Online Advertising Glossary
Above The Fold - A banner must be placed near the top of the screen, so that they are visible without scrolling down. Sometimes it is specified as a within certain number of pixels from the top of the screen - e.g. 500. Most CPM networks require this. The term comes from newspapers, where important headlines are visible while the paper is still sitting folded in a rack.
Advertiser - The business which is link to via a banner or text link ad. They may have their own in-house affiliate program, or they may be one of many companies using an ad network.
Affiliate - A webmaster who signs up with a sponsor's Affiliate Program and places advertisements (banners and/or text links) on his/her site in order to earn commissions by sending surfers to the sponsor's site. Also called a "publisher."
Affiliate Manager - A person who manages an affiliate program. S/he may issue a newsletter, handle budgeting and setting of commission rates, and work with publishers and a network (if one is involved.)
Affiliate Program - A program whereby a Web site will pay webmasters to place advertisements on their own sites. Typically, sites which run affiliate programs are engaged in selling some type of product or service, and pay commissions based on a percentage of sales to surfers who arrived via a banner ad on an affiliate's site. Some sponsors run their own programs directly, and others outsource to networks which handle affiliate programs for many different sponsors.
Associate Program - Alternate name for an Affiliate Program.
Banner - Generally a horizontal rectangular graphic which contains a link to a sponsor's Web site. Banners are designed to get a surfer's attention by giving a quick, enticing idea of what the sponsor offers. Some are animated. Many banner graphics actually reside on the sponsor's server, and are called from there by HTML code in the pages where the banner is to appear. This enables sponsors to keep track of how the number of impressions. Other banner graphics must be placed on your own server space. The link contained in the banner code will contain a unique identifier so that the correct affiliate can be credited with any commissions generated via the banner. Banners can be any size, but are most often 468 x 90 pixels.
Banner Exchange - A system whereby publishers/webmasters show banner ads for other sites in exchange for having those other sites run banners for them. Check out our Guide To Banner Exchanges.
Button - Like a banner, but smaller. A common button size is 88x31 pixels, although 125x125 graphics are also sometimes called buttons.
Cheating - Various practices by webmasters to falsely inflate commissions. This commonly consists of signing up for a pay-per-click-through program, placing the banner on a site, and repeatedly clicking it (either manually or automatically via a script or refresh) Sponsors have various systems in place to catch this by looking for patterns such as a very high ratio of click-throughs to total views, or a very low conversion rate, or many clicks coming from the same IP address or range of IPs. Sponsors will refuse to pay anyone accused of cheating.
Click-Throughs - The number of surfers who click on an ad and are sent to the sponsor's site. Legitimate click-throughs are often measured as Unique Hits. Some advertising programs pay a small amount ($0.01 - $0.20) per click-through, although the number of these programs is being reduced by widespread cheating. This may also be expressed as a ratio of Click-Throughs to total Impressions.
Contextual Advertising - Also known as Contextual Links. 1. An ad network will read the text on your site, and will automatically change certain words into clickable links to sponsors. 2. An ad network will feed a banner-sized box of paid text links which are based on the regular text content of your site.
Conversion Rate or Conversion Ratio - For a Pay-Per-Lead program, this is the number of people who fill out a form requesting more information compared to the total number of people who clicked the banner and went to the sponsor's site. For a Pay-Sale-Program, it is the number of people who bought something out of the total number who clicked the banner. This is expressed as either a percentage rate (e.g. 2%), or as a ratio (e.g. 50:1.)
Cookie - A small piece of code which many sites send to visitor's computers, and may be used to identify them during that session, or on a subsequent visit. Cookies may be used for tracking of affiliate click-throughs.
CPC - Cost Per Click - A payment structure that pays webmasters a certain amount for each unique visitor that clicks an ad. This amount can range from 1¢ to around 20¢, usually at the lower end of that.
CPL - Cost Per Lead - A payment structure that pays publishers a certain amount per Lead (often just requiring the visitor to fill out a form, or sign up for a newsletter or free service, etc.)
