Media Dictionary

Ad network:

In internet marketing, this term means a broker or infomediary who helps an advertiser place online ads across hundreds or thousands of web sites. An “ad network” might have relationships with 100 sites such as, and, allowing a marketer to place ads across this entire spectrum with one media contact. This approach is often combined with Behavioral Targeting, in which ads appear across the network of sites only to users who fit a demographic profile.

Advertising weight:

A measure of the total impact of advertising using metrics such as the number of commercials, homes researched, target audience impressions and Gross Rating Points.


An international media and market research company serving radio broadcasters, radio networks, cable companies and advertising agencies. Arbitron is best known for providing radio ratings in the U.S. It also, via partnership with Nielsen, provides other research to broadcast television, cable, radio, out-of-home and online industries.


Proof of advertising performance, typically a notarized copy of the bill or written statement from the end media outlet documenting the advertising that was delivered.

Affiliate Marketing:

In online advertising, an approach where advertisers place ads with many online publishers and only pay the publisher if traffic and a desired result are achieved, such as a completed sale or sign-up.


The persons or homes exposed to a media vehicle.

Audience Deficiency Unit (ADU):

Inventory provided by a TV station or network in order to meet an audience delivery guarantee.


An electronic device used by ACNielsen to monitor TV viewing habits among a survey population minute by minute.

Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC):

An auditing organization that provides circulation, readership and market data on more than 1,000 publications in the United States and Canada.


The graphical representation of a person online.

Average Frequency:

The number of times a person sees or hears an ad within a specific period of time.

Average Quarter Hour (AQH) Persons:

In radio advertising, the estimated average number of persons who listen to a radio station for at least five minutes during a 15-minute period.

Average Quarter Hour (AQH) Rating:

The percentage of a population who listens for at least five minutes within a 15-minute period. A radio station with a 1.0 AQH rating would reach 1% of the audience in its market every quarter hour.

Average Quarter Hour Share:

The percentage of the average quarter hour persons for a station vs. the total radio listeners in a geographic region.

Backlit units:

In outdoor advertising, ad structures illuminated from the inside or backside at night.

Backmatching / List Match Back:

A measurement system used in direct marketing where the list of people reached by a media is compared to the list of respondents. For example, if a direct mailing reached 10,000 homes and 500 people on the list responded, comparing the list of people reached vs. the list of people who responded would find with some accuracy that the campaign had a 5% response rate. Backmatching is useful in tracking unique people through the entire marketing and sales funnel from impression to response to lead to sale as a new customer.

Banner Advertising:

In online advertising, the use of different-shaped graphics placed on a web page to advertise a product or service. When users click on the banner ad, the image may expand, play a video, or take the user to a desired web page.

Behavioral Targeting:

In online advertising, the placement of banner ads that run over a network of hundreds or thousands of web sites, so that the ads only appear to users who fit a specific demographic profile or behavior. For example, banner ads for financial service products could be shown only to web users who have previously read articles on saving for retirement. See Retargeting.

Billboard (aka Outdoor or Out-of Home):

A large format outdoor display designed for viewing from more than 50 feet away. Billboards have several sub-terms based on size: Bulletins, the largest formats typically 14′ high by 48′ wide; Eight-Sheet Posters, smaller outdoor panels typically 6′ high and 12′ wide; and 30-Sheet Posters, outdoor panels typically 9’6″ high and 21’7″ wide. Bulletins are typically located off of major highways and posters are usually found on secondary roads in more suburban communities.


Advertising creative where the photo or image “bleeds” off the page, and is cropped, giving the illusion the image runs to the edge of the advertisement.


A form of web site that is easily edited and where entries are posted in chronological order with the most recent essay at the top. Blogs were formerly called weblogs and evolved from online journals in the 1990s. By 2007 there were more than 110 million blogs worldwide and the format began to merge with traditional media, as bloggers became more skilled, some hired staff, and many began breaking “real news.”


Slang for the concept of millions of blogs, or personal web pages, on the internet. The “blogosphere” does not exist, it is merely a concept of all the blogs on the internet.

Bounce rate:

A term for the number of online users who reach a web page and immediately leave the page without clicking further into the site. Bounce rate is an indicator of the lack of relevance of a web site; for example, a web site with a 90% bounce rate would have 9 out of 10 users leaving after seeing the first web page.


