Ad Jargon 101

Image of an Billboard

I’ve been working on standing up a new ad stack for a site at work lately and wrote up a quick reference sheet to some of the terms I’ve been learning. I also presented these at our weekly tech-share meeting.

You can view the slides pdf, the repo, or see below for it fluffed out into a blog post.

Display Ad

An image based ad.

Search Ad

Text based ad.


A site or group of site which sell ad-space on their pages or in their content.

Advertiser / Bidder

A company wanting to purchase ad space from publishers.


A sell-able digital space in which ads can be shown. These are what Publishers sell.


An individual spot of inventory on the page where a single ad will go.

Usually has an associated size or set of sizes.

This is the smallest denomination of inventory.


A group of one or more slots, the major denomination of inventory.


The actual graphic for the display ad.


The desire to purchase ad inventory


The process of targeting ad content based on user data and context.


A creative being displayed on a single users page.


The measure of whether an impression constitutes a view.

At least 50% visible on the screen for a minimum of 2 seconds


The practice of loading a new creative in a slot after a period of time while a user browses a single page.

Cost per Thousand (CPM)

The cost paid (or bid) by an advertiser for 1000 Impressions

Ad tag

A specific script usually provided by an advertiser to place on your page.

Usually a direct deal between advertiser and publisher

Skips your conventional ad server.

Ad Server

Server responsible for serving creatives to the client, including making the decision of which creative to serve to maximize revenue.



A marketplace where advertisers and publishers buy and sell ad inventory.


Header Bidding

Running auctions for inventory from the client before sending inventory to your main ad server to be filled.

Allows additional targeting specifications on the bidder level.

Header Bidding: Prebid (OSS)

Transparent Ad Marketplace

Exhange Bidding

Google’s server based bidding platform, available in GAM

Counter to Header Bidding but can work in concert.

Over the Page (OTP)

Large ads which pop-up within the page (not a new window).

Surprisingly profitable

Usually served directly using a tag.

Google Publisher Tags (GPT)

Googles library for interacting with GAM/DFP