The Ultimate Guide to Ad Ops Terms

Maybe you’re new to the field of ad ops or perhaps you are a veteran. Every once in a while, someone throws out a term that makes you scratch your head. Don’t sweat it. We’ve compiled here a list of the relevant terms and acronyms in the field. Now you too can baffle your friends and co-workers with the occasional non-sequitur.


Above the Fold (ATF)

The top of a webpage or the part that is viewable without having to scroll down. This is typically the first 1000 pixels. Since it the only part that a user is certain to see, it is considered the most desirable by advertisers and hence ads located here demand a higher price than those located below the fold.


Ad Group
A group of ads united by similar parameters. These include: a single budget, where and when they will be served and which events will qualify as delivery. Events may include such things as: all the ads appearing on the same page or all appearing to the user at least once, in order for delivery to be considered completed.


A unique number assigned to an ad to distinguish it from other ads.


Ad Network
A company that sells advertising space for a group of websites. These groups often center around a specific topic, such as fashion or electronics – but not necessarily.


Ad Server
A web tool used by advertisers, publishers and networks for ad and ad campaign management. As such it performs a number of vital tasks. The Ad Server stores, organizes and delivers advertising images (creatives) to user browsers. They often include advanced analytical tools that can count the number of impressions delivered and clicks achieved for a specific ad campaign, tell which ads were served on which website and also generate relevant reports. This data helps optimize ad campaigns.


Ad Tag
Code used on websites to sell ad space and place impressions. It consists of a URL address and a piece of HTML or JavaScript code. Together they tell the browser how to display the impression.


API – Application Programming Interface
An interface that enables third party developers to create apps that connect with proprietary web applications. Usually included in Software Development Kits (SDKs) – APIs enable the automated serving of ads, especially in the mobile ad tech sector.


The identification of touchpoints in a consumer’s conversion path. These touchpoints could be anything from a click to go to a landing page, entering an email address to receive a newsletter, full registration of a user’s details, putting a product in a cart, making a purchase, etc. Attribution helps quantify the effectiveness of an ad, enabling marketers to compare between one ad and another.


Click Through
When a user clicks on an ad impression.


CPC – Cost-per-Click
The price an advertiser agrees to pay a web publisher every time a web surfer clicks on one its ads.


CPI – Cost-per-Install
The price an advertiser agrees to pay a web publisher every time a web surfer installs a mobile application linked to a displayed advertisement.


CPM – Cost-per-Mille
The price an advertiser agrees to pay a web publisher every time it displays its ad 1000 times.


CTR – Click-Through Rate
The most popular metric for determining ad campaign effectiveness. A percentage derived from the ratio of clicks per ad impressions.


DMP – Data Management Platform
A centralized digital warehouse for storing large data sets from multiple sources: marketers, publishers and other businesses. The data can be processed to provide extremely useful information for highly targeted marketing campaigns and live interactive channel environments.


DNT – Do Not Track
An HTTP header field that prevents the tracking of individual users. It works by sending a signal to other websites, ad networks and social platforms, requesting them to disable any tracking. Unfortunately, due to a lack of enforcement, many sites fail to honor DNT requests.


DSP – Demand Side Platform
Enables advertisers to purchase the most appropriate spaces for their ads by exposing them to the largest possible ad impression inventory, from multiple wed publishers. Here’s how it works. The DSP connects to a Supply Side Platform (SSP) which holds the inventory of impressions. A Real-Time Bidding system automatically purchases the ads for the lowest possible price based on prerequisites set by the advertiser. Using the DSP dashboard, the advertiser can also deliver their ads and track them.


eCPM – Effective Cost-per-Mille
Metric for measuring revenue generated across various marketing channels. Its calculated by multiplying the number of clicks by the cost per click to determine total revenue. That amount is then divided by the number of blocks of 1,000 impressions delivered (Total Spent/Impressions Delivered).