The name, term, symbol or design that sets a product or service apart from other competitors. In a broader definition, brand symbolizes the customer’s perception of and experience with the product or service. In marketing, brands emerged in the 19th century as packaged goods companies such as Kellogg’s sought to convince consumers they could trust a product that was not made locally.

Brand Extension:

The strategy of expanding a brand known for one type of product to a new product category; for example, the extension of the Mars candy brand to ice cream, or Swiss Army from pocket knives to watches.


The largest format of outdoor billboards, typically 14 feet high by 48 feet wide.

Bus Panel:

In outdoor advertising, ad units attached to the inside or outside of a public bus.

Bus Shelter / Transit Shelter Panel:

In outdoor advertising, a standard backlit ad panel built into freestanding structures at bus stops.


An advertising or direct mail program in market during a given period of time, typically with numerous media components. See Flight.

Car Cards / Train Cards:

In outdoor advertising, displays of various sizes posted inside buses, subways and commuter trains.

Channel capacity:

In cable television, the number of channels available for current or future use within a cable system.


Physical inspection of a market to ensure advertising delivery meets expectations.


New customers minus lost customers. Churn is typically measured if a company or organization faces overall losses in its customer base, for example, gaining 10% new customers per year and losing 30% of current customers per year for a net loss of -20% of its total customers. Churn is common in industries with subscription models and numerous competitors, such as cell phone service or home heating oil delivery.


The number of copies of a magazine or newspaper produced and distributed. Circulation includes all manners of distribution, such as subscriptions, newsstand sales, etc. See Readership.

Click Fraud:

The fraudulent practice of clicking on competitor ads to drive up their costs for advertising.

Click-Through Rate (CTR):

The percent of users who receive an online ad impression who click on (or click through) the ad. CTR is calculated as clicks divided by impressions.

Close Rate:

In marketing and sales, the percent of leads or inquiries that convert to purchasing the service of product. If a sales manager has 100 leads and signs up 30 new customers, she has a close rate of 30%.

Collaborative Filtering:

An approach for making automatic predictions (“filtering”) for a user by collecting information from many other users (“collaborating”). Examples include book, music or video recommendations that appear on web sites such as and This approach is based on the idea that people who agree in the past tend to agree in the future. For example, if a consumer has rented drama films A, B, and C, and similar users had rented drama films A, B, C and D, the film “D” might be recommended to the consumer as the next suggested film rental.

Competitive Strategy:

An approach developed by Michael Porter in which a business has three options for achieving a “competitive advantage”: Cost leadership, differentiation, or focus. This model was expanded by other business writers to create a triad of competitive positions, in which a business should focus on either (a) being the most efficient or lowest-cost provider (e.g. Wal-Mart), (b) being the most customer service-oriented firm that provides a wide range of customized solutions (e.g. Charles Schwab financial advisors), or (c) focusing on leadership and innovation in a product category (e.g. Intel computer chips). Competing companies in the same industry can take different competitive strategies; for example, Apple is a product innovator while Microsoft provides a broader range of customer service solutions.


The demographic description of an audience.

Contextual Advertising:

In online advertising, the display of ads with graphics or text that match either keywords (search phrases) typed in by the site user or the content of the web site page. For example, a reader of a web site page that contains news about financial planning might be served a banner ad for a financial planning service.

Conversion Rate:

In online advertising, the percent of users who reach a transaction page and then complete the transaction. If 1 out of 20 users who visit an e-commerce site complete a transaction, the site has a conversion rate of 5%.

Cost Per Action (CPA):

An online advertising payment model where the advertiser pays only after a user completes a desired action, such as a purchase or completing a lead form.

Cost Per Click (CPC):

An online advertising payment model where the advertiser pays each time a user clicks on the ad.

Cost Per Point (CPP):

The cost of making an impression on 1 percent of the total population (the cost of 1 GRP).

Cost per Thousand (CPM):

The cost to make 1,000 impressions on the target audience. The acronym originally stood for Cost Per Mille, hence “CPM.” (In online advertising, CPM is a payment model in which advertisers pay a fixed rate per 1,000 online ad impressions.)


The number of different people or homes reached.

Coverage Area:

In cable television, the geographic area in which the cable system runs commercials.


