Advertising Glossary of Terminology


Above the fold (ATF): A term derived from newspaper print advertising, this means that an ad is placed on a website above the scroll line as the page is viewed before any scrolling occurs; in view before scrolling

Ad banner: Also known as banner ads are a form of display advertising that can range from a static graphic to full-motion video. Banner ads are one of the most dominant forms of advertising on the internet.

Adblocker: A piece of software designed to prevent advertisements from appearing on a web page.

Ad click: The user activity of pressing a navigation button or hitting the enter key on the keyboard on an advertisement unit on a website (banner, button or text link).

Ad exchange: A sales channel between publishers and ad networks that can also provide aggregated inventory to advertisers. They provide a technology platform that facilitates automated auction-based pricing and buying in real-time. Ad exchanges’ business models and practices may include features that are similar to those offered by ad networks.

Ad impression: The count of ads that are served to a user. Ads can be requested by the user’s browser (referred to as pulled ads) or they can be pushed, such as e-mailed ads.

In a formal sense, ad impressions are a measurement of responses from an ad delivery system to an ad request from the user’s browser, which is filtered for robotic activity and is recorded at a point as late as possible in the process of delivery of the creative material to the user’s browser — therefore closest to the actual opportunity to be seen by the user.

Ad impression ratio: Click-throughs divided by ad impressions.

Ad insertion: When an ad is inserted in a document and recorded by the ad server.

Ad inventory: The aggregate number of opportunities near publisher content to display advertisements to users.

Ad network: Provide an outsourced sales capability for publishers and a means to aggregate inventory and audiences from numerous sources in a single buying opportunity for media buyers. Ad networks may provide specific technologies to enhance value to both publishers and advertisers, including unique targeting capabilities, creative generation, and optimization.

Ad ops: The team/function that is responsible for trafficking and optimizing digital ad campaigns.

Ad server: An ad server is a webserver dedicated to the delivery of advertisements. This specialization enables the tracking and management of advertising-related metrics.

Ad tag: Software code that an advertiser provides to a publisher or ad network that calls the advertiser’s ad server for the purposes of displaying an advertisement.

Ad targeting: Delivering an ad to the relevant, appropriate audience through behavioral targeting, contextual targeting or geographic targeting.

Ad view: A single ad that appears on a web page when the page arrives on the viewer’s display. Ad views are what most websites sell or prefer to sell. A web page may offer space for a number of ad views. In general, the term impression is more commonly used.

Ad: For web advertising, an ad or creative is almost always a banner graphic image, or set of animated images of designated pixel size and byte size limit.

Address: A unique identifier for a computer or site online, how one computer finds the location of another computer using the internet. Typically a URL for a website or marked with an @ for an e-mail address. 

Advertiser: The company paying for the advertisement.

Adware: In its most innocent form, adware is any code designed to insert advertisements onto websites, apps or software packages in order to drive revenue through page views, downloads or other conversions. In worst-case scenarios, on publisher websites, the adware can interrupt and harm the user’s experience and may even hide destructive malware.

Agency: An organization that, on behalf of clients, plans marketing and advertising campaigns, drafts and produces advertisements, places advertisements in the media. In interactive advertising, agencies often use third-party technology (ad servers) and may place advertisements with publishers, ad networks and other industry participants.

Auto Download: The process of forcing a user to download unwanted software to their computer or mobile device. With malicious adware or malvertising (discussed in M), the software can force out or replace legitimate advertising assets.

Auto Redirect: Also known as “browser hijacking,” this is the process of taking over a user’s web browser for the purpose of misdirecting that user to another site without their knowledge or permission. In some cases, interstitial ads will prompt user engagement, which may grant system permission to the malware.


Banner: A graphic advertising image displayed on a web page also known as display ads, banner advertisements are a form of graphical ads embedded into a webpage, typically including a combination of static/animated images, text and/or video designed to convey a marketing message and/or cause the user to take an action. Banner dimensions are typically defined by width and height, represented in pixels.

Backdoor: A method for bypassing normal security and authentication routines, often used by programmers during development to save time. When left in place, backdoors can create serious vulnerabilities for publishers who run their websites using “off-the-shelf” software.

Behavioral targeting: Using previous online user activity (e.g., pages visited, content viewed, searches, clicks and purchases) to generate a segment that is used to match advertising creative to users (sometimes also called behavioral profiling, interest-based advertising, or online behavioral advertising). Behavioral targeting uses anonymous, non-PII data.

