AdTech Glossary

This AdTech glossary explains the acronyms, initialisms, and unique terminology used in the online advertising technology and AdTech industries.

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Ad tech glossary



Ad operations, a.k.a. advertising operations, is the management and delivery of online ads. Ad operations workflow involves various tasks such as ad management, site management, ad revenue optimization, ad performance reporting, and more; all directed towards one goal—better ad delivery and higher ad revenue for the publisher.


Display ads are created with intent
 to maximize the awareness for a brand or product. But showing same
 ad to everyone won’t do any good. It requires targeting and precision. Hence, display ads are now being targeted as per the visitors’ likes, thanks to technological evolution. 

Audience Segmentation

Audience segmentation is a process of dividing the audience into segments based on predefined criteria such as behavior, geographical location, historical data, product usage, and other parameters. In the ad tech industry, audience segmentation is used for ad targeting.

Ad Tags

An ad tag is a piece of code (HTML or JavaScript) that is placed on the publisher’s website to display ads. Ad tags are placeholders for the ad creatives on the publisher’s site. 

These tags contain the details of the size, format, and other requirements of the ad unit. Ad tag serves different purposes for different parties (advertisers, ad networks, ad servers, and third-party services).


Attribution is a way to link a specific advertisement to an acquisition or conversion.
One of the most common attribution model is last view/last click ads that you might have come across while searching the web.

As AdTech advances, the user of attribution is increasing and there is a surge of new models of attribution as well.

AD server

Ad server is a service/application that places targeted ads on your website(s) depending on the instruction received. It uses a server to store various types of ads and deliver them as per the user’s online behaviour.

Apart from putting ads on a site, it also manages bits of both buyer and seller side tasks. And mostly benefits the advertisers by monitoring the clicks from users and store data of their online behavior.


A person, agency, or company that is interested in displaying ads to consumers on digital and print media can be called as an advertiser.

Reaching the right people with the product or service they may be interested in is pivotal for the sustenance of any business. The ad management team is responsible for making it happen. 


An Ad Network is a company that aggregates available ad space across a large collection of publishers (websites), marks up this inventory and sells to advertisers.

Some examples of large Ad Networks include Google AdSense, Media.Net, BuySellAds and Propeller Ads.


Ad exchange, a metaphorical crossroads, connects thousands of publishers and advertisers.

It provides a platform to sell and buy ad inventories using its connections with various ad networks and supply-side platforms.

During real-time bidding, publishers look for the highest bidder and advertisers want the best impressions to make their ad campaign successful. And this is made possible by exchanges.

Advertising Management

Advertising management or ad management is a complex process of deploying a set of tools and software to sell a good or service. The process begins with employing marketing research and different media campaigns that help sell the product. 

In the absence of effective ad management, the advertising campaign goes down the drain eliciting no substantial response or desired action from the audience.

AD verification

Ad verification is a service that offers technology to ensure (buyers) that ads appear on intended sites and reach the targeted audience.

Ad verification is supposed to be integrated with all ad networks, exchanges, SSPs, basically anyone who sells advertising space online, to provide a safeguard for brands, advertisers, and agencies that buy it.

ADs. txt

Authorized Digital Seller (abbreviated as Ads.txt) is a list of all partners (including the publisher himself) authorized to sell digital inventory. This list is saved as a text file and uploaded to the root domain with all the authorized sellers.

With the help of Ads.txt, buyers can verify the seller(s) assigned to trade inventory. This file goes directly into the root domain. And without proper access, nobody can alter a website’s back-end settings, making it safe to trust.

Ad blockers

Users install ad blockers for a number of reasons. Some do it because they find ads annoying or intrusive while others want to safeguard their privacy and security.

Neglecting the needs of users leads to the adoption of ad blockers. Digiday predicts that ad blockers will cost publishers $35 billion in 2020.


The role of ads.cert is to authenticate the exchange between buyer and seller at each stage of digital ad supply chain, ensuring no information is modified or altered.

IAB introduced ads.cert to complement ads.txt. It will be wrong to say that ads.cert is an update of ads.txt. However, using ads.cert with ads.txt should bring comprehensive security against ad fraud.

AD fraud

Ad fraud is one of the major problems that is being faced by parties involved in the ad tech industry. According to TrafficGuard, advertisers lose 26% of their ad campaign budget due to ad fraud if they don’t have any fraud detection solution in place.

To top it off, this is just the direct cost of ad fraud, which is further increased by taking into account indirect costs. 