In the advertising industry, “creative” refers to the design of branding, messaging, layout, graphics, photos, video, scripts, copy, and the production and post-production required to finalize the advertisement image and sound. Creative does not include the planning of media outlets, forecasting of media impressions, or execution of placing orders into media vehicles. See Media Planning / Media Buying.

Cume Persons:

The total number of different persons who tune in to a radio station for at least five minutes in a given period of time (often quarter hour or weekly).

Cume Rating:

The percentage of Cume Persons who tune in to a radio station for at least five minutes in a given period of time (often quarter hour or weekly).

Cut-Outs / Extensions:

In outdoor advertising, a temporary addition to the billboard structure that can include letters, graphics, etc., designed to capture greater viewer attention.

Daily Effective Circulation (DEC) / Daily Impressions:

In outdoor advertising, the average number of persons ages 18+ exposed to an outdoor billboard in a 12-hour period (if not illuminated) or an 18-hour period (if illuminated).


A media buying approach used in television and radio to allocate ads to certain sections of the day. In television these are early morning (6-9 a.m.), daytime (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.), early fringe (3:30-5:30 p.m.), early news (5:30-7 p.m.), prime access (7-8 p.m.), prime (8-11 p.m.), late news (11-11:30 p.m.), late fringe (11:30 p.m.-1 a.m.), and late night (1-6 a.m.)

Designated Market Area (DMA):

A discrete geographic area used for television targeting which includes a set of U.S. counties exclusive of others. Each county in the United States is assigned to one DMA; there are 210 DMAs in total.


A daily record used by survey respondents to track media ratings.

Direct Marketing:

A type of marketing in which (a) marketers contact consumers directly via targeting, without using intermediary media such as television, radio or print, and (b) marketers provide a direct response mechanism such as a phone number. Examples of direct marketing include telemarketing, direct mail, and email.

Direct Response Television (DRTV):

Television advertising time inventory purchased with the intent of getting an immediate response (such as via an 800 number with a call to action). DRTV broadcast and cable times are typically sold at a discount based on unused inventory, and the spots may be pre-empted by other paid advertising. There are two forms of DRTV, long form (or informercials) with commercials longer than 2 minutes, and short form with commercials shorter than 2 minutes. The objective is to have the consumer contact the advertiser directly to purchase the product or service.

Do Not Call List (DNC):

The National Do Not Call Registry is managed by the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers from unwanted telephone solicitations. Consumers who opt in to the program at may register their home or mobile phone number, and within 30 days the phone number goes on a list of numbers excluded from telemarketing in the United States. Marketers in the United States are required to continuously update their direct marketing lists against the DNC lists and suppress DNC phone numbers from outbound solicitations, or face significant fines. Some exceptions apply, such as the ability of nonprofit organizations, political organizations, or companies with current customers to contact people via telephone.


The number of people in one media’s audience who are also exposed to another form of media.

Effective Sample Base (ESB):

The size of a random sample required to produce the same degree of reliability as a complex survey such as Arbitron’s.

Eight-Sheet Posters:

Smaller outdoor panels typically 6′ high and 12′ wide. See Billboard.


Web-based transmission of text messages or attachments.

Email Harvesting:

An approach in email marketing where an address collector uses a robot program to scour the internet and collect exposed email addresses. Addresses are then resold to organizations who seek to send mass emails. The practice led to the rise of “spam,” or junk email, has been discredited, and is illegal in many U.S. states under anti-spam laws.

Extensions / Cut-Outs:

In outdoor advertising, a temporary addition to the billboard structure that can include letters, graphics, etc., designed to capture greater viewer attention.

Eyetracking Heatmap:

Survey approach in which users’ eyes are tracked to follow their paths when viewing creative, such as a web site design. For example, heatmaps of users viewing Google search results found that people tend to read web pages by starting at top left, moving directly down, and then moving to the right.

Five Forces Model:

A structural model for competition developed by Michael Porter. In this model, five forces determine industry profitability: (a) buyers, (b) suppliers, (c) potential entrants, (d) substitutes, and (e) industry competitors. The model is useful in marketing strategy to evaluate the broader landscape of competitive forces beyond just sellers, competitors and buyers; for example, substitutes are a significant risk in marketing models that involve communications media or information technology. MP3s are one example of a substitute that is now threatening the radio industry.


In advertising, flight is the period of time in which a portion of a marketing campaign is active in the market. For example, a series of print ads that ran over two months could be said to be an 8-week flight. The broader marketing campaign might have four “flights” over the entire 12-month period. See Campaign.

