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Jargon buster

All the important online behavioural advertising terms explained.


A company that sells a product or service and runs advertising campaigns to promote that product or service. An advertiser will also have its own website and therefore often be referred to as a web publisher/site owner.

Advertising Agency

A company that works with advertisers to create campaigns and a plan to execute it, including the best places to run the campaign to achieve the best results.

Advertising Exchange

Are technology platforms that facilitate the bidded buying and selling of online media advertising inventory from multiple ad networks. The approach is technology-driven as opposed to the historical approach of negotiating price on media inventory.

Advertising Networks

Provide an outsourced sales capability for publishers and a means to aggregate inventory and audiences from numerous sources in a single buying opportunity for media buyers. Ad networks may provide specific technologies to enhance value to both publishers and advertisers, including unique targeting capabilities, creative generation, and optimization. Ad networks’ business models and practices may include features that are similar to those offered by ad exchanges.

Advertising Server

Ad serving describes the technology and service that places advertisements on web sites. Ad serving technology companies provide software to web sites and advertisers to serve ads, count them, choose the ads that will make the website or advertiser most money, and monitor progress of different advertising campaigns.


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Contextual Advertising

Advertising targeted at a specific individual when visiting a website. Automated systems serve adverts depending on the page content. For instance, when viewing a film review website, the user could be served new cinema releases, latest DVDs or film merchandise advertising.

Data Aggregator

A company that pulls together data from multiple sources and builds ‘segments’ based on interests (eg car buyers). These are sold to advertisers, advertising agencies or advertising networks directly or traded via an advertising exchange so the advertising can be more relevant to the consumer.

Demand Side Platform (DSP)

A demand-side platform (DSP) is a system that allows digital advertisers to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through one interface. Real time bidding for displaying online ads takes place within the ad exchanges, and by utilizing a DSP, marketers can manage their bids for the banners and the pricing for the data that they are layering on to target their audiences. Much like Paid Search, using DSPs allows users to optimize based on set Key Performance Indicators such as Cost-per-clicks, and Cost-per-action.

Display Advertising

A form of online advertising where an advertiser’s message is shown on a destination web page, generally set off in a box at the top or bottom or to one side of the content of the page.

Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA)

Using previous online user activity (e.g., pages visited, content viewed, searches, clicks and purchases) to generate a segment which is used to to deliver relevant advertising to users (sometimes also called Interest-based Advertising).

Sell Side Platform (SSP)

A sell side platform (SSP), also called sell side optimizer, inventory aggregator, and yield optimizer is a technology platform that provides outsourced media selling and ad network management services for publishers. A sell side platform business model resembles that of an ad network in that it aggregates ad impression inventory. However, a sell side platform serves publishers exclusively, and does not provide services for advertisers.

The inventory managed by the SSP is usually purchased by aggregate buyers, either demand side platforms (DSPs) or ad networks.

Targeted Advertising

Advertising that is specifically aimed at a particular segment of users based on factors such as demographics or behaviour.

Web Publisher

A company that promotes its products and services via its own website and sells advertising on the site to help pay for them.

Web Browser

Software that retrieves and collects information resources, and arranges and displays the results in a standardized form on a device such as a computer or mobile. Examples include Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera.