The Ultimate Programmatic Advertising Glossary for Publishers

Ben Morrisroe
April 26, 2019

The programmatic ecosystem is full of new jargon, acronyms and technical phrases that just keep popping up and can make it a hard industry to navigate. But fear not, we are here to help you get a grasp of it all and build your knowledge on programmatic advertising.

We have created a glossary for you to reference throughout your programmatic journey. This article contains the definitions for all the commonly used terms in programmatic advertising with useful links to more in-depth content on the more complicated topics.

How to Use this Article

Keep it bookmarked by hitting that star in the link bar and come back here whenever you find yourself getting lost in a sea of jargon. You can hit Command and F to search this article for the term you are looking to understand. All terms are in alphabetical order.

We will be periodically updating this article with the latest terms and definitions in programmatic advertising so make sure to come back for more. If this article looks too daunting, you can get this information delivered in bite-sized chunks to your inbox by subscribing below.

Ad Exchange Buyers Marketplace

A section of the ad exchange buyer user interface that provides a shopping like experience to help discover publishers and create deals

Ad Server

A digital store of content that will serve to pages and apps. Ad servers upload the ad to the webpage and target the most relevant ad to a particular user.

Ad Tag

Code snippets generated and provided from a web source that contains information on how the ad will be displayed

Ad Unit

These are the actual specifications for the ad in terms of dimensions and formatting

Ad Refreshes

Auto ad refreshes that are triggered by a predefined logic like a user based action, a scrolling or clicking event, or based on the users time on page

Ad Inventory

The space a publisher makes available for advertising


Ads.txt is an IAB initiative to improve transparency in programmatic advertising and prevent unauthorised inventory sales. Publishers can create their own ads.txt files to identify who is authorized to sell their inventory.


A company that works for marketers to create, place and buy media

Agency Trading Desk

A team within an ad agency that conducts online media buying as a service. They either use their own tech or DSPs to buy and optimise media campaigns on ad exchanges, ad networks and any other inventory sources

Bid Request

A real-time bidding (RTB) request sent from the ad server to the buyer for the auction of an impression

Branded Inventory

Inventory that reveals the following information to potential buyers: 1) the full URL where the impression will occur 2) Publisher ID 3) Seller name


A predetermined action intended to be done by ad audiences. Each time the audience of an ad perform this action (i.e. membership sign up) a conversion is counted.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

CPC is a metric for determining the dollar value an advertiser will pay for each click generated (on average). Calculated by dividing the total amount spent on ad campaign by clicks generated.

Cost Per Mile (CPM)

A measure of the cost of serving 1000 ad impressions. This provides the advertiser with the value of an individual ad impression. cpm is also a standard measure for purchasing display ads –  inventory is usually sold on a CPM basis


This is the actual ‘advertisement’ that the audience will see when the ad is served. Usually in the form of a code snippet, file or link

Deal Check

A tool that allows publishers to check for issues that are decreasing the number of matched ad requests for their Preferred deals or Private Auctions

Deal ID

A unique number assigned to each automated ad buy to allow buyers and sellers to identify it.

Demand Side Platform (DSP)

A DSP is a marketplace for ad inventory that combines multiple ad exchanges into a single interface. Buyers will bid for the purchase of inventory

Description URL

When a video is playing on site, there will be a URL that describes the content of the video. This can be in URL form or as text on a page that describes the video


A data management platform is a centralised platform to collect and organise first, second and third-party audience data from any source like cookie data. It is used by agencies, publishers and marketers to improve targeting.

Dynamic Allocation

A network level instrument intended to amplify your remnant and Ad Exchange income without compromising reservations


eCPM or effective cost per mille, takes into account how many impressions were actually paid for. eCPM will be specific to each of your ad sources and is used to show what the value of your ad inventory is, based on the number of impressions your ad partners purchased

Estimated Amount Of Impressions Per Day

The number of impressions estimated to deliver to a publisher’s site per day during the lifetime of an ad

Exchange Bidding

Exchange bidding is a server-side process where exchange networks and SSPs bid on inventory in a unified auction. It is often seen as Google’s answer to header bidding

First Look

DoubleClick First Look (DFL) is a feature in Google’s AdX that allows you to let selected programmatic advertisers compete against reserved guaranteed line items. In return for the opportunity to bid on these impressions over your premium campaigns, buyers will need to pay a higher price. The aim of DFL is to let programmatic advertisers take valuable impressions when they are willing to pay more than your direct campaigns.

First Party Data

First party data is information you have collected about your audience, most often from cookie-based data in display advertising and can include information gathered from website analytics platforms, CRM systems and business analysis tools.

First Price Auction

In a first price auction, all advertisers compete for an impression with the highest bid winning and paying the publisher this bid price. In a first price auction, the highest bidder determines the price of the impression.

Gross Estimated Spend

The amount that a publisher estimates will be spent during the lifetime of an ad

Frequency Capping

A way to restrict the number of times a specific visitor to a website is shown a particular advertisement.

Header Bidding

Header bidding is an advanced programmatic technique where publishers offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges at the same time before making calls to their ad servers. The idea is by letting multiple demand sources bid on the same inventory at the same time, publishers increase their yield and make more money.


