If you’ve decided to try your hand at online marketing but are new to the internet advertising space, be prepared for a bit of culture shock. When starting your journey, you will stumble upon a lot of terms that may be unfamiliar to you. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it will help you understand the landscape much better.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Process of affecting a website’s natural or organic search results.

Key SEO methods include:

  • Keyword Optimization: Using specific words or phrases within webpage content that is frequently searched by site visitors.
  • Metatags: Adding related keywords and descriptions to image file names so that search engine spiders can read these images.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Process of affecting a website’s search engine ranking through paid methods, including Google AdWords.


An algorithm named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page, to measure the importance of a webpage. The main factor measured to estimate PageRank is the number of links a webpage receives from external sources. The assumption is that “important” or legitimate webpages will be linked to frequently and are therefore deserving of higher PageRank.

Google AdWords

Refers to the advertisements that appear on Google’s search engine results pages, either above the results listings or to the right-hand side. AdWords are paid advertisements built on a Cost-Per-Click model. Can also be referred to as “sponsored listings.”

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Refers to a model of paid online advertising (used by site services as Google AdWords) where the advertiser only pays when their ad is clicked on.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

Determines the overall cost of acquiring a new client by factoring all media costs associated with the client taking a specific action. For example: An online advertiser may measure the success of a campaign by the number of email signups it receives. This signup is considered an “acquisition.” The cost per acquisition would be figured by adding up all of the related advertising costs and then dividing by the total number of emails collected.

Cost Per Lead (CPL)

Determines the overall cost of acquiring a new lead by factoring all media costs associated with the lead taking a specific action, such as filling out an online form or creating an account. The advertiser would add up all the costs associated with advertising and divide that by the number of forms filled out.


Online advertising that is only promoted to specific geographic locations. Geo-targeted ads only show up when the user is online in specific areas. Geographic advertising can normally be targeted by zip code, designated market area (DMA), state or country.


Refers to certain ads “following” users around the web. The process is triggered when an online user visits a specific product or company’s website and then ads for that product or company appear on other webpages and other sites that the user visits. This is especially prevalent with websites like Yahoo! and other online ad networks. Ads are retargeted based on a specific tracking pixel placed on the original website that then marks the user as a candidate for retargeting.

Ad Networks

Groupings of websites that typically fall within a certain category, such as men’s interest, entertainment, family, etc. These sites then aggregate their advertising opportunities and allow advertisers to purchase packages of impressions that will run across the network of sites. This allows advertisers to purchase impressions at a lower price point and effectively get more reach for their investment.

Remnant Advertising

Typically refers to the “leftover” impressions available on a website for a given timeframe. Remnant advertising is sold at a very low cost per thousand (CPM) because the advertising positions available are normally the least desirable.

Run of Site (ROS)

Refers to online ads that run throughout a website and are not targeted to a particular page, section or topic. These are often the cheapest of the online ad buys, as they offer the advertiser the least amount of control in regards to advertising placement.

Page View (PV)

Every time a webpage is loaded into an online browser, it is considered a page view.

Unique Visitor (UV)

Unique visitors are measured by the number of unique IP addresses that visit a page. Page views and unique visitors are often combined to evaluate a website’s traffic. Unique visitors will always be less than page views, since some IP addresses will visit a site more than once.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The number of clicks on a web banner divided by the number of served impressions (see below) is considered the banner’s click-through rate.


Refers to the number of times an ad is served (loaded) on a webpage.


Calculated by the number of unique individuals who are exposed to an ad or a webpage. Reach does not include duplicate impressions (this term is more frequently used by traditional media outlets, such as TV and radio, but is still sometimes used when discussing online advertising).


The number of times an ad is seen. Frequency can include duplicate views.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)

The most common way to sell online advertising is charging a price per every thousand (mille) impressions served. If an advertiser purchases one million online impressions for a $5 CPM, the total cost will be $5,000.

Banner Ad

Refers to standard visual ads that are placed on webpages.

The most common banner ads are:

  • Leaderboard (728x90 pixels): Typically the ad served at the top of a webpage, it is a long and skinny ad unit.
  • Skyscraper (120x60 or 160x600 pixels): An ad that is served down the right- or left-hand side of a webpage.
  • Cube (300x250 pixels): Most commonly served on the right hand side of a web page, typically above the fold.

Above the Fold

A repurposed newspaper term, it refers to ads that appear on webpages that the user does not have to scroll to see. These ads are considered the most valuable because they are the most highly viewed.

Native Advertising

A relatively new term to describe advertising that mimics the look and feel of the webpage it is situated on. A good example of native advertising is promoted Facebook posts that look indistinguishable in your newsfeed from other friends’ posts. The overriding idea behind native advertising is to seamlessly integrate with digital content while also presenting a less jarring user experience by looking less like advertising and more like content.