Whether a publisher, advertiser, or marketer, we all know what ad optimization means 一 finding, experimenting, and extracting the best out of resources and options present in the ad world to make more money

In most cases, the intent of ad optimization is to find the most effective ways of ad revenue growth. Some do it because they find ads annoying or intrusive while others want to safeguard their privacy and security.


Google’s AMPHTML technology combines AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) to create faster, lighter, and more secure ad creatives. These ads can run on both AMP and non-AMP pages.

In order to create an AMPHTML ad, ad specs provided by Google must be followed. This uses predefined HTML, CSS, and JavaScript libraries provided by the AMP Open Source Project.


AMP in advertising is a way to build web pages for static content, that allows the pages to load faster than regular HTML. When the ads load fast, it creates a positive impact on user’s perception and advertiser performance.

AMP ads improves click-through rates by up to 50 percent, but there is the issue of slow ads. Ads aren’t as fast as content right now, but it’s something we’re working on.


Ad injection is an activity involving insertion of ads on a publisher’s web page without taking his/her permission. It’s a program that can insert new ads or replace existing ones during web surfing sessions of a user.

The publishers who are not running any ads on their webpages can also get affected as unwanted ads are blocking content on their webpages.


‘AdSense alternatives’ has become a common search query despite Google AdSense being the most popular ad network for publishers just starting with ad monetization.

During their ad monetization journey, publishers find themselves looking for alternatives to Google AdSense.

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Adtech glossary



A bid request comprises certain lines of code containing the details required to sell inventory and display ads. 

It’s a set of information sent by ad exchanges to the advertisers containing inventory details about the platform, number of impressions, and keys to user-data (IP, pixels, tags, cookies).

Using this bid request, the advertisers place their bid for the inventory and then finally place their ad.


The term specifically refers to the use of rectangular ad sizes for displaying ads. The ad creative can be an image, text, or a combination of both these things.

However, publishers might have noticed that image-based banner ads are the most popular. The reasons for the widespread use of banner ads in the ad tech industry are that they can effectively help in building brand value, easy to implement, and can be used for retargeting


Banner blindness refers to a phenomenon whereby website users consciously or unconsciously ignore or skip banner advertisements or information present in a banner like fashion.

One metric used to indicate the effectiveness of a particular banner is its Click-Through Rate (CTR). Banner blindness is almost a timeless user practice where they tend to consciously or subconsciously ignore banner advertisements.


Bot traffic simply means non-human visitors are coming to your website. Whether yours is a big, popular website or a new one, a certain percentage of bots will pay you a visit at some point of time. 

Traffic bots or web robots are automated to visit premium websites and appear as targetable humans (audience). Some bots perform repetitive tasks like copying, ad clicking, posting comments, or any activity that can be included in malvertising


Also known as device fingerprinting, browser fingerprinting is a process through which information about a device is collected via a web browser.

The set of information related to the device is referred to as a browser fingerprint. Each device or browser has a unique configuration and the specific information can be used to develop a digital fingerprint of that device. 


By nomenclature, bid, a proposed value for something you want to acquire + caching, the storage of data for future use collectively sums up to bid caching—the storage of primary bid information applied at a subsequent point in case the original RTB request is not met.

In definition, bid caching reuses a bid you’ve submitted for one auction in future auctions. In case you fail to win the bid, your saved bid is applied in a subsequent action with possibility of a slightly different targeting.


All the data passed with a bid request is called bidstream data. It originates from the publisher’s website or app with basic details related to ad units like URL, device type, IP address, and ad format.

None of the users’ PII (Personally Identifiable Information) is exchanged using bidstream. Even if the advertiser doesn’t win the impression, the bidstream data will remain stored until deleted manually.

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Ad tech glossary



Cookies are essentially pieces of code saved by websites onto the user’s web browser when a session is initiated. Cookies have a lot of uses but the most important ones are session management, user personalization, and tracking.

Cookies are not programs, they do not perform any functions. These are simple text files that can be opened using Notepad. In ad tech, cookies are used to track users across the web. 


Contextual advertising uses keywords on a web page to display ads. Unlike behavioural targeting where tracking pixels and cookies are used, contextual targeting displays relevant ads based on content on the page. 

This has a positive impact on users browsing the web page. The ads remain contextually relevant, thus getting better viewability. In a 2020 study conducted by Seedtag and Metrix Quality, contextually targeted ads with rich media yielded stronger view quality. 


‘Mille’ is Latin for thousand, which is why CPM is sometimes referred to as cost per thousand impressions. 