Abbreviation for interface Media Arts Software Development Kit


The measure used to count the number of times an ad has been served


Invalid traffic is any activity that doesn’t come from a real user with genuine interest. It can include accidental clicks caused by intrusive ad implementations, fraudulent clicking by competing advertisers, advertising botnets and more.


The ad space available on web pages or applications that the publisher makes available to sell to advertisers

Lazy Loading

Lazy loading pages are built with placeholder content boxes that load initially. These are then replaced with content, or ads as the user scrolls down the page. This allows for faster page speed times as users don’t have to wait for ads that may never be in their view to load.

Line Item

An advertiser’s Guarantee to purchase an exact number of impressions (CPM), user clicks (CPC), or time on a particular day and at a particular price. Additionally, a line item indicates when and where the advertiser’s ads will appear.

Marketing Attribution

A way to effectively measure all digital channels and the impact each touchpoint has on the customer journey and assigning a value to each point that contributed to a certain outcome


An ad that will serve during another video or interaction. An example might be an ad that plays 2 minutes into a long video

Multisize Ad Placements

Multi-size ad placements allow you to send requests for multiple ad sizes in one bid request, increasing the amount of competition you have for an ad placement.

Open Auction

The public marketplace where Ad Exchange matches buyers’ targeting with sellers’ inventory and seeks the highest bid


The arrangement made between the advertisers and publishers stating what has been sold and for how much

Overlay Ads

An ad that appears in the video player while content is playing and covering a part of the screen.

Override Blocks

A tool to override blocking rules for the private marketplace

Parent Profile

The first publisher profile created in the publisher’s Ad Exchange account, it acts as the default profile when other profiles are not associated with a specific offer.

Percentage-based Line Item

A line item that has a delivery goal which is a percentage of the total impressions delivered to the targeted ad unit.


Once the feature video has ended, the video ad position will serve


Before the feature video has started, the video ad position will serve.

Preferred Deals

Preferred deals are usually a one-to-one deal where the advertiser is given priority access to a site’s inventory before others for a fixed, negotiated CPM. If the buyer decides not to bid or bids below the negotiated cpm, the inventory goes to the open auction.

Price Floor

The minimum CPM price a publisher will sell their inventory for. Different floor prices can be set for different ad formats and sections of content.

Private Marketplace (PMP)

Private marketplace deals involve offering inventory on a publisher’s site to a selected pool of buyers and gives them priority access within a small auction before the inventory goes to the open auction. They will bid above a negotiated minimum price in exchange for this but are not locked in to buy a certain volume of impressions and so can buy at their discretion.

Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic advertising is the automated buying and selling of online advertising using software, as opposed to the traditional process of human negotiations and insertion orders.

Programmatic Guaranteed

Advertisers agree to purchase a guaranteed volume of impressions for a fixed CPM on a publisher’s site. Once this deal has been made, the corresponding inventory is sold and reserved for that deal.

Publisher Profile

A profile created by publishers that shows a snapshot of their brand and their offering to buyers and advertisers

Quantity Based Line Item

A line item that is reserved to meet certain impression or click goals.


The price that the advertiser is being charged to deliver guaranteed line items

Remnant Inventory

Unsold inventory that is not contractually obliged to deliver a desired number of impressions. It is the unsold inventory after direct and premium buyers have been exhausted and are usually sold at a discounted rate through programmatic buys.


Real-time bidding refers to the buying and selling of online ad impressions through real-time auctions that occur in the time it takes a webpage to load. Those auctions are often facilitated by ad exchanges or supply-side platforms.

Second Party Data

Second-party data is usually someone else’s first-party data. It is usually shared through an arrangement with a trusted partner willing to share customer data

Second Price Auction

In a second price auction, the runner up determines the price of the impression. So in a second price auction, if two buyers bid $10 and $15, then the buyer who bid $15 will win but will only pay the publisher $10.01

Semi-Transparent Inventory

Inventory that reveals a truncated URL of where impressions will occur prospecting buyers e.g. the full URL is “,” the truncated version is

Skippable In-Stream Ads

A video ad format that allows users to skip an ad after a certain amount of time


A supply-side platform is a piece of software that automates the process of selling advertising space. They are used by digital publishers to sell display and video ads to maximise the price their impressions sell for. SSPs help publishers connect their inventory with ad exchanges, DSPs and ad networks

Standard in-stream Ads

A video ad format that is non-skippable

Sticky Ad Placements

Sticky ads are ads that stick to the user’s screen, even when they scroll the page. Sticky ads can help you to optimise for viewability without harming your user experience.

Third Party Data

Third party data is any information collected by a company/publisher that does not have a direct relationship with the user the data is being collected on.

True CPM

True CPM measures revenue against the total impressions sent, not just matched providing publishers with a better understanding of the return they are making for the inventory they have. The formula is revenue/(total impressions/1000)

VAST (Video Ad Serving Template)

A 3PAS standard for in-stream videos that allows publishers that support VAST to play any VAST-compliant ad


An ad impression is deemed viewable if 50% of the ad’s pixels are in the user’s view for more than 1 second. Ad viewability rate is the percentage of total ad impressions that were deemed viewable.

VPAID (Video Player-Ad Interface)

An industry standard for interactive in-stream video ads created by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

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