Skyscrapers to Banners – understanding the language of online advertising

As you delve into marketing your business online, you’ll quickly encounter a whole new vocabulary. While many of the terms carry over from print advertising, display advertising on websites has its own unique lingo. Here are a few common online advertising terms explained.

A few useful terms

Ad blindness – the recorded phenomenon where people stop noticing adverts, sometimes even when they’re looking for data they contain.

Ad clicks or ad click rate or click through rate (CTR) – the percentage of ads that are clicked on. This is typically low, as many ads aren’t actually seen by a human being, or aren’t noticed.

Ad network – a company that sources advertising space on a range of websites and sells it on. Advertisers may find their ads on any site in the network. It’s typically possible to focus on or exclude certain types of sites.

AdWords – the Google ad network for text ads.

Banner ad – an ad space that’s short and wide, often the width of the webpage.

Below the fold – a carry over from print newspapers, where it literally refers to the fold in the middle of the front page. Online, any content that you have to scroll down to see is ‘below the fold’.

Button – small, often square ad or link to a page.

Cookies – software in the web browser that records information about the user, including websites visited. It’s what lets an ad network show you an ad for a site you visited last week that’s now having a sale.

CPM – cost per 1,000 impressions. Way of advertising cost of PPV ads (see below).

Display advertising – a term that covers almost any online ad slot. Could be in an app or game, part of a web page or a text ad.

Flash – the most common software package used to make embedded videos and animations work. Owned by Adobe.

MPU – message plus unit. An ad slot, often square, that can contain advanced media, such as video.

Pop up – an ad or other material that ‘pops up’ and dominates the screen, typically for a set time.

PPC – pay per click. The advertiser only pays if someone clicks on an ad, not every time it is viewed.

PPV – pay per view. The advertiser pays for every time the ad is displayed, even if that page (or that section of the page) isn’t seen by a human being. Typically cheaper than PPC but often get very low click through rates. Many websites get through a thousand views in a matter of minutes, so a ‘10,000 view campaign’ may not be as sustained as it sounds.

ROI – return on investment. Usually measured in sales or profit per dollar (or pound) spent on advertising.

SEO – search engine optimisation. How to make a page rank well on search sites like Google.

Skyscraper – a tall, thin ad, often running down the right hand side of a webpage.

Text ad – an advert that is only text, without images.

Unique visitor – a single user who might make multiple visits to a site. Usually measured per week, month or year. As an example, a site like Facebook where users check in multiple times per day might have 10,000 visits per 1,000 unique users.

Visit – any one session where a user opens a page or series of pages on a particular site. Clever analytics tools now exclude search engine spiders and other automated software.

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