21 Digital Marketing Terms You Should Know

Eric Postma

CTR, Google Display Network, Bounce Rate — at times, it can seem like your digital marketing team is speaking another language. We put together this guide to help everyone better understand (and use) a shared digital marketing language.

Advertising Platforms

Programmatic Advertising

This is a form of digital marketing where advertisers input ads, bid amounts and targeting, then rely on computers to automatically bid on impressions and serve ads to the best audience. This makes up the bulk of digital advertising, as we can get much better performance from computers than from selecting a handful of placements from publishers. This type of advertising is very valuable because we can rely on behavior- and interest-based targeting to reach an audience based on the way they search and browse the Internet.

Direct-to-Publisher

Sometimes referred to as non-programmatic advertising, this form of digital advertising requires purchasing ad inventory directly from publishers. It requires an understanding of the websites and mobile apps that your target audience commonly visits. This type of advertising can be valuable because it allows advertisers to show their ads in what could be considered a valuable context (for example, an agriculture company could show their ads alongside content that talks about farming).

Social Advertising

People spend much of their online time browsing through popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. These platforms have robust advertising tools that allow advertisers to target very specific groups of potential customers.

Advertising Terms

Impressions

This is a measure of how many times an advertisement was displayed. This could include visiting a webpage where a banner ad is shown, scrolling past an ad in a social feed (such as Instagram) or seeing a text ad at the top of a search engine results page.

Click

This is a measure of when a user clicks (or taps on mobile) on an ad, likely resulting in a visit to the destination webpage.

View

This is a term used in video-based advertising, which occurs primarily on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. This is a measure of when a user views a video advertisement. A view is counted when the entire video is viewed, or a certain amount of the video is viewed by a user — this is different for every advertising platform:

  • FacebookView is counted after 3 seconds
  • InstagramView is counted after 3 seconds
  • TwitterView is counted after 2 seconds
  • YouTubeView is counted after 30 seconds

Conversion

This is a measure of when a user takes the desired action on a webpage. This could include purchasing a product, filling out a form or clicking on another webpage element (such as a button or video).

Clickthrough Rate (CTR)

This refers to the percentage of ad impressions that lead to clicks (CTR=clicks/impressions). This is a measure of how effective an ad or campaign is at driving clicks, which is often one of the primary objectives for a digital advertising campaign.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

This is the average amount an advertiser pays to achieve a single click (CPC=total cost/clicks). This is a measure of how efficient an ad or campaign is at driving clicks.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)

This is the average cost to achieve 1,000 impressions of an ad (CPM=total cost/impressions * 1,000). This is a measure of how efficient an ad campaign is at delivering ad impressions. Rates for direct-to-publisher advertising are often set on a CPM basis because advertisers are purchasing ad inventory.

View Rate

This is the percentage of ad impressions that result in video views (View Rate=views/impressions). This is a measure of how effective an advertisement is at driving video views.

Cost Per View (CPV)

This is the average cost to achieve a single video view (CPV=total cost/views). This is a measure of how efficient an ad or campaign is at delivering video views.

Conversion Rate (CVR)

In digital advertising, this is the percentage of clicks that result in a conversion (CVR=conversions/clicks). This is a measure of how effective an ad or campaign is at driving your intended action.

Cost Per Action (CPA)

This is the average amount an advertiser pays to achieve a single desired conversion action (CPA=total cost/conversions). This is a measure of how efficient an ad or campaign is at driving conversions.

Website Performance Terms

User

This refers to an individual person browsing a website (technically a unique browser cookie, which means each user is actually a unique device). Each user can visit a website multiple times.

Pageview

This is reported when a page has been viewed by a user on your website.

Session

This is a measure of a single visit to a website, consisting of one or more pageviews.

Conversion

This is a measure of how many defined and desired actions have been taken on the website. This could include a purchase, form fill, or other desired event (such as a video view, click, etc.)

Pages per Session

This is the average number of pages a user views in an individual session. This can be an effective measure of how engaged a user is with the site content.

Time-on-page / Time-on-site

This is a measure of the average time a user spends on a page or a website. This can be a good measure of how engaged your website users are with the content of your site. It can also be an indicator of how difficult it is for a user to achieve their intended goal.

Bounce Rate

This is the percentage of sessions with a single pageview (i.e. how many people “bounce,” or exit your site, after only visiting a single page). This can be an effective measure of how engaged users are with your site. It’s important to understand context when looking at bounce rate, as many pages will deliver all of the information a user is looking for on a single page.

If you have questions about this data and would like to discuss your digital campaigns, feel free to book time with me directly in my calendar.

Eric Postma is the digital director at Think Shift. He oversees the digital marketing initiatives for all of Think Shift’s clients. In his spare time Eric teaches digital marketing at the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba.

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