Free Standing Insert (FSI):

In print advertising, the use of materials inserted but not bound to the publication. Examples include coupons, mailers, or single-sheet advertisements.


The average number of times an accumulated audience sees or hears an ad within a specific period of time.

Frequency distribution:

The number of people or homes exposed to a schedule, in order of the number of times exposed (1 to N).


In online advertising, an approach to target banner, video or text ads so they appear only on web sites within a given geographic area. Geo-targeting can improve online ad relevance and in many cases can reduce online advertising costs.

Gross Rating Points (GRPs):

The percent of the population exposed to an ad impression, calculated as Reach x Frequency. GRPs are commonly used in broadcast as a yardstick to measure the overall weight of a campaign during a given time period, for example, targeting 100 GRPs per week on radio. Note: GRPs do not account for duplication in measurement, so a schedule of 100 GRPs might mean 100% of the population was exposed to the ads 1 time on average, or 1% of the population was exposed to the ads 100 times.

Guerilla Marketing / Guerrilla Marketing:

Term for alternative or non-traditional marketing that combines elements of street visibility, Viral Marketing, and public relations. Examples include street teams of brand advocates handing out information; portable, temporary outdoor projection billboards; use of graffiti or removable street art; and staging of high-profile public events.

Hard Bounce:

The term for an email sent to an address being returned without reaching the recipient. The email typically returns with the note “user unknown” or “host unknown” and signifies an incorrect recipient email address.

Homes Passed:

In cable television, the number of homes in which cable can be easily made available because the cable service provider’s network passes those homes.

Homes Using TV (HUT):

The percent homes watching TV for five minutes or more during a quarter-hour period.


Hypertext Markup Language, the predominant “markup language” used to create web pages or graphics-rich emails. A Markup Language provides a way to combine text and extra information about it, such as which words in the text are bold or how accompanying photos fit next to the text.


Number of individual exposures to a media vehicle. For example, in online advertising, an impression is one view of one page by one user.

In-home Readers:

People who read a copy of a print publication in their home. See Out-of-home Readers.


Gas-filled, three-dimensional displays used at special events or point-of-sale displays.


The global collection of interconnected computer networks. It differs from the World Wide Web in that the internet is infrastructure (copper wires and fiber-optic cables) while the Web is a collection of documents and other resources. The internet provides services other than the World Wide Web such as email and file sharing.

IP Address:

A unique number assigned to each device connected to the internet.

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In marketing and sales, a lead is an identified prospective customer who has responded to a marketing message but not yet been sold the product or service.

Lifetime Value:

A term used to evaluate the long-term financial value of a customer, typically the future stream of revenues or profits derived from a customer over the “lifetime” of his or her relationship with a company. Lifetime value is often expressed in current value, or net present value, based on reducing future year’s profits by a discount rate to account for inflation or the opportunity cost of investing today’s money elsewhere. For example, $100,000 in profit generated by a customer in year 5 may only be worth $90,000 in today’s dollars. Lifetime value is useful in advertising to compare the real future value of a new customer vs. the advertising cost to establish the initial customer relationship.

Local Pod:

In cable television, a break within normal programming that allows a local cable system to insert local commercials.


Unpaid inventory provided by a media vendor as compensation for problems arising in a paid schedule. These problems can consist of missed spots or insertions, poor ad reproduction, or scheduling and placement issues.


An unethical online advertising approach in which an external application alters the settings on a user’s computer and attempts to direct the computer to specific web sites, or to deliver intrusive ads such as pop-up windows, or to monitor the computer user’s behavior. These applications are typically difficult to remove and slow the computer’s performance. Also known as Spyware.


In its broadest definition, marketing is the management of supply and demand: the analysis of customer needs, the development of corresponding products or services to meet those needs, and the management of communication, financial value, and product distribution flowing between producer and consumer. In other definitions, marketing is seen as limited to the creative aspects of advertising, distribution and selling. Key areas of marketing specialty include advertising, branding, direct marketing, public relations, research, strategic management, database marketing, and search engine marketing.

