Many businesses have acronyms as part of their lexicon. But the advertising industry revels in new acronyms and terminology, like it is a secret code or an opportunity to show you belong. As digital marketing grows the development of new jargon grows as well. The following are some of the basic and more important advertising acronyms and jargon:


CPM(Cost per Thousand)

The cost to reach 1,000 people in the target demo. As an example if an ad cost $500 and reached 1000 people in our target audience then the CPM is $500.

Contextual Targeting

Selecting audiences based on the type of content being displayed on a particular webpage. An example of contextual advertising is placing ads for hair care products on the Vogue website.

Demand Side Platform (DSP)

A system for advertisers to purchase and manage ad inventories from multiple ad sources through a single interface. This is normally done using intelligent software which bids on the inventories using an auction process.


An impression is the broadest possible measurement to indicate a piece of advertising was seen or heard. Impressions can be measured against demographics. A Radio ad is heard by 130 woman Aged 35-64. That equals 130 impressions W35-64.

KPI(Key Performing Indicators)

A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a digital advertising campaign is achieving important business objectives. If one KPI for a retailer is more store visits, then website KPI’s might include the number of clicks on the Hours and Directions page.


Often used in describing traditional or broadcast TV. Linear distribution means that everyone watching sees the same programming and commercials.

OTT (Over-the-top)

A means of distributing TV or film via the internet. An OTT subscriber can watch video on a television, computer or mobile device. Think Hulu.

CTV (Connected TV)

Differentiates from OTT in that distribution is only to a smart television.


A rating quantifies impressions as a percentage of the target population. If your TV ad garnered 100 impressions W35-54, and there are 1,000 total woman 35-54 in your target geography your ad achieved a 10 rating, or 10% of the Women population of 35-54. Ratings are used primarily in Radio and TV advertising.

Reach & Frequency

Reach is the number of people you touch with your marketing message or the number of people that are exposed to your message over a given period of time. Frequency is the number of times you touch each person with your message in that time frame. It is not enough to “reach” a lot of potential targets unless they receive your message Frequently enough to remember it.


Serving ads to people who have previously visited your website. Think of the ads that follow you around the internet.

SOV(Share of Voice)

Measures the percentage of the viewers of a website that your advertising reaches. If you were to buy ads on and you reached 10% of their weekly audience your SOV would be 10.

Supply Side Platform (SSP)

Also sell-side platform, is an advertising technology platform used to coordinate and manage the supply and distribution of ad inventories. SSPs help digital media owners and publishers sell ad space. It works on the opposite side of a DSP.


A term that can be interspersed with Linear, terrestrial refers to traditional Radio and TV distribution. Think “broadcast”.

USP(Unique Selling Proposition)

A factor that differentiates a product or service from its competitors. A USP promises a clearly articulated benefit to consumers. Ultimately, a USP demonstrates what your business stands for.


Advertising acronyms and jargon can be confusing for people in the marketing world. For those not in the field it is challenging to keep up. Hopefully, this quick tutorial will help you understand some of the important terms used regularly in the business.