Geo-Targeting & Geo-Fencing
Delivering ads specialized to suit a specific geographic location. For example – advertising baseball caps with the emblem of the local team just in that city. Not to be confused with Geo-Fencing, which is an ad which appears on a mobile device when a user enters a defined virtual area. For example – a coupon for coffee which displays when you walk by a café.


GRP – Gross Rating Point
Measures an ad campaign’s impact. The GRP is the standard metric by which media buyers compare the advertising power of different media outlets. It’s calculated by multiplying the exposure frequency by the reach percentage. For example, if a television ad is shown four times and each time 45% of the audience sees it, the GRP would be 180.


Header Bidding Wrappers
Used by Real Time Bidding systems to manage the bidding process. The wrappers enable multiple functions. They ensure all partner bid requests are triggered simultaneously, provide for a time out that enables bidder responses and translates all bids into a common key value for the ad server.


To display most online multimedia ads you need Adobe’s Flash plugin – but the majority of mobile devices don’t support it. They do, however, support HTML5, which also allows users to view rich media. With the growing power of mobile, the industry is gradually adopting the new technology. HTML5 includes features such as video playback and drag-and-drop functionality.


Insertion Order (IO)
A purchase order specifying the details of an advertising campaign, including: creatives to-be-run, number of impressions to serve, when and where to serve the impressions, etc.


Key Value
A unique identifier which matches an ad to an appropriate ad slot. Both the ad and the ad request have a key value. If they match an impression is made.


MRAID – Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface
A protocol which enables ad servers, ad units and mobiles to communicate with each other in order to serve interactive mobile ads.


Pixel Tracking
A pixel is a single point in a graphic. When code or other images are written to a page, a blank pixel is displayed to record the ad impression.


Let’s say a user looks at some products on a retail site, then moves on to a news site. But the ads on the news site display products he or she looked at just a minute ago. Retargeting is the ability of advertisers to continue to market to consumers even after they have moved on past the site where they initially encountered a product, service or company.


A group of ads which must all appear together on a single page for delivery to be achieved.


RTB – Real Time Bidding
An automated auction held every time someone’s browser loads an ad unit. The RTB system receives multiple bids from advertisers via Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and awards the space to the highest bidder. All this takes place within a 100ms. By buying an ad space in real-time, the advertiser can achieve highly targeted marketing, even taking advantage of the surfing habits of the targeted consumer.


Run of Category/Website/Network
An ad, banner or ad campaign that is set to appear anywhere within a specific category of a website, or throughout an entire website or ad network.


SDK – Software Development Kit
The original term refers to a kit used to create applications for a specific platform. Today, it also means easy to use development tools for creating mobile apps. Applied to ad tech, SDK is a string of code inserted into mobile apps allowing them to communicate with publisher ad platforms. This enables many uses, including the analysis and monetization of mobile apps. In contrast to APIs, which do this for standard and native formats, SDKs serve interstitial and rich media formats.


Sell Through
The percentage of an ad slot inventory that web publishers or ad networks have sold to advertisers.


SSP – Supply Side Platform
A marketplace for ad impressions. It enables web publishers to get the highest price possible for each ad impression delivered, by exposing it to the highest number of bidders. Here’s how it works. Demand Side Platforms (DSP), representing multiple ad networks and ad exchanges, plug into an SSP to automatically bid on the publisher’s ad space inventory, using Real-Time-Bidding.


VPAID – Video Player Ad Interface Definition
Enables the playing of enhanced video ads with interactive elements. VPAID is a protocol that helps ad servers, ad units and publishers communicate with each other to serve interactive video ads.

Take A Deeper Dive Into the Ad Tech Industry 
Eliana is a marketing strategist with a passion for technology and storytelling. Eliana’s work has been featured in places like Slashdot, the RSA conference, and Facebook’s PyTorch publications. You can find more about Eliana on Linkedin.

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


450+ Publishers & Platforms