Digital Marketing Education For The Non-Marketer

Because the world of marketing has changed tremendously in the last 10 years, this list of terms was created to provide some digital marketing education.  Much of the industry’s evolution has been propelled by the internet and what has become digital marketing.  It has inspired a language all its own and for those getting started or having to pick up where someone else left off in the print era, the lingo can be somewhat daunting.

digital marketing educationSometime ago, we published a list of marketing terms 101 and that list is still valid as it helps people understand the differences between inbound and outbound.  Below, I’ve compiled a list of terms to help you navigate and enhance your digital marketing education.  The intent here is to provide a simple explanation so that you can read marketing-related content and understand and use of these terms.  Having a better understanding will also help you understand which tactics might be a better fit for your organization.

Above the Fold:

You’ll hear web designers discuss this concept but it actually comes from the print world.  It refers to the headlines and stories that appear on the top half of the newspaper above the fold line as all papers are folded in half lengthwise for distribution.  Above the fold in the digital world simply refers to the area of a web page that’s visible before the user has to scroll down the page.

The concept, however, has less and less relevance as we now review web pages on so many different devices with different screen sizes.  FYI—there is no set pixel size for the fold as it will vary depending on the visitor’s screen size and resolution.

Banner Ad:

The ads that appear at the top of web pages.  This used to be one of the most common forms of digital advertising.

Ad Click:

Digital ads should have a call to action in them (CTA) and this is the action that a user takes when they click on the button in the ad.

Ad Exchange:

This is a marketplace that allows online publishers and advertisers to buy and sell advertising space (inventory) in online auctions.

Ad Impressions:

An ad impression is the number of times an ad is served and is countable.  It’s not counting the number of times a user actually sees or clicks something on the ad—simply the number of times the ad is delivered or served.   Each time an ad is served, it is counted as one impression.

Ad Inventory:

A number of web site publishers (i.e. Huffington Post) offer ads on their web sites to pay for their costs of gathering and delivering content.  The number of possible ads that can be displayed or delivered is considered their ad inventory.  If the publisher has 2 positions on its home page for ads and there are 10,000 visits daily to the home page, it has an ad inventory of 20,000 impressions per day.

Ad Targeting:

You can select a series of attributes to describe the audience you want to see your ad and that is called ad targeting.  The attributes could be based on demographics like age and household income or psychographics which are behaviors, including web browsing activity.


These are essential data that reflect users of the web site and how they engage with the web site.  This data is used to figure out user behavior, improve the user inter-face and experience and to optimize conversions.


The concept is to determine what activity should get attribution or credit for producing a certain activity. For example, you might send out an email that has some educational information in it that takes the reader to a blog with a call-to-action.  The email would get attribution for delivering the conversion if you use first-touch attribution.  With last touch attribution, the blog post would get credit and with multi-touch attribution, resulting in each getting partial credit.

Behavioral Targeting:

You would target an ad audience based on some previous behavior, that might include visiting a certain web site, an online search or a purchase.

Call-To-Action (CTA):

This is typically a phrase that is included with an ad or a button that asks the reader to do something like “Download now” or “Click here to read more”.


A channel is essentially a distribution method.  For example, it could display advertising, a social post or a mention in an industry article done as part of media relations.

Click-through Rate (CTR):

This is usually shown as a percentage. The stat shows how often people who were served the piece of information ended up clicking on the call-to-action.  For example, if your ad was shown 1000 times and it received 5 clicks, the CTR is 0.5%.  The higher the CTR, the better the ad is performing.

Contextual Targeting:

This is the concept of selecting an audience based on the kind of content being displayed on a particular webpage.


When you create a campaign, you select a certain action that you want the audience to perform.  When someone takes this action, it is considered a conversion. Examples might be signing up for a webinar or downloading a checklist.

Conversion rate is simply expressed as a percentage of the total number of people who were served the option.

Conversion Tracking:

Simply monitoring the number of conversions that have occurred over a certain period of time.