CPM - Cost Per Mille - A payment structure that pays webmasters a certain amount for each one thousand impressions. The CPM may be expressed as a dollar amount. E.g. "The CPM is $2." Generally, for Networks that send one payment for a group of advertisers, the CPM will be pro-rated - e.g. showing 500 impressions of a particular advertiser's banners will earn half of the CPM amount.
CTR - Click-Through Ratio / Rate - The ratio / rate of visitors who click on an ad compared to the total number of times it was displayed. Can be expressed as a ratio (e.g. 50:1) or as a percentage rate (e.g. 2%.)
Cube - Sometimes used to refer to a 125x125 pixel banner ad.
Default Impression - When a CPM/CPC banner ad network doesn't have any ads to show, they may allow the publisher to call up another network's code. This is called a default impression.
Hits, Raw - The total number of visits to a site, or clicks on a particular ad, including repeats from the same surfers within a short period of time (e.g. the same day.)
Hits, Unique - The number of unique visitors (as determined by IP address) who visit a site or click on an ad.
Impressions - Each time a banner or text link ad is loaded into a surfer's browser constitutes an impression. When you place code on your page that calls the banner image from the sponsor's server, this allows them to count the impressions by the number of times the graphic is loaded. Some Text Links include a 1 x 1 pixel graphic, called a Tracking GIF, which serves this purpose without taking up at lot of space like a banner or button.
Insertion Order - A brief document specifying terms (number of impressions, CPM rate, etc.) for a campaign, particularly a targeted campaign. An IO may be in the form of an email, or, less commonly, a fax.
Inventory - The space that a webmaster is making available on his/her site for advertising. Expressed as Impressions per day/week/month.
IO or I/O - See "Insertion Order."
Landing Page - The page where a visitor will arrive when they click on a banner or text ad. This is usually at the advertiser's site. A good landing page will have a clear, simple flow leading to a sale, sign-up, etc.
Lead - A lead is generally counted if a surfer clicks on an ad to visit a sponsor, then fills out a form requesting information on a particular product or service, or singing up for some free or trial service. Some affiliate programs pay for each lead resulting from an ad on your site.
Leaderboard - A banner that is sized 768x90 pixels.
Network - A service which builds and administers affiliate programs, or CPC/CPM campaigns for numerous merchants, with centralized access for affiliates/publishers. Check out our Guide To Ad Networks.
Pay Per Action (PPA) - Occasionally used to mean CPA / Affiliate payment structure.
Performance Based - Usually means a CPA / Affiliate structure, for a particular network, or for marketing in general.
Publisher - A webmaster or web site owner who wishes to run ads for other companies (a.k.a. "Affiliate.")
Run Of Network - This term may be used by an advertising network to designate banners which are available to all of their member sites, and aren't targeted to any particular category. These will tend to pay less than targeted ads.
Skyscraper - A vertical banner which is usually sized 120x600.
Sponsor - A Web site offering an affiliate/advertising program which pays webmasters to display advertisements on their sites.
Spam - Advertisements in the form of either Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE) which are randomly mass-mailed to large numbers of recipients who did not request or consent to them, or off-topic and/or excessive posts to newsgroups and bulletin boards. Most affiliate program agreements prohibit spam, and affiliates may be terminated without payment for violating this rule.
Targeted Ads - Ads which are selected for relevance to the content of the sites on which they appear, and for the audiences of those sites. Since these are being shown to viewers who are already interested in the general topic, they tend to receive better response, and payment rates to the webmaster tend to be higher.
Tile - Sometimes used to refer to 125x125 banner graphics.
Tracking GIF - Often, an advertiser will include an "img src" tag in their HTML ad code which calls a 1x1 pixel GIF graphic from their server. This is used to count the impressions for text links, which is needed to calculate the click-through ratio/rate.
Trick-Through Banners - Deceptive banners designed to entice the visitor to click under dodgy pretenses. This includes fake Windows error boxes (including a fake "OK" button), along with fake email alert messages, "You Have Already Won," etc. The CTR may be high, but for really generating revenue, they must lead to either a very generic CPL landing page, or a blind-link CPC program.
Vertical - A narrow category of content, advertsing, or audience. For example, a vertical ad network might specialize in music-related publishers and advertsiers.