Below the fold (BTF): A term derived from newspaper print advertising, this means that an ad is placed on a website below the scroll line as the page is viewed before any scrolling occurs- out of view before scrolling

Bot Short for “robot,” a bot is a program that simulates a human activity. Bots can be used by criminals to uncover vulnerabilities on individual and network computer systems – and then install malicious software. A computer that’s been hijacked by malware may become a bot (sometimes also called a “zombie”) and be put to criminal use.

BotnetA collection of bots, coordinated by a central system to execute functions that require large amounts of computing power. An individual computer owner may have no idea that his or her computer is part of a botnet.

Browser: A software program that can request, download, cache and display documents available on the web.

Bug: a persistent, graphical element that appears in the video environment. Clicking on it will take the user to a website.


Cache: memory used to temporarily store the most frequently requested content/files/pages in order to speed its delivery to the user. Caches can be local (i.e. On a browser) or on a network. In the case of local cache, most computers have both memory (RAM), and disk (hard drive) cache.

Caching: The practice of temporarily storing files on local servers for quick retrieval the next time the file is needed. Caches reduce the amount of information that needs to be transmitted across the network, as information previously stored in the cache can often be re-used. Cached files supply an old copy that may not be up to date with the file stored at the original source, but are often necessary for improving page load performance.

Campaign: A series of advertisement messages that share a single idea and theme which make up an integrated marketing communication In digital advertising, a campaign will refer to a set of ad buys from a specific ad network or publisher.

CDN: An acronym for the content distribution network, a CDN is a system of geographically dispersed servers used to provide web content to a browser or other client. Files are strategically pulled from a server on the network based on the location of the user, the requesting server, and the delivery server of the CDN to provide the best delivery performance.

Click fraud: A type of fraud that occurs on the Internet in pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising. In this type of advertising, the owners of websites that post the ads are paid an amount of money determined by how many visitors to the sites click on the fraud is a type of internet crime that occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad’s link.

Click rate: Ratio of ad clicks to ad impressions, the click rate is the percentage of ad views that resulted in click-throughs, which indicates the ad’s effectiveness and results in the viewer getting to the website where other messages can be provided.

Click-through rate (CTR): The percentage of ad impressions that were clicked on as compared to the entire number of clicks [CTR% = (clicks ÷ imps) x 100], the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of total users who view a page, email, or advertisement. CTR is commonly used to measure the success of an online advertising campaign for a particular website as well as the effectiveness of email campaigns.

Click through: The measurement of a user clicking on a link that redirects the user’s web-enabled device to another web destination, a click-through is what the sponsoring site counts as a result of an ad click. In practice, click and clickthrough tend to be used interchangeably. A click-through, however, implies that the user actually went to the page. Some advertisers pay only for click-throughs rather than for ad impressions.

Cloud: A term used by web-based companies offering users the ability to access files or services from devices that are connected to the internet (the opposite of storing files or programs on a hard or external drive).

Content delivery network: A service that hosts online assets and provides content management via servers located around the globe to reduce the latency of downloads to users.

Contextual ads: Existing contextual ad engines deliver text and image ads to non-search content pages. Contextual ads are relevant to the page’s content; ads are matched to keywords extracted from the content. Advertisers can leverage existing keyboard-based paid search campaigns and gain access to a larger audience.

Contextual targeting: Targeting content that deals with specific topics, as determined by contextual scanning technology.

Cookie: Also known as an HTTP cookie, web cookie, or browser cookie, is a string of text sent from a web server to a user’s browser that the browser is expected to send back to the web server in subsequent interactions. A cookie has a few core attributes: the cookie value, the domain and path within which it is valid, and the cookie expiry. There are other attributes as well that limit the cookie to HTTPS-only transactions or hide it from JavaScript.

Cookie StuffingAlso known as “cookie dropping,” the practice of providing a client with falsified cookies to give the impression that a user had visited other domains, without the user being aware of it. This is a common trick to defraud affiliate advertising programs.

CPM: Media term describing the cost of 1,000 impressions, an industry-standard measure for selling ads on websites. For example, a website that charges $1,500 per ad and reports 100,000 impressions has a CPM of $15 ($1,500 divided by 100). This measure is taken from print advertising. The M is taken from the Roman numeral for thousand.

