Digital Advertising
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Digital Advertising 101 – A Web Advertising Glossary

I started writing this glossary for a client presentation and realized it would be valuable for my Camosun College Web and Social Media Meetup presentation, so I’ve taken the step of posting it here!

Feel free to contact me with any feedback!

Web Advertising Glossary

SEM – Search Engine Marketing. This includes all types of marketing that boosts your presence in Google Search Results:


SEO – Search Engine Optimization. SEO encompasses technical optimization, content optimization and ongoing linking and engagement efforts which boost your prominence in Google search results. SEO includes all the elements on the search results page other than the paid ads.

Note that contrary to popular belief, your SEO status does not affect your Google Adwords status nor vice versa!

Mobile Traffic. This is traffic to your site coming through tablets and phones. While this used to represent a very small percentage of traffic, Google now records more “mobile” searches than desktop and we have certain clients where mobile traffic exceeds desktop:


Search Advertising. Sponsored search listings on the Google and Bing.

PPC (Pay Per Click) Advertising. This refers to advertising where you are only billed when someone clicks on your ad. In general, this method of advertising is the most effective for entrepreneurial companies who want to drive the maximum number of measureable actions from their efforts (site visits, phone calls, bookings, downloads, etc).

NOTE: It’s worth noting that your costs in PPC are affected dramatically by how well your PPC ads are set up and targeted. Higher performing campaigns can cost dramatically less to run than poorly executed ones. This presents a significant barrier to entry for less skilled competitors.

Facebook Ads. Paid “display” ads appearing in targeted users’ newsfeeds or right hand columns.

Facebook Sponsored Posts. Sponsored posts in many cases look just like ads although by default they are visible to EVERYONE who likes your Page. In these regards they are not as good as ads for creating multiple ad variations targeted at different regions and user types.



Google Adwords. Google Adwords refers to the interface through which we place ads on all Google properties, including:

  • Google Search results
  • Google Maps
  • Google Display Network (website owners who get paid to show ad banners supplied through Adwords).
  • YouTube
  • Google’s App Network (app developers who get paid to show ads supplied Adwords).

Sample of Google Display Ad:


Google Ad Interface Sample (campaign names cropped out for privacy):



Ad Impression. An ad impression occurs any time your ad loads on a web page that someone is looking at. This includes both Search Ads and Display/Banner advertising.

Ad Click. A click occurs when someone clicks on your ad. Note that a “click” does not necessarily equal a visit to your website (note that there are often discrepancies between clicks and visits as a visit isn’t counted until the page loads 100%).

CTR (ClickThrough Rate). The percentage of folks who click on an ad after seeing it.

CPC (Cost Per Click). This is how much, on average, an advertising click is costing.

Conversions (or Goals). Conversions represent an action (signup, download, inquiry, form submission, phone call, etc) that you are measuring on your website by someone who clicked on your ad.

Cost per Conversion. The average cost per conversion or goal that occurs. This is calculated by dividing your ad cost by the number of conversions attained.

Conversion Rate. This the percentage of people who click on your ad and then “convert.”

View Through Conversions. These are the number of conversions that occurred involving people who saw your ad but did not click on it, but who later “converted.” This is very valuable for measuring the branding and reinforcement impact of your advertising (as well as the direct return on investment)

Display (Banner) Advertising. This is advertising where your ad is featured on a website.

Native Advertising. This is display advertising where your ad is automatically adjusted to look as much as possible like part of the website upon which it appears.

CPM (Cost Per Thousand) Advertising. In this method of advertising, websites bill you on a “per thousand impressions” basis. In the past, this was the main advertising offering of large websites.

Programmatic Advertising. Programmatic advertising has many different definitions, but essentially it involves using “real time bidding” to buy large amounts of Display/Banner advertising within certain demographics. The bids are typically on a CPM basis. This form of advertising is very practical for large, national ad buys, although working at a network level remains more effective for local/regional advertising if done strategically.

Advertising Network. This is a confusing term that refers both to large individual entities selling advertising (Google, Bing, Facebook) as well as companies who aggregate multiple different websites or properties within a “network.”

Google Analytics. The free Google Analytics platform is the free tool supplied by Google and used by a majority of companies to measure their website results. Even by default, Google Analytics is very powerful and it can be configured to measure most anything you could imagine, as well as integrate with other Google tools.

Google Analytics Screen Shot (showing common measurements):


*note that this is a tiny subset of the information available. In depth tracking is available by location, traffic source, etc.

Sessions. Synonymous with “visits.”

Users. The number of unique visitors. Some visitors have multiple sessions, which is why there are more sessions than users

Pageviews. The total number of pages viewed on the website during the selected date range

Pages / Session. The average number of pages viewed per visit (session). This number is an excellent indicator for relative engagement levels when comparing different sources of traffic.

Average Session Duration. This is, on average, how long each visitor stays on your site. It’s not well known that this measurement does not include the last page a visitor reads as Google can only measure the duration between going from one page to the next. What this means is that a single page visit shows as zero seconds in duration. Despite these limitations, this metric is also a great tool for comparing relative engagement between sources of traffic.

Bounce Rate. This represents the percentage of people who leave your site after viewing only one page. Certain pages like your contact page might have very high bounce rates (and that’s okay) although you’re in trouble if your home page has a high bounce rate.

% New Sessions. The percentage of sessions by visitors who have not previously visited the website.


Interested in online advertising? Have a look at our online advertising services or drop us a line!

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