Marketing Mix:

A concept developed in the 1960s that seeks to optimize marketing and sales by managing four variables: Product, pricing, promotion, and placement (or distribution). This “four Ps” model is most useful when dealing with product-focused sales of low-value consumer goods. The model has inadequacies with more complex models such as business-to-business sales, industries with complex demand chains (such as healthcare, where there is a long, complex series of suppliers, producers, referrals, providers, specialist providers, decision-makers, and end customers), and service industries. For example, the “four Ps” model seeks to focus on sales within a short timeframe, where a service industry might need to focus instead on the broader customer relationships that lead to high customer Lifetime Value.

Markup Language:

Code that provides a way to combine text and extra information about it, such as which words in the text are bold or how accompanying photos fit next to the text. HTML, used to structure most web pages, is a Markup Language.


In advertising, media refers to the various media channels used to deliver a communications message. Examples of media include billboards (known as outdoor or out-of-home in the industry), radio, broadcast TV, cable networks, magazines, newspapers, internet advertising, guerilla marketing, events, and search engine marketing.

Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI):

A research organization providing media planners with in-depth surveys of 26,000+ U.S. residents’ demographics, product usage, media usage, and media behavior. MRI research is one of the benchmark tools for effective media planning, allowing media planners to evaluate how each subset of a demographic population prefers to consume media vs. the national average.

Media mix:

The combination of different media channels into an integrated marketing campaign.

Media Planning / Media Buying:

The research, planning, and negotiations required to implement advertising. Media planning is the service of researching target customers and media outlets, and then developing plans showing how ads are staged in each media channel over time for maximum impact. Media buying is the service of executing the plan, including negotiating rates with media outlets, submitting orders, finalizing schedules, trafficking advertising mechanicals, ensuring quality control, and developing post-buy reports. See Creative.

Metro Survey Area (Metro):

A geographic area used for radio targeting which includes the primary reporting area for radio stations.

Metro Totals:

Total reported listening to radio in the Metro Survey Area or DMA, which includes all types of radio stations in that area.

MIMI (Multi-Purpose internet Mail Extensions):

An approach in email marketing where both HTML and text formats are sent to an email list, and the server sends the appropriate format based on the type of email the recipient is able to receive.

Mobile Billboards:

Outdoor displays typically attached to trucks and viewed from locations on the road.

Mobile Marketing:

Term for marketing to consumers via cell phones. Mobile marketing became popular in Europe and Asia in the early 2000s and in the mid-2000s began expanding in the United States. A common form of mobile marketing is SMS, or Short Message Service.


An FCC requirement that cable systems must carry all local broadcast television signals in their markets.


In cable television, programming designed to reach a narrow demographic target.

Net Combined Audience:

A new readership metric launched by print publishers in the mid-2000s that includes (a) circulation or actual printed copies of the media, (b) pass-along readership, and (c) unique web visitors. The concept drew criticism from some media planners who perceive this as an attempt by U.S. publishers to mask declines in print circulations.

Net Media vs. Gross Media:

The costs of advertising, or advertising rates, are typically listed in two formats: gross media and net media. Net media is calculated as 85% of gross media. Thus an ad with a gross media rate (cost) of $10,000 has a net media rate (cost) of $8,500. The difference in advertising rates typically goes to accredited advertising agencies as the standard 15% agency commission for media planning, buying, and trafficking services.

Newspaper Ad Formats:

Newspaper advertising can be run in numerous formats. Common types include display advertising (large ads typically with graphics that run across one or more columns next to editorial content); classifieds; Free Standing Inserts or FSI; Sticky Notes attached to section fronts; poly-bags that include samples or inserts; and other custom products.

Newspaper Ad Pricing:

Pricing for newspaper ads is based on several common formats, including PCI (Per Column Inch), or the number of columns wide multiplied by the number of inches high multiplied by the cost per column inch; CPM (Cost Per Thousand), or the cost per each 1,000 impressions; and Classified (Agate Lines), or the number of columns multiplied by the number of lines multiplied by the rate.

Newspaper Rate Categories:

Pricing for newspaper ads varies according to different rate categories. Rate categories are tied to the type of business the advertiser is, and also may factor in the section of the newspaper where the ad will appear. Common rate categories include National/General, Retail/Local, Classified, Financial, In State, Entertainment, Travel, Co-op, Special Industry and Real Estate.