CPU: CPU is an acronym for central processing unit, the key component of a computer system, which contains the circuitry necessary to interpret and execute program instructions.

CPU usage: A guideline for the amount of central processing power used to display advertising content compared to what’s available on an individual’s computer. CPU usage percentage can be measured directly, during the execution of an online ad. In addition, to file size, the complexity of drawings, gradients, slow-moving animations and detailed moving elements can affect the number of calculations the CPU must make for each frame.

Cross-device targeting: The ability to serve sequential ad messages to the same consumer from one device to the next (e.g. First on a person’s desktop then again on his/her smartphone).


Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks– Techniques vary, but the most common DoS/DDoS attacks involve flooding the victim’s servers with an unmanageable amount of requests, causing them to overload and essentially shut down. Malware-infected botnets are typically used to carry out these attacks without the owner’s knowledge.

Demand-side platform (DSP): Is a system that allows buyers of digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface. Real-time bidding for displaying online advertising takes place within the ad exchanges, and by utilizing a DSP, marketers can manage their bids for the banners and the pricing for the data that they are layering on to target their audiences.

Digital-out-of-home (DOOH): Also called digital outdoor, this type of ad platform allows the opportunity for the screen to rotate through different advertisers, or to rotate through a single brand’s creative, and in some cases even allows passersby to interact either through touching or motion. DOOH can be used for advertising wrapped around buildings in times square, on large billboards along the highway, and in kiosks in airports and malls.

Display advertising: A form of online advertising where an advertiser’s message is shown on a destination web page, generally set off in a box at the top or bottom or to one side of the content of the page.

Droneware– A specific kind of malware used to take remote control of a user’s computer and, typically, add it to a botnet.


Encryption: Securing digital information so that it is unreadable without the use of digital keys.

Embedding: The act of including unwanted malware alongside legitimate software.

Exploit: A piece of software, chunk of data, or a sequence of commands to attack a computer system or software. The term’s origin points to the fact that most attacks take advantage of bugs or vulnerabilities, rather than relying on so-called “brute force,” which overpowers security systems.


Firewall: A  protective barrier placed between internal and external systems, software and users, this security barrier controls communication between a personal or corporate computer network and the internet.

Floating ads: An ad or ads that appear within the main browser window on top of the web page’s normal content, thereby appearing to float over the top of the page.

Fold: The line below which a user has to scroll to see content not immediately visible when a web page loads in a browser. Ads or content displayed above the fold are visible without any end-user interaction. Monitor size and resolution determine where on a web page the fold lies.


Geographic targeting: A method that enables advertisers to display (or prevent the display of) an ad specifically to visitors based on zip code, area code, city, DMA, state, and/or country derived from user-declared registration information or inference-based mechanism. Relevant to both pc and mobile data devices.

Grayware: As the name implies, software that walks the line between being legitimate and nefarious. For example, unwanted adware that does nothing more than display pop-up ads might be considered grayware. Some publishers may have a greater tolerance for grayware appearing in their inventory.


Hidden Ads: Ads placed in such a manner that they are never viewable. For example, stacked ads, ads clipped by iframes and zero-opacity ads.

Host FileA file containing the names and IP addresses of other computing systems, including websites. Hackers can spoof (discussed in S) a host file, opening the victim’s computer to attack.

HTML5: An acronym for the hypertext markup language, version 5. HTML5 extends earlier versions to include tags for processing video, audio, canvas, another embedded audio and video items without requiring proprietary plug-ins and APIs. HTML5 has been used as an alternative to developing and executing interactions similar to those using Adobe flash but with very different technology.

HTTP: The format most commonly used to transfer documents on the web.


iFrame: Short for the inline frame, this is the area on a website designated for an ad to appear.

Impression: Measurement of responses from a web server to a page request from the user browser, which is filtered from robotic activity and error codes and is recorded at a point as close as possible to opportunity to see the page by the user, also called a view. A single display of online content to a user’s web-enabled device. An online advertisement impression is a single appearance of an advertisement on a web page. Each time an advertisement loads onto a user’s screen, the ad server may count that loading as one impression.

Internet service provider (ISP): A business or organization that provides internet access and related services.

IP address: An IP address is the numerical address assigned to each computer on the internet so that its location and activities can be distinguished from those of other computers.

IP-based geo-targeting: IP-based geo-targeted advertising is delivered to a user’s geographic location as determined by his or her internet protocol (IP) address.