To put it simply, cost per mille is the amount of money that an advertiser spends (and a publisher receives) for every 1000 impressions on a publisher’s website. 

The formula for calculating CPM is:
(Calculated Budget of the Campaign/Number of impressions) x 1000


Conversion refers to any action performed by a user in response to an ad or message displayed to them. 

Some of the most common examples of conversion include signing up for a service, filling in a form, making a purchase, or downloading a file, software, etc. 

ctr (click-through rate)

CTR is the relationship between impressions and clicks: out of the number of times your ad or search result is shown to a visitor, how often users click it.

Basically, click through rate is the number of times an ad is clicked divided by the number of times the page or ad unit is viewed. 

CTR = No. of clicks / No. of exposures
CTR% = No. of clicks * 100 / No. of exposures


COPPA stands for ‘The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998.’  This act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that stipulates what online service providers, website operators, and marketers should do to protect minor’s privacy and safety on the web. 

Though the act is 20 years old, the need for COPPA compliance has increased over the past few years because of heightened cases of online child abuse and privacy violations. 


CPC = total cost of campaign ÷ number of clicks.
CPC rates minimize the risk for advertisers since they only pay when someone actually clicks on their ad – but rates can go quite high, up to as much as $20 per click or more, especially when targeting high-demand audiences or popular phrases on Google.

Consent Management Platform

Consent Management Platforms are companies that specialise in helping online businesses achieve GDPR compliance. Most CMPs operate on IAB’s transparency and consent framework.

Without privacy laws and regulations, the companies that collect user data cannot be held accountable, can freely share data with third-parties, and also claim limited or no liability in case of a data breach.

Customer data platforms

Customer data platforms collect data from a variety of sources including email forms, CRM, data management platforms, etc.

This data is then analyzed to form individual customer profiles, something exclusively offered by only this technology.

CDPs have ordinarily served as an important tool for a marketer but their importance for publishers is increasing now more than ever. 

Ad tech glossary



The Display Lumascape, or Luma landscape, is a map that categorizes different companies functioning in the ad tech ecosystem on the basis of their primary purpose. 

Terry Kawaja, an ad tech banker, started off this venture in 2010 by organizing an ad tech industry map created by Nick Macshane, the founder of Progress Partners. Since its inception, Lumascape has been in demand from various companies in the ad tech industry. 


When you visit any website, you see small and large ads across the web pages. These are display ads. Display ads often referred to as banner ads and are being used for more than 2 decades now.

These ads are often placed along with the original content with brands logo to get visitors’ attention. Display ads can have varied size, type, format, and more.

Data And Analytics

Data can be collected from a wide array of sources (your website, social media platforms, partner websites, surveys, online apps, plugins, and more). 

In the case of Google Analytics, the data comes from analytics tracking codes embedded in the code of your online properties, which is why it’s highly reliable. 


A DSP or a Demand-Side Platform is a system that offers demand management to buyers / advertisers. DSPs helps advertisers look for and buy inventory from the marketplace.

Demand-side platforms are also responsible for managing real-time bidding for advertisers. They keep advertisers informed by sending them updates about upcoming auctions.


DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) is an ad management tool that allows publishers to sell, schedule, deliver, and manage their ad inventory. 

Google has now rebranded DFP as Google Ad Manager (GAM), a unified platform to manage all our ads in one place.

Since it’s built and managed by Google, you can expect an intuitive user interface and robust functioning that you’ve likely experienced with AdSense.

data management platforms

Data management platforms (DMP), highly reliant on third-party data, have long served as a one-stop solution to a marketer’s needs.

Acting as a repository for data-related needs, the best DMPs have helped publishers in organizing and profitably using first, second, and mainly third-party data to leverage revenue earning opportunities. 

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Footer bidding prioritises the user experience and page loading speed. It allows you to start the auction once the page is loaded completely. 

Publishers can hold back the ad requests to Google Ad Manager and Prebid until all the web elements such as tracking pixels, images, and content are fully-loaded. 


Price floors let buyers in a programmatic auction know they won’t be able to buy an impression cheaper than at a certain price.

So, if you set up a price floor of $5 and receive the following bids: $4, $5, $6 and $7, then only the last two bids will be considered. Publishers set price floors to ensure that their inventory is not undersold.


Publishers strive to sell as many ad impressions as possible at the best price. Of course, the intent is to make money. And this is where ad fill rate comes in equation.

Ad fill rate is the percentage of ads ‘getting served’ out of the total number of ‘ad calls’ being requested on a site/page.


First-party data is user information that is collected through a publisher’s own website. This data is collected through several tools and resources such as CRM, business analytics, and others.

Traditionally, third-party cookies have been used for behavioral targeting. Owing to this, publishers have largely ignored the large amount of first-party data that they own.


First-price auction: In this model, the buyer pays the exact amount based on their winning bid. Because of this, buyers try to bid close to what the impression is actually worth to them. 

Generally speaking, this auction maximizes revenue for the seller.


Frequency capping means to restrict an ad (or a campaign) from appearing on a visitor’s screen over and over again.

The objective is to reduce banner burnout—a phenomenon where showing an ad repeatedly to a visitor, results in reduced clickthrough rates.

First Contentful Paint

A website’s First Contentful Paint is when the browser retrieves and renders the first DOM element of the page. Canvas elements, images, or tex, non-white elements, and SVGs are considered DOM content. 

In simple words, FCP is the time it takes for a website user to see any content on their browser once they’ve clicked on the website link. 

First Input Delay

First Input Delay is one of the Core Web Vital metrics that measures the amount of time it takes for a browser to respond to a user’s first interaction with a page.

This interaction could be in the form of clicking a link, tapping on a button, or interacting with other elements on the page. 

Ad tech glossary



Header bidding is a type of programmatic auction in which bid requests are simultaneously sent to multiple demand partners in real-time—which means that every single ad impression has the chance to be purchased at its maximum value, based on available demand.

Header bidding requires a JavaScript code snippet to be added to the <head> section of the website. This JS code enables publishers to generate bid requests by using browser resources.


horizontal advertising appeals to a broader and more diverse range of customers. Because of this, the marketers are required to design a sophisticated cross-channel advertising campaign that ensures less wastage, budgeted cost, and widespread reach of their ad. 

Unlike vertical advertising, horizontal advertising strategy appeals to various markets and industries.

Ad tech glossary


In-App Advertising

In-app advertising is an effective marketing technique because it allows the advertisers to reach the target audience based on the app’s demographics. 

The best part about in-app advertising is that these ads are less distractive, non-disruptive, and best controlled managed. These ads are placed to add to the user experience without ‘cutting’ their engagement on the app. 

In-Banner Video Ads

In-banner video ads are short videos (with no sound) or GIFs embedded into a typical display (or banner) ad slot. These videos are usually HTML5 creatives designed from the thumbnail image and a text description of limited characters.

These ads deliver a dynamic ad viewing experience, and they can incorporate animated or interactive elements to increase engagement. 

IAB Standard Ads

An IAB standard ad size can be defined as an ad unit that is seen on most websites. Currently, three sizes are considered standard ads- Leaderboard (728×90), medium rectangle (300×250), and skyscraper (160×600). 

These ad units are used extensively in the ad tech industry and are considered the most profitable ad sizes.

Intelligent Tracking Prevention

Intelligent Tracking Prevention is a feature of Webkit, an open-source browser engine that powers Apple’s default browser – Safari. 

We’re all aware that Safari blocks third-party cookies by default. But what many people are not aware of is that sometimes first-party cookies can act as trackers. This is where the importance of ITP comes in with goal to prevent tracking


An impression is counted when an ad is served on a website- basically, this metric shows how often an ad is being shown. 

A unique impression is counted when an ad is served for the very first time in a span of 24 hours.

Ad tech glossary



MARTECH is the technologies and processes used for creating, managing and measuring all digital marketing activities.

MarTech started within the enterprise with CRM systems such as Salesforce that streamlined sales and marketing in an organization and built efficiencies at the bottom of the sales funnel.

mobile first design

In-banner video ads are short videos (with no Mobile first design is a strategy according to which a design or prototype should be first created for the smallest screen, i.e., mobiles and then for larger screens, such as tablets, laptops, and PCs. 

Mobile first design works by the principle of ‘progressive advancement’ as opposed to ‘graceful degradation’. 

mobile game ads

Mobile game ads are a game app monetising strategy that game developers have used to boost their revenue.

Looking at the success of mobile game ads, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, too, have brought in the in-app popular game ads for better user engagement and user experience.

Ad tech glossary



Native ads are a form of advertising that matches and blends in with the medium it appears on.

Ads use the same form as the content contained in the medium. For example, an ad can be a written article in the same format of editorial articles appearing in a magazine or on a website.