One to One Marketing (1to1 Marketing or 1:1 Marketing):

A marketing concept popularized by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in the early 1990s in which companies sought to treat different customers differently and thereby increase sales and profits. The core strategy inverted classical mass marketing by seeking share of customer, not market share, via a four-step process: Identifying individual customers; differentiating customers based on their unique needs from you and their financial value to you; interacting with customers with two-way communication and feedback; and customizing service response. This methodology sought to create unique switching costs in which customers would find it more convenient to do business with you than with competitors. The concept became very popular in the initial internet bubble of the late 1990s, as businesses began to build sophisticated customer databases and realized they could market and sell directly to consumers via the internet instead of through traditional distribution channels. One to One Marketing faded in popularity later as databases, web sites, and customer interactivity became standard features of marketing systems.

Open Rate:

In email marketing, the percentage of recipients who open the email message.


A marketing approach in which the user is allowed to say “yes” before participating in the communication.


A marketing approach in which the user must say “no” before being excluded from the communication.

Out of Home:

Another term for outdoor or billboard advertising.

Out-of-home Readers:

People who read a copy of a print publication outside their home. See In-home Readers.

Pass-Along Readership / Readership:

The estimated number of true readers of a print publication, usually more than the circulation (actual printed copies). “Readership” is a controversial topic, and some media critics charge is readership is a fictional number used by publishers to inflate their circulation. For example, a newspaper with a 100,000 circulation (actual printed copies) might claim each copy is passed to new readers on average 2.1 times, for a total “readership” of 210,000.

Pay Per Click (PPC):

An internet advertising model where advertisers pay each time the ad is clicked on. See CPC (Cost Per Click).

People Using TV (PUT):

The percent of people in a target audience watching TV for five minutes or more during a quarter-hour period.


A form of online identify theft in which scammers send out fake emails attempting to trick recipients into disclosing personal information such as Social Security or credit card numbers. For example, the scam might send out an email appearing to come from a reputable bank “notifying” the recipient that they need to update their password and also retype personal information. The recipient would be directed to a fake web site that appears to be the actual bank web site. Once personal information is obtained, the scammers typically would then steal funds from the victim’s bank or credit card accounts.


In television advertising, a pod is a timeslot for a group of commercials between programming.


A blog format which uses audio clips. A user creates an audio clip, posts it online, and puts it somewhere where other users can download and hear it. The term began falling out of favor in 2006-2007 as online audio and particularly online video became more prevalent.

Portable People Meter (PPM):

An electronic measurement device developed by Arbitron in 2006-2007 to improve the accuracy of radio ratings. The device is small enough to be carried by survey participants and picks up an inaudible signal from radio stations to record the exact stations users in a research population are listening to; it was to replace the old Arbitron diary system of radio ratings in 2008 and 2009 in major U.S. markets. The PPM system sparked controversy upon launch because it determined that radio ratings were lower than previously thought, especially among younger demographic populations; the early rollout of the system generated protests from Clear Channel and other major radio networks who questioned whether the survey structure was valid.


A marketing strategy popularized by Al Ries and Jack Trout in the early 1970s in which marketers seek to capture a “position” in consumers’ minds relative to other brand positions. Ries and Trout’s concept was simple: In each product category, consumers rank options in a mental “ladder,” and marketers should strive to achieve one of the top rungs of the ladder by creating a fresh position vs. their competitors. Classic examples of this strategy include the Coke vs. Pepsi “cola wars” of the 1980s and Wendy’s attack of McDonald’s and Burger King with the “Where’s the Beef?” ads. In each of these examples, one brand tries to make itself more appealing by comparing it uniquely to the competitor brands.

Posting Cycle:

The length the entire outdoor campaign, usually measured in weeks.

Posting Date:

The date on which outdoor promotions begin their display.

Posting Period:

The length of time one outdoor panel is displayed, usually measured in 4-week or 30-day increments.

Public Access:

In cable television, non-commercial channels set aside for use by the public.

Quintile Analysis:

An analysis of media usage by dividing a group of people into five subgroups of equal number. Tiers can then be compared to averages. For example, the top fifth of senior citizens in the United States tend to watch television more frequently than the top fifth of the entire U.S. population.

Rate base:

The guaranteed average issue circulation of a print publication, which is used to set the advertising rates.


The percentage of a specific population group exposed to a single issue or broadcast. A cable TV show with 2 rating points thus reaches 2 percent of the population. A TV show with a rating of 2 for women 18-34 would reach 2% of all women 18-34 in the geographic area serving that program. See Cume Rating.