JavaScript libraries: A collection of pre-written code used to simplify the development of web-based applications.

Journalistic video: Content that was shot and used by the actual publisher. MSNBC journalists shoot a video and use the video for their own purposes.

JPEG: Standard web graphic file format that uses a compression technique to reduce graphic file sizes.


Keylogger: Software that records keystrokes to covertly capture a user’s password and other credentials (see also spyware).

Keyword: Specific word(s) entered into a search engine by the user that result(s) in a list of websites related to the keyword. Keywords can be purchased by advertisers in order to embed ads linking to the advertiser’s site within search results (see search engine marketing.)

Keyword targeting: Targeting content that contains specific keywords.

Kick-off campaign: The first meeting with the project team and the client of the project to discuss a plan or strategy before launching a campaign.


Latency: can be seen as the time it takes for a data packet to move across a network connection, the visible delay between request and display of content and ad. Latency sometimes leads to the user leaving the site prior to the opportunity to see it.



Macro VirusMalicious software built specifically inside a specific program. In the 1990s, Microsoft Excel was famously infected by macro viruses that were passed along unknowingly within spreadsheets.

Malware: Is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network. Bby contrast, software that causes unintentional harm due to some deficiency is typically described as a software bug. A wide variety of types of malware exist, including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, rogue software, and scareware.

MalvertisingThe use of online advertising to spread malware. It typically involves injecting malicious or malware-laden advertisements into legitimate online advertising networks and web pages.

Man-in-the-Browser (MITB) and Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) AttacksBy inserting themselves into a transaction without detection, MITB and MITM attackers intercept sensitive data – but typically allow the transaction to continue. For example, a hacker might sit “in the middle” of a bank transfer, collecting the user’s account information; the transfer is not actually interrupted, leaving the attacker undetected.

Metadata: Data that provides information about other data. This includes descriptions of the characteristics of information, such as quality, origin, context, content and structure.

MRAID:  An acronym for mobile rich media ad interface definition, or MRAID, is an Application Programming Interface (API) designed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The MRAID protocol is designed to work across different mobile operating systems and app environments. MRAID is a protocol used for ad servers, ad units, and mobile devices that enables the communication between an ad and a mobile application in order to execute interactions such as geolocation, ad resizing, and accelerometer functions among others.


Native advertising: A form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. These paid ads aspire to be so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.


Online publisher: A creator and/or aggregator of online content, which often monetizes user visits by displaying advertisements.

Open auction: A programmatic marketplace where real-time bidding (RTB) occurs, and any advertiser or publisher can participate.

Operating system: An operating system (OS) is a set of programs that manage computer hardware resources and provide common services for application software. The operating system is a vital component of the system software in a computer system. Example operating systems include Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS and macOS, and Linux.

Out of home (OOH): Advertising placements that appear in public places, for example, billboards, airports, grocery stores, taxi cabs, bus stations, etc.

Over-the-top device (OTT): A device that can connect to tv to facilitate the delivery of internet-based video content (i.e., streaming boxes, media streaming devices, gaming consoles).

Overlay: An overlay is a media element or ad unit that ‘floats’ above other content briefly when initiated. This could be text floating over the video, or an expanding banner ad expanding over page content.

Overlay ad: A banner ad that appears in the bottom 20% of the video window. Click action initiates a linear video spot or takes the user to a website.


Page request: The opportunity for an HTML document to appear on a browser window as a direct result of a user’s interaction with a website.

Page view: When the page is actually seen by the user. Some platforms, like Facebook cache preview images for applications, can mean that page views are not counted until a user clicks through to an application canvas page.

Paid media: Any media that is paid for to drive traffic to owned media properties; you pay to boost your exposure through the channel.

Pay per click (PPC): An advertising pricing model in which advertisers pay agencies and/or media companies based on how many users clicked on an online ad or e-mail message through to their website. The amount paid per click-through is arranged at the time of the insertion order and varies considerably. Higher pay per click rates recognizes that there may be some no-click branding value as well as click-through value provided. See CPC.

Pay-per-impression: An advertising pricing model in which advertisers pay based on how many users were served their ads. See CPM.

Persistent cookie: Cookies that remain on a client’s hard drive until they expire (as determined by the website that set them) or are deleted by the end-user.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII): A legal term that can include an individual’s name, birth date, social security number, account number, email address and so forth. Gathered by malware, PII is traded openly on the black market, with the most sensitive data commanding the highest prices. Even seemingly innocuous personal details, such as those gathered by many publishers, can gain value when paired with data stolen from other sites.

Pharming: A form of phishing, farmers redirect unsuspecting users to a malicious website, often by spoofing (discussed in S) the legitimate destination. The purpose can be for stealing PII, installing a specific kind of malware, or adding the victim’s computer to a botnet.

PhishingTypically attributed to malware, phishing is actually malicious activity and NOT malware.  The differentiating factor here is that there is no software involved, just deception. The attackers acquire sensitive details by masquerading as a trusted authority. Publishers are particularly vulnerable to phishing attacks on their subscribers, who may reflexively trust an email that looks legitimate at a quick glance.

Pixel: A web beacon, also known as a web bug, 1 by 1 gif, invisible gif, and tracking pixel, is a tiny image referenced by a line of HTML or a block of JavaScript code embedded into a website or third-party ad server to track activity.

The image used is generally a single pixel that is delivered to the web browser with HTML instructions that keep it from affecting the website layout. The web beacon will typically include user information like cookies on the HTTP headers, and website information on the query string.

Pixel (as a unit of measure): The smallest unit of measure for graphical elements in digital imagery, used as the standard unit of measure for ad creative (i.e. 300×250 pixels). Pixels may also represent x/y coordinates relevant to a given space, such as the browser window, an application workspace or the user’s computer screen. (see also tracking pixel)

Plug-in: A program application that can easily be installed and used as part of a web browser. Once installed, plug-in applications are recognized by the browser and their function integrated into the main HTML file being presented.

Port Scanning: Using software designed specifically for locations (or “ports”) on servers and individual computers, malware can find vulnerabilities before IT has time to install a patch.

Potentially Unwanted Application (PUA) and Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP): Related to Grayware, PUAs and PUPs are applications, programs, or plug-ins that may be relatively harmless, like adware, or may hide destructive code such as a virus or worm.

Price floors: The minimum bid required for an ad impression in an auction-based media market

Private marketplace (PMP): A programmatic marketplace where real-time bidding (RTB occurs, yet only select advertisers are allowed to bid on a vendor’s inventory (see also: open marketplace)

Programmatic: Media or ad buying that uses technology to automate and optimize, in real-time, the ad buying process. This ultimately serves targeted and relevant experiences to consumers across channels. On the back end, algorithms filter ad impressions derived from consumer behavioral data, which allows advertisers to define budget, goal, and attribution and optimize for reduced risk while increasing ROI.

Protocol: A uniform set of rules that enable two devices to connect and transmit data to one another. Protocols determine how data are transmitted between computing devices and over networks. They define issues such as error control and data compression methods. The protocol determines the following: type of error checking to be used, data compression method (if any), how the sending device will indicate that it has finished a message and how the receiving device will indicate that it has received the message. Internet protocols include TCP/IP (transfer control protocol/internet protocol), HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), FTP (file transfer protocol), and SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol).

Proxy servers: Intermediaries between end-users and websites such as ISPs, commercial online services, and corporate networks. Proxy servers hold the most commonly and recently used content from the web for users in order to provide quicker access and to increase server security.

Publisher: An individual or organization that prepares, issues, and disseminates content for public distribution or sale via one or more media.

Publisher ad tag: Code that is placed on a publisher’s web page that calls an ad server for the purposes of displaying an advertisement.

Publisher pixel: An object embedded in a web page (typically a 1×1 image pixel) that calls a web server for purposes of tracking some kind of user activity.

Push advertising: Pro-active, partial screen, a dynamic advertisement that comes in various formats.


Query: A request for information, usually to a search engine.


RansomwareA popular new form of malware that takes control of a user’s files, computer or server, then demands payment to release the data or controls. Ransomware has gained popularity in part due to Bitcoin, which makes it possible to receive ransom payments anonymously.

Real-time bidding (RTB): Way of transacting media that allows an individual ad impression to be put up for bid in real-time. This is done through a programmatic on-the-spot auction, which is similar to how financial markets operate. RTB allows for addressable advertising; the ability to serve ads to consumers directly based on their demographic, psychographic, or behavioral attributes.

Redirect: When used in reference to online advertising, one server assigning an ad-serving function to another server, often operated by a third company operating on behalf of an agency.

