40 Must-Know TV and Digital Video Advertising Definitions

Amrita Hemdev
By Amrita Hemdev
January 29, 2018
If you are new to digital advertising, understanding the complex jargon that dominates the industry can be complicated. With words such as ad impression and acronyms like VCR thrown casually in conversations, you can feel left behind. To catch up, here are 40 key definitions of phrases commonly used in the digital advertising industry.

The video industry is evolving rapidly, and as the marketplace grows, so does its vocabulary.

This digital advertising glossary is one of the most extensive lists of advertising terminology, lingo, acronyms, and buzzwords available on the web. TV advertising is changing with the evolution of technology, which is giving everyone plenty of new terms with which to enlighten or obfuscate. To help you cut through the jargon with confidence, here are some must-know terms to help you navigate the world of digital video advertising. 





Linear TV: Another term for live and scheduled television content -- or to put it another way: the viewer has to watch content as it airs, instead of being able to choose content on-demand.

MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor): Any company that sells and distributes bundles of TV channels to paying customers.

Pay-TV: The subscription-based cable TV ecosystem. When customers sign up for an MVPD, they are entering the pay-TV ecosystem. TV channel owners make money in two ways: advertising and subscriptions. MVPDs pay TV channel owners a negotiated fee for each subscriber that pays for their channels.

Connected TV: A television set that is connected to the Internet via OTT devices like Blu-ray players, streaming boxes or sticks, and gaming consoles, or has built-in internet capabilities (i.e., a Smart TV) and is able to access a variety of long-form and short-form web-based content.

VOD (video on demand): A service offered by MVPDs that allows users to watch TV programming after the movie or TV show has already aired.

Set-Top Box: Boxes sold by MVPDs that allow customers to watch and record TV. Recently, distributors are offering “connected” boxes, which allow customers to stream content as well as watch live TV.

TV Everywhere: The ecosystem of sites and apps that allow people to watch live and on-demand linear TV as long as they subscribe (and authenticate their login information) to an MVPD. For example, HBO Now is an OTT service, and HBO Go is a TV Everywhere service.

Upfront: An industry event hosted by a TV network to showcase upcoming shows and TV specials in order to secure early buys among advertisers.

NewFront: An industry event hosted by a digital publisher (and some TV networks) that mimic the TV upfront. Mostly, these are splashy parties showcasing the publisher’s “brand.” Very little upfront deal-making actually comes out of NewFront season.

DMA (Designated Market Area): DMAs are a way of designating particular geographic markets and are often ranked by the size of the population.

Dayparting: In broadcast programming, dayparting is the practice of dividing the broadcast day into several parts. Each part is assigned a different type of radio or television program that matches the audience that is likely to be engaging with the content at the time period that is being aired. Television programs are most often geared toward a particular demographic, and what the target audience typically engages in at that time.

Cable Zone: A cable zone is a local area or subset of a DMA.





OTT (over-the-top): The term used for the delivery of film and TV content via the internet, without requiring users to subscribe to an MVPD like Comcast or DirecTV. OTT includes mass entertainment services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, as well as video streaming apps owned by TV and digital content companies such as HBO Now and DramaFever.

SVOD (subscription video on demand): An OTT video streaming service that users have to pay for.

AVOD (advertising-supported video on demand): An OTT video streaming service that includes advertising next to content. Typically, these services are free, though some like Hulu offer subscriptions that also include limited amounts of advertising.

TVOD (transactional video on demand): Video platforms and services that allow users to buy or rent individual pieces of content. Think iTunes or Amazon Video.

EST (electronic sell-through): Same thing as TVOD.

YouTuber: YouTube personality.

Influencer: People who have a lot of followers on one or a number of social media platforms. YouTubers were the original social influencers.

Autoplay Video: A video that starts playing without requiring the users to start it. It’s popular on Facebook and on many websites owned by TV companies.

Vertical Video: The most popular video viewing format on mobile social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.

360 Video: A type of interactive video that allows users to get a full view of the camera’s surroundings by moving their hands or cursor on the screen. It’s seen as the gateway format for the adoption of virtual reality.

In-Stream Video Ad: Played before, during or after the streaming video content that the consumer has requested (Pre-roll, Mid-roll, Post-roll). These ads cannot typically be stopped from being played (particularly with pre-roll). This format is frequently used to monetize the video content that the publisher is delivering. In-stream video ads can be played inside short or long-form video and rely on video content for their delivery. There are four different types of video content where in-stream may play: UGC (user generated content/video), syndicated, sourced, and journalistic. In-stream video ads are displayed within the context of streaming video content.