The number of different people or homes exposed at least once to an advertising message.

Reach & Frequency (R&F):

These combined terms refer to the size and repeat exposure of an audience to an ad message.

Readership / Pass-Along Readership:

The estimated number of true readers of a print publication, usually more than the circulation (actual printed copies). “Readership” is a controversial topic, and some media critics charge is readership is a fictional number used by publishers to inflate their circulation. For example, a newspaper with a 100,000 circulation (actual printed copies) might claim each copy is passed to new readers on average 2.1 times, for a total “readership” of 210,000. See Readers Per Copy.

Readers Per Copy:

The number of different people who read each publication issue.


Sampled persons who provide information in response to survey questions.

Response Rates:

In direct marketing, the percent of contacts that generate a response. If a mailing of 100,000 pieces generated 2,000 phone calls, it would equal a 2% response rate.


In online advertising, the approach of “chasing” a consumer who visited one web site with a series of banner ads that may escalate in offer across a network of other sites. For example, John Smith might visit and consider a new leather jacket, but leave the site just before the point of sale. The leather coat company could serve up a series of new ads for leather coats to John Smith whenever he visited a network of related web sites; each ad could escalate in offer, with the objective of luring John Smith back to the original e-commerce site to complete the transaction.

Rich Media:

Term for online advertising formats that use graphics, color, images, animation or video to grab attention. Common formats include banner ads, with graphics in standard sizes that are often horizontal or vertical rectangles; interstitial ads, where a large ad format appears before the requested content appears; expanding ads, which change size as the user scrolls over them; pop-up ads, in which a new window appears over the prior web window; pop-under ads, in which a new window appears underneath the current web window; trick banners, in which animation within the banner ad simulates an error message or alert; and mobile ads, in which multi-media messages are sent to a cell phone.

ROI (Return on Investment):

The ratio of money gained or lost on an investment relative to the initial amount invested. Return on investment can be calculated as ROI=(Vf value of final investment – Vi value of initial investment) divided by the Vi initial investment. An advertising campaign that cost $1 million in total and generated $1.2 million would have an ROI of 20%.

Run of Schedule (R.O.S.):

A low-cost way to buy broadcast time on TV or radio in which ads are dispersed across all dayparts; the negative side of this approach is some ads will not appear during desired time slots such as prime time.

Sample Target:

For Arbitron radio ratings, the in-tab diary sample size for a given survey area.

Scarborough Research:

A research organization measuring lifestyles, shopping patterns, media behaviors, and demographics of U.S. consumers.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM):

Paid text ads that appear on search engines such as Google and Yahoo!; these ads typically include 3 lines of text and when clicked on take the web user to the advertised web site.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

The practice of structuring a web site and links to it to increase the web site’s ranking on search engine results pages, such as Google search results. SEO typically involves two strategies: (a) making the page more relevant by adding content germane to the search results, and (b) creating a network of links from other web sites back to the original site. SEO is difficult and is controversial; some agencies offer to provide SEO services that may be questionable and can result in a web site being blacklisted by Google. Some SEO experts advise clients to avoid trying to “game” the search system and instead simply to build web sites with relevant content. If relevancy rises, so will the page rankings in search results.


In information technology, a service is a device that performs services for connected clients such as the transmission of data. The internet is based on a client-server model, in which web pages are “served” by information storage devices running constantly around the world.


The percentage of the TV viewing audience watching a specific program or station.

Simmons Market Research Bureau:

A research organization monitoring more than 8,000 brands in 460 product categories with more than 600 lifestyle characteristics.


The simultaneous broadcast of one station’s total broadcast by a second station, with the exception that the two stations may air different commercials or public service announcements during breaks.

Social Media:

A broad term for media channels that enable individuals to participate in Social Networks. Examples include web sites that create a platform for individuals to manage social networks (such as Facebook); applications within such sites that enable communication among the nodes of the network (such as Facebook’s widgets); or other media channels that allow users to communicate with networks of contacts via cell phone or other input devices (such as Twitter). Social media, in definition, is media that enables users to communicate with a discrete peer network and maintain some level of personal control.

Social Network:

A group of individuals where each person acts as a node within a broader network, typically linked by some common interest such as values, relations, finances, etc. The term social networks became popular in the mid-2000s with the rise of web sites that replicated groups of social interests and gave users control over which network they could participate in; examples included Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook.