For instance, a web publisher’s ad management server might issue a redirect to the browser or client which points to an agency ad server (AAS) hired by an advertiser to distribute its ads to a target audience across a broad list of sites. There is no limit to the number of redirects that can come into play before the delivery of an actual ad. The agency ad server in turn may redirect the browser to a rich media vendor (RMV) or digital video ad server.

RTB: the RTB acronym indicates a real-time system for either bidding on or buying ad inventory. The initial RTB ecosystems evolved from the efforts of DSPs to create a more efficient exchange of inventory. Due to these roots, RTB ecosystems put significant emphasis on user information (demographic and behavioral data, for example), while discounting the situation information (the publisher and context).


Safeframe: A managed API-enabled iframe that opens a line of communication between the publisher page content and the iframe-contained external content, such as ads, and so content served into a safe frame is afforded data collection and rich interaction, such as ad expansion, that is unavailable in a standard iframe

Scripts: Files that initiate routines like generating web pages dynamically in response to user input.

Scareware: Typically masquerading as adware, scareware is designed to frighten users into believing their systems are vulnerable, prompting them to install a solution. The new installation, of course, is the true malware.

Search: Fees advertisers pay Internet companies to list and/or link their company site or domain name to a specific search word or phrase (includes paid search revenues). Search categories include:

  • Paid listings: text links appear at the top or side of search results for specific keywords. The more a marketer pays, the higher the position it gets. Marketers only pay when a user clicks on the text link.
  • Contextual search: text links appear in an article based on the context of the content, instead of a user-submitted keyword. Payment only occurs when the link is clicked.
  • Paid inclusion: guarantees that a marketer’s URL is indexed by a search engine. The listing is determined by the engine’s search algorithms.

Search engine: A website that provides a searchable index of online content, whereby users enter keywords describing what they are seeking and the website returns links related to this search query.

Search retargeting: A method that enables advertisers to show an ad specifically to visitors based on one or more searches or search click events.

Search targeting: Local search targeting helps advertisers target users when they look for places, businesses, housing, entertainment, etc. In specific geographies using a search engine (such as Google or Bing). This allows advertisers to present highly relevant localized offers and advertisements to users.

Sell-side platform (SSP): Also called sell-side optimizer, inventory aggregator, and yield optimizer is a technology platform that provides outsourced media selling and ad network management services for publishers. A sell-side platform business model resembles that of an ad network in that it aggregates ad impression inventory. However, a sell-side platform serves publishers exclusively and does not provide services for advertisers. The inventory managed by the SSP is usually purchased by aggregate buyers, either demand-side platforms (DSPs) or ad networks.

Session: (1) A sequence of Internet activity made by one user at one site. If a user makes no request from a site during a 30-minute period of time, the next content or ad request would then constitute the beginning of a new visitor (2) a series of transactions performed by a user that can be tracked across successive websites. For example, in a single session, a user may start on a publisher’s website, click on an advertisement, and then go to an advertiser’s website and make a purchase. See visit.

Session cookies: These are temporary and are erased when the browser exits at the end of a web surfing session. See cookie.

SpoofingThe act of falsely representing a known website, service or email address in the hopes of prompting users to install malware or divulge sensitive personal data.

SpywareSoftware that gathers personal or organizational details withoxut the user’s knowledge or consent.


Tags: Software code that an advertiser provides to a publisher or ad network that calls the advertiser’s ad server for the purposes of displaying an advertisement.

Target audience: The intended audience for an ad, usually defined in terms of specific demographics (age, sex, income, etc.) Product purchase behavior, product usage or media usage.

Third-party ad server: Independent outsourced companies that specialize in managing, maintaining, serving, tracking, and analyzing the results of online ad campaigns. They deliver targeted advertising that can be tailored to consumers declared or predicted characteristics or preferences.

Trojan Horse VirusNamed for the Trojan Horse in Virgil’s Aeneid, these viruses appear to be innocent but actually conceal dangerous malware. Unlike worms and traditional viruses, Trojans don’t spread on their own – they trick users into installing them. Once in place, they can download even more malware, steal personal information, or turn over root-level access to hackers.


Unique cookie: A count of unique identifiers…that represents unduplicated instances of internet activity (generally visits) to internet content or advertising during a measurement period.

Unique device: An unduplicated computing device that is used to access internet content or advertising during a measurement period. A count of unduplicated devices necessarily accounts for multiple browser usage on an individual computer or another computing device.

Unique listeners/streamers: A metric specific to digital audio, the size of the audience for a given audio program, piece of content, or advertising message. Typically ‘listeners’ and ‘streamers’ are interchangeable.

URL (uniform resource locator): The unique identifying address of any particular page on the web. It contains all the information required to locate a resource, including its protocol (usually HTTP), server domain name (or IP address), file path (directory and name) and format (usually HTML or CGI).

URL tagging: The process of embedding unique identifiers into URLs contained in HTML content. These identifiers are recognized by web servers on subsequent browser requests. Identifying visitors through information in the URLs should also allow for an acceptable calculation of visits if caching is avoided.


Vector: The method that code uses to propagate itself or infect a computer.

Viewability: A term used to describe whether or not a digital media ever appeared in the space within a webpage that was in view to the viewer – for example, when a viewer opens his browser and goes to a website, most often the webpage is longer than the browser window, so the viewer must scroll to continue reading down the page; if an ad never scrolls into that viewable space it is not considered viewable.

IAB and MRC standards for measuring and buying digital impressions that must meet the following minimum criteria: • pixel requirement: greater than or equal to 50% of the pixels in the advertisement were on an in-focus browser tab on the viewable space of the browser page, and • time requirement: the time the pixel requirement is met was greater than or equal to one continuous second, post ad render. • video time requirement: to qualify for counting as a viewable video ad impression, it is required that 2 continuous seconds of the video advertisement is played, meeting the same pixel requirement of 50%.

Visit: A single continuous set of activity attributable to a cookied browser or user (if registration-based or a panel participant) resulting in one or more pulled texts and/or graphics downloads from a site. Click here for IAB’s ad campaign measurement guidelines.

Visit duration: The length of time the visitor is exposed to a specific ad, web page or website during a single session.

Visitor: Individual or browser which accesses a website within a specific time period.

Virus– A software, plug-in, or other types of code designed to wreak havoc on a computer, typically by attaching itself to existing software.

VPAID (video player ad interface definition): A protocol used for ad servers, ad units, and publishers to communicate with each other in order to serve video ads with interactive capabilities on desktop

VRML (virtual reality modeling language): Programming language designed to be a 3d analog to HTML.


Waterfall: The order of priority in which advertisers have the opportunity to buy inventory. Demand sources could include direct sales, networks, or exchanges.

Wearable: Devices, such as the apple watch or Fitbit, that are physically worn on a consumer and can connect to the internet or communicate with a computer or smartphone. Additionally, wearables are a subset of a category known as the internet of things or IOT.

Web crawler: A web crawler (also known as an automatic indexer, bot, web spider, web robot) is a software program that visits web pages in a methodical, automated manner. This process is called web crawling or spidering, and the resulting data is used for various purposes, including building indexes for search engines, validating that ads are being displayed in the appropriate context, and detecting malicious code on compromised web servers.

Many web crawlers will politely identify themselves via their user-agent string, which provides a reliable way of excluding a significant amount of non-human traffic from advertising metrics. The IAB (in conjunction with ABCE) maintains a list of known user-agent strings as the spiders and bots list. However, those web crawlers attempting to discover malicious code often must attempt to appear to be human traffic, which requires secondary, behavioral filtering to detect. Most web crawlers will respect a file called robots.txt, hosted in the root of a web site. This file informs the web crawler which directories should and shouldn’t be indexed but does not enact any actual access restrictions. Technically, a web crawler is a specific type of bot or software agent. See bot and intelligent agents.

WormRelated to viruses, worms are also designed to duplicate and distribute themselves across a system or network. Unlike viruses, which are attached to specific software, worms are generally standalone, relying instead on vulnerabilities to spread.




Zero-Day Exploit- Also known as Zero-Hour, this is the brief breach window that a vulnerability – that is unknown and/or unpatched by the vendor – is exploited.


Alisha is a Technology Writer and Marketing Manager at GeoEdge. Her writing focuses on current events in the AdTech ecosystem and cyberattacks served through the digital advertising supply chain. You can find Alisha on LinkedIn to discuss brand building and happenings in AdTech.

Malvertising, the practice of sprinkling malicious code into legitimate-looking ads is growing more sophisticated. GeoEdge’s holistic ad quality solution has you covered.


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