding to a call-to-action in an ad.

Life: The total amount of time an ad runs.

Life-style profiles: Demographic profiles of media audiences based primarily on how they spend money and live their lives.

List broker: A firm that prepares and rents targeted lists of names along with contact and demographic information.

Log: A broadcaster’s record of its programming.


Magazine concept: Buying a specified number of broadcast ads with a guaranteed audience level without specifying the times or programs.

Make-good: An additional run of an ad to make up for an error, omission, technical problem or audience shortfall in the initial run of the ad.

Market profile: A description of the people who live in an area based on their demographic profiles.

Market share: A company’s percentage of sales within its category.

Media buyer: A person who buys advertising space or time.

Media planner: A person who develops plans that include the right mix of media and advertising frequency that will achieve the advertiser’s goals.

Metropolitan area: A geographic area that includes a city with a certain population density along with the communities that surround it.

Metro rating: A broadcast rating within a defined metropolitan area.


Net: A payment made to a media company by an advertising agency after the agency commission has been deducted.

Network: An affiliated group of broadcast stations.

Next to reading matter: An ad placed next to editorial content usually for a premium price.

Nielsen: A firm that measures television ratings and does other types of marketing research.


O & O station: A broadcast station that is completely owned and operated by a network.

One time only (OTO): A commercial or ad that runs only once.

Open rate: The cost to run an ad before discounts are applied. Also, the percentage of recipients who open an email.

Out of Home: Billboards and display advertising that is shown outdoors.


Package: A group of programs, publications or sites an advertiser can run ads on.

Package plan discount: A discount plan for buying a defined number of ad spots on a series of related media outlets in a specified period of time.

Paid circulation: The number of copies of a publication that are purchased during a defined period of time.

Pass-along readers: Readers of a publication who don’t pay for their copy of it.

Penetration: The percent of people or households that are exposed to an ad or campaign.

Per issue rate: A magazine advertising discount based on the number of issues of a magazine an advertising campaign appears in.

Piggyback: This occurs when two commercials from the same advertiser appear back-to-back.

Plans board: A group at an advertising agency that reviews advertising promotion plans.

Plug: A free mention of a product or service during a program or in an article.

Point-of-purchase advertising (POP): Display advertising in a business location such as a bank.

Position: The placement of an ad on a page or website.

Potential audience: The largest audience an ad or campaign can possibly reach.

Preemptible rate: An advertising rate that is discounted because ads can be cancelled if another advertiser agrees to pay a higher rate.

Premium: A higher priced advertising rate for prime positioning.

Prime time: Prime media viewing hours, usually in the evening.

Product protection: How much time must be placed between airings of ads for competing products or firms.

Profile: The demographic characteristics of a defined audience.

Program compatibility: A program or editorial content that is appropriate for the product or service that’s being promoted in an ad.

Projected audience: The number of people who are likely to be exposed to an ad based on data projections.

Publisher’s statement: The circulation of a publication that’s been certified by the publisher.


Qualified circulation: Readers of a publication that meet certain requirements, such as people who earn a certain amount of money or work in a particular industry.

Qualified reader: A person who actually reads a publication.

Quantity discount: A reduced rate for buying a defined amount of advertising space or time.


Rate: The amount charged for advertising space or time.

Rate book: A document that includes advertising rates for a group of media vehicles.

Rate card: A list of advertising rates for one media vehicle.

Rate guarantee: A guarantee that ad rates will not go up during a defined period of time.

Rate protection: The amount of time an advertiser is guaranteed a certain rate for space or time.

Rating: The percentage of the possible total audience that watches or listens to a station, network, or program.

Reach: The total audience that can be reached by a particular type of media vehicle.

Readership: The number of people who read an ad or publication.

Rebate: Money that is returned to an advertiser by a media vehicle because they paid too much for ad space or time, likely because the advertiser earned a discount.

Reminder advertising: Ads that are used to keep an advertiser top-of-mind, often as a follow-up to online or other advertising.

Rep: A person who sells media space or time.

Replacement: A substitute for an ad that did not run as intended.

Rich media: Online advertising that uses animation or other enhanced techniques to convey a message or draw

Roadblocking: Placing the same ad at the same time on more than one broadcast channel or program.

ROI: A calculation used to determine the cost effectiveness of an ad or campaign.

Run of network (RON): An advertiser purchases advertising across an online network’s range of sites.

Run of paper (ROP): Advertising that can run anywhere in a publication.

Run of schedule (ROS): Advertising that can be scheduled at anytime a station chooses.


Saturation: An advertising schedule that leverages wide reach and high frequency to achieve greater impact.

Scatter plan: An advertising plan that schedules commercials at different times to improve efficiency.

Schedule: The list of ads, media options, times and placements used in a campaign.

Secondary audience: People who read a publication that don’t subscribe to it or purchase it.

Share of audience (SOA): The percentage of the total possible audience that are tuned to a station, network, or program.

Share of voice (SOV): How much a particular business spends on advertising as a percent of what all the competitors in their segment spend.

Skyscraper: A common online ad format that typically measures 120×600 or 160×600 pixels.

Space buyer: A person who buys ad space in print publications or transit vehicles.

Sponsor: An advertiser who purchases all or most of the advertising time or space in a program or publication (often referred to as a sponsorship).

Spot: A term used to describe an ad that runs at a particular time.

Strip programming: A commercial scheduled at the same time on certain days of the week.

Subject to non-renewal (SNR): Advertising time that could become available if the current advertiser does not purchase the time again.

Sustaining period: A period of lower frequency advertising that follows an initial period of high-impact advertising.


Targeting: The method advertisers use to reach an audience that is likely to purchase their product or service.

Target group: The audience an ad or campaign is attempting to reach because they are likely to purchase a product or service.

Target market: The geographic area(s) that an advertising campaign is trying to reach.

Target profile: The description of the groups of people an ad or campaign is trying to reach based on demographic information.

Tearsheet: A page from a publication that includes an ad that’s provided to the advertiser.

Teaser: A short ad designed to build curiosity about a later, longer ad.

Till forbidden (TF): An order to run an ad until told to stop.

Time buyer: A person who buys advertising time on radio and television.

Total audience: The number of people who are tuned to a broadcast program for a specified amount of time.

Traffic: How often the audience for a broadcast program changes over a defined period of time.

Two-page spread: One print ad that runs across two side-by-side pages.


Unduplicated audience: The total number of individual people exposed to an ad or campaign in all media vehicles.

Unit: A description of the size, length, position and / or timing of a single element of advertising.

Unique users or impressions: The total number of unique individuals who view an online ad.

Upfront buying: The purchase of advertising time early when inventory, selection and price are at their peak. Usually used by companies that want prime positions on the best programs.


Vehicle: A specific advertising medium, such as a magazine, website or program.

Vertical saturation: Advertising that runs in a wide variety of outlets to attract the broadest possible audience.

Visits: The number of visits to a web site during a defined period of time.


Waste circulation: People who read a publication that are not prospective purchasers of a product or service that advertises in it.


Yield: The number of clicks on a banner ad divided by the number impressions for the ad.

Interested in working with an agency that will use clear language while helping you develop successful advertising campaigns? Contact Carpenter Group to find out how we can help you develop advertising that gets results.