Social Tagging:

Attaching short, descriptive keywords to an online piece of content, such as a blog posting or photograph. The keyword “tag” allows users to search for information later by finding all content listed under that tag.

Some Rights Reserved:

A property rights tag developed by Creative Commons that provides flexibility in sharing content, as an alternative to “All Rights Reserved.” The intent is to also allow users to share the content with others as long as they provide attribution of the source. The creator of the content may benefit from this approach in that his or her content may reach many more people than otherwise would be allowed in standard publishing formats, where republishing rights are restricted.


Unsolicited bulk email.

Spot Cable:

Commercials placed on local cable systems by national or regional advertisers who typically advertise in multiple markets.


An unethical online advertising approach in which an external application alters the settings on a user’s computer and attempts to direct the computer to specific web sites, or to deliver intrusive ads such as pop-up windows, or to monitor the computer user’s behavior. These applications are typically difficult to remove and slow the computer’s performance. Also known as Malware.


A provider of media cost forecasting, allowing media planners to developed detailed spending forecasts in broadcast in the top 210 television markets and 287 radio markets.

30-Sheet Posters:

Outdoor panels typically 9’6″ high and 21’7″ wide. See Billboard.

Target Audience Rating Point (TARP):

A term for rating that applies to a specific demographic audience, such as women ages 18-24.

Time Spent Listening (TSL):

The estimated average time a listener spent with a radio station during a daypart.

Total Rating Points (TRP):

The total percent of the population exposed to an ad impression, calculated as Reach x Frequency. Also known as Gross Rating Points (GRP). In outdoor advertising, TRPs refer to daily circulation over a week. One rating point equals 1% of the market population.

Total Survey Area (TSA):

A geography area that includes the Metro Survey Area and may include additional counties or land areas.


A distinctive sign to mark the source of a product or service, and a form of intellectual property.

Train Cards / Car Cards:

In outdoor advertising, displays of various sizes posted inside buses, subways and commuter trains.

Transit Shelter / Bus Shelter panel:

In outdoor advertising, a standard backlit ad panel built into freestanding structures at bus stops.

Unique 800 numbers:

A measurement approach in which a block, or series, of unique 800 numbers is acquired for use in different advertisement copy. All the numbers can be redirected to one answering phone number. Marketers can then pull reports from the phone service provider to track the unique calls coming in to each 800 number, as well as the originating number of the phone caller. This allows different ad media to be compared accurately based on a cost per inquiry.


A flexible, strong printing material that can be used in billboard production, allowing the advertising image to be rotated from one billboard location to another without reprinting the entire board.

Viral Marketing:

A marketing approach where marketers seek to use pre-existing social networks to broadcast their message, in a self-replicating process similar to a flu virus spreading across the population. Examples include the rise of the Razor Scooter in the late 1990s, which appeared almost overnight as a “fad” until every child in the U.S. seemed to have one. Viral marketing differs from Word of Mouth in that it can reach exponentially millions of people if successful, where word of mouth typically reaches a few contacts before diminishing.

Web 2.0:

A term describing one of three new trends in internet communications in the 2001-2010 decade, including (a) the migration of software interfaces from PCs into web browser windows, such as Google Maps, (b) the emergence of online social networks in which single users can easily communicate to peers and control what they send and receive, such as in Facebook, or (c) a design motif of the mid-2000s that used pastel colors and rounded corners, primarily in web-based creative.


A portable, small Web program that provides functionality similar to that of a software program. Widgets became popular with the release of the new Apple OSX operating system in the early 2000s, which included small, graphically intensive windows showing mini-web feeds for weather, stock reports, and airline schedules. Widgets expanded into social networks such as Facebook, and created the opportunity for marketers to “go viral” with a small application such as a Scrabble game variation that could be passed among millions of users. Widgets represent the movement of software off of the desktop or laptop PC into the internet, and create many opportunities for interactive programs in which users can input information, manipulate results, and pass the interactive tool into their network of friends or colleagues.

Word of Mouth:

A marketing approach where marketers seek to engage customers in spreading word of their product or service to other customers. Word of mouth differs from Viral Marketing in that it tends to dissipate after a few contacts, where viral marketing can reach exponentially thousands or millions of people if successful.

World Wide Web (Web):

The system of interlinked documents, video and resources made available via the internet collection of computer networks.

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