Video On-Demand (VOD):  Video content that is controlled, enabled, and consumed whenever a viewer wants after its official release date or original air date and time. VOD content can be found on set-top boxes, OTT devices, mobile web, mobile apps, and video streaming services.

In-Banner Video: In-banner video ads are video ads triggered within a standard display banner ad on a webpage. They usually follow standard Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) banner sizes (e.g., 300 x 250)

Video Aspect Ratio: Video comes in several aspect ratios. The two most popular ratios are widescreen (16:9) and standard (4:3). The aspect ratio of an image describes the proportional relationship between its width and its height. It is commonly expressed as two numbers separated by a colon, i.e., 16:9. Preferred aspect ratio is 16:9 (formatted for HD screens). For vertical video, the recommended aspect ratio is 9:16 (most phones), 3:4 (iPad), and 10:16 & 2:3 (other phones/tablets).

Native Video Ad: A video ad that follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. Native ads don't stand out as an obvious ad unit, making readers more inclined to engage with the ad as they consume the rest of the content on the page.





UGC (user-generated content): Videos made by regular people, not professionals. It’s popular on social networks but not seen as “premium” by advertisers.

MCN (multi-channel network): Glorified YouTube content and advertising networks which aggregated hundreds, if not thousands, of channels to sell ad inventory at scale. MCNs would offer YouTube channel owners ad sales support in exchange for a cut of the revenue. More recently, MCNs have tried to evolve and become digital content companies that produce (and therefore own) some of their content while also moving to new platforms. 





View: The most popular metric in digital video. Trouble is, the definition of view changes depending on the platform. Facebook and Instagram measure views at three seconds, while Snapchat and Instagram Stories count views as soon as the video starts playing; YouTube, meanwhile, can count a view anywhere between the start of a video and 30 seconds in. This has made it difficult for advertisers to assess the value of viewership on different platforms.

Viewability: A metric in digital advertising that measures the likelihood of an ad actually being seen. For video ads, the MRC standard is 50 percent of the ad being in view of the screen for at least two seconds. GroupM, the biggest ad spender on the planet, has more rigid standards.

MRC (Media Rating Council): An industry watchdog that sets the standard for measurement in the media industry and audits companies to ensure they are complying with those standards.

Nielsen Rating/Share: The number indicates the percentage of TV households that were watching a particular show. For instance, a Nielsen rating share of 5.0/10 would mean that out of all TV households in the U.S. (over 118 million), 5 percent were watching that show; and out of all U.S. TV households that had a TV in use, 10 percent watched that show. A ratings share can be broken down into age and gender demographics as well.

AMA (average minute audience): This concept is one of the biggest reasons why it is hard to compare TV view  to online video views. In TV, programming has an AMA measurement, which tells advertisers the average number of people that watched a particular program at any 60-second interval.

GRP (gross ratings point): A math equation used by ad planners and buyers to determine how many people within an intended audience might have seen their ads. For instance, say you wanted your ad to be seen by women between the ages of 18 and 49, and you knew that 40 percent of TV viewers in that demographic watched ABC’s prime-time programming every Wednesday night. You decide to run three commercials between 8 and 10 p.m. The GRP would then be 120: 40 percent of the target audience reached, multiplied by the number of times the ad aired, multiplied by 100.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA): Cost of advertising based on a visitor taking some specifically defined action in response to an ad. Examples of 'actions' related to video include: engaging with the overlay unit, clicking on the client site after completion, or completing a purchase.

Video Completion Rate (VCR): The percentage of all video ads that play through their entire duration to completion. Also known as View Through Rate (VTR) and Video Completion Rate (VCR). Not to be confused with the videocassette recorder.





CPM (cost per mille): The cost of an ad that an advertiser will pay for every 1,000 impressions.

CPCV (cost per completed view): A popular metric in video which allows advertisers to pay based only on when a video ad has played to completion.

Addressable TV Advertising: Not to be confused with programmatic TV. Addressable TV advertising gives advertisers the ability to target individual households by working directly with MVPDs, which typically get to sell two minutes of commercial space for every hour of TV programming. Currently, the addressable TV market is only 42 million households.

Ad Impression: An ad impression is a single viewing of a single ad by a single individual.


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Amrita Hemdev

Amrita is an inbound marketer. She studied marketing and project management at UC Berkeley and proceeded to work in a fast-paced, digital advertising tech startup, with a goal of increasing brand awareness. She is currently the Content Marketing Specialist at ZypMedia. Passionate about digital marketing and having six years of experience in this field, she also started her digital marketing and creative agency, Sociato, based in India.