Ad tech glossary


OpenRTB is a framework for real-time bidding that sets the rules to conduct RTB. Real-time bidding is a complex process where publishers place their inventory in an open market, where multiple demand partners bid on the available inventory.

And finally, the highest bidder gets to place the ad on the ad unit.

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The automated sale and purchase of ad inventory. As soon as an impression is available, an auction is conducted (except in case of Programmatic Guaranteed where no auction is involved) and a buyer is determined.

Programmatic deals rely on complex auction algorithms and minimal human intervention. Programmatic makes use of OpenRTB Protocol and is transacted on an impression level.


Programmatic direct enables advertisers to get guaranteed ad impressions by displaying ads on the publisher’s premium web pages (home page or landing page). Both the parties sit together to agree on a fixed CPM and close the deal. 

For publishers, it’s a great opportunity to sell their premium inventory to only interested buyers.


Programmatic Advertising is the use of software instead of manual RFPs to purchase digital advertising.

In digital marketingprogrammatic marketing campaigns are automatically triggered by any type of event and deployed according to a set of rules applied by software and algorithms.

Ad tech glossary


Real-time bidding (RTB)

RTB is an impression-level auction happening in real-time (in the time between the user requesting a web page and the page load completion).

For all intents and purposes, this automated, instantaneous ad buying/selling is synonymous with programmatic, but it shouldn’t be.


Retargeting means re-engaging with users by showing them ads of products or services they previously checked on a website. The intent is to create recall value by showing relevant ads and turn website visitors into customers.

Typically, these ads follow users throughout the web, compelling them to take the purchase action.

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Supply-Side Platform?

A supply-side platform (SSP), also known as a sell-side platform, is a technology platform that enables web publishers to manage their ad inventory, fill it with ads, and receive ad revenue. That’s pretty much it.

Supply-side platform opens up the publisher’s ad inventory to multiple ad networks, ad exchanges, and DSPs simultaneously. This allows a huge number of potential buyers to bid and purchase ad space on a publisher’s website

Second-Party Data

Second-party data is essentially someone else’s first-party data that has been segmented, bundled, and sold in private data marketplace.

It is highly accurate as the publisher collects it directly from their website. Generally, marketers collect this data to improve a brand’s campaign performance.

Second-price auctions

In this model, the buyer pays $0.01 more than the second-highest bid made in the auction.

It is in the buyer’s interest to bid the highest possible value that they can, to maximise their chances of winning the bid.

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Third-party cookies don’t originate from the primary domain visited by the user. These cookies often result from the services publishers add to make their sites work better (like adding social buttons or chat services or others).

Google has officially delayed the deprecation of third-party cookies. The search engine will now support cookies till late 2023. 

Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG)

TAG was created by the coming together of four associations, namely, American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

It is a global initiative to fight criminal activity, increase trust and transparency in digital advertising. It is driven by a community of all participants in the supply chain. 


Understanding tag management must first start with understanding what a “tag” truly is. The tags we’re talking about are code snippets that are often placed between a website’s “<head></head>” tags.

If you’ve ever used a small snippet of coding to track visitors on your site, display ads or track conversions, you’ve used tags before.

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Video Ad Serving Template (vast)

In the simplest form, VAST is a script which empowers video players to run video ads in coordination with ad servers.

The purpose of VAST is to programme a video player such that it runs video ads (on different websites and devices viz. mobile, desktop, tablet) in the way publishers want.

vpaid (Video Player Ad Interface)

VPAID is also a script which allows video ad units to interact with video players. The first level difference between VAST and VPAID is VPAID empowers advertisers to serve rich media, interactive ads to users, which VAST doesn’t.

The good part is, VPAID allows advertisers to also record the data on how users are interacting with their video ads. 


A VAST error can occur due to a number of reasons and is reported back in case any issue takes place. Ideally, after the code is served for a video ad, the user should be served with that particular ad.

However, if the code served request leads to a VAST error, the issue is reported with a numerical code. 

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Waterfall setup, quite simply, works like this: A ladder of networks and/or exchanges, arranged top to bottom in order of performance to the publisher – based on the networks’ past record in terms of yield (eCPM), fill rate, latency, and more.

The impression(s) is passed from network to network, from the top-down, until it is sold.

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If you’re someone who flies and checks in hotels occasionally, you must have observed prices varying every hour. In case of cabs, you must have seen surge pricing. The reason for this dynamic pricing is to sell at best prices based on market demand. 

Similarly, yield management enables publishers to sell ad inventories by structuring a variable pricing strategy.

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