A cookie is essentially information that is stored on a web site visitor’s browser.  The cookie tracks their activity on a site and then uses that information to remember how the visitor behaved and what information they looked at.

Copy:digital marketing glossary

The text that appears in an ad.

Cost Per Acquisition:

The total cost of acquiring a customer.  To calculate, you take the total amount spent on a certain campaign and divide it by the number of customers attained from that campaign.  This is an important measurement for comparing marketing campaign effectiveness.

Cost Per Click (CPC):

The dollar value an advertiser pays for every ad click.  To calculate, you divide the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of clicks generated.

Cost Per Lead (CPL):

This is how much, on average, you pay for each ad click that results in a lead conversion. Remember leads are different than sales.  CPL is calculated by dividing the total amount spent on a campaign by the number of leads generated.

Cost Per Thousand (CPM):

This metric shows how much it costs to serve 1000 ad impressions.  This is also used as a standard for buying display ads.  Ad inventory is typically sold on a CPM basis.

Content Marketing:

Content marketing is a strategic marketing technique whereby you create and distribute valuable, relevant, content to attract and build an audience.  In order to achieve success, content must be created and distributed with consistency to create awareness.  The ultimate objective is to drive customer interaction so it should also contain some kind of call-to-action. In content marketing, the brand owns the media. It’s an asset.

Email Advertising:

Many industry journals or professional publications offer email advertising in their monthly electronic newsletters.  The advertisements are the clickable banner ads and links that are part of the email or e-newsletter.


Frequency is the total number of times an ad is served to the same consumer during a time period.

Geographic Targeting:

The ability to select an audience for a specific campaign based on geographic characteristics including zip codes, cities, states, etc.

In-Stream Video Ads:

The interruptive video ads that are played, before, during or after the video content you want to watch.

Keyword or Phrase:

This is a specific word or, more likely, phrase selected by advertisers to trigger and include their ad within search engine results. An advertiser chooses keywords so their ad will show up within search pages returned for the keyword.

Landing Page:

The web page that users are directed to after they click on a display or paid search ad or even just a call-to-action from a web site.


Someone who has raised their hand to request more information.  A potential customer.  This individual will have given you their contact information, often by signing up to get a report, a newsletter or filling out a form to download other content.

Mobile Search:

An internet search that is completed on a mobile device—i.e. mobile phone, tablet, or other hand-held device.

Native Advertising:

A paid form of distributing content that is usually information-based, educational, and highly targeted to a specific audience.  It doesn’t feature a product or service, simply information.  It’s delivered in stream so the user experience isn’t disrupted.

Paid Search:

Placing ads in search engine results.  These ads show up when an individual does a search on Bing, Google, etc.

Pay Per Click (PPC):

This is an advertising pricing model where advertisers pay vendors or publishers a fee based on the number of clicks received in a campaign.


These open in a new browser window that loads on top of the current webpage.  Pop-ups can be blocked by a number of different ad-blocker software programs.


The number of people who see your message.  One person who is served your ad five times and clicks on it results in a reach of 1, 5 impressions, and click-through rate of 20%.

Retargeting /Remarketing:

Serving ads to people who have previously visited your website.  When they visit your website, they are marked with a ‘cookie’ and then their behavior can then be tracked to serve them ads.

Search Advertising:

An alternative term that means paid search.

Social Advertising:

Launching paid ads on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

I created this handy list because the odds are pretty good that you’ll be involved in a conversation where someone will use the terms and you want to be sure you know what they are talking about so that you can ask intelligent questions.

As mentioned earlier, marketing has changed dramatically over the last decade.  Becoming better educated about the terms and what they mean will help you understand the questions to ask that you consider alternative marketing tactics.

The tactics you use should be based on the kind of audience you’re going after with some consideration for the time horizon and the budget involved.  If you still find yourself scratching your head about the best methodologies suited for your business, consider taking our marketing audit and we’ll walk you through the best options available.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *