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Glossary: The Programmatic Alphabet Soup

Just starting out programmatic? You'll probably need to know these terms.

There are many glossaries related to programmatic out there, but we’ve come up with our own version by incorporating industry standards and our experience to help you start. This programmatic glossary is a living post and will be updated sporadically whenever there are new terms that emerge.

Programmatic Glossary

Above the fold (ATF) – Content that a viewer immediately sees without having to scroll or navigate.

Ad Exchange – A technology platform that enables buying and selling of digital ads.

Ad Frequency – Refers to the number of times an ad is displayed to a unique user.

Ad Server – A platform that manages, serves and tracks digital ads.

Ads.txt – IAB approved text file hosted on a website to list authorised sellers for the ad inventory.

App-ads.txt – Similar to Ads.txt but specifically made for app inventory.

Audience Targeting – Tactic focused on reaching users based on specific traits such as demographics, interest or purchase behaviour.

Advertising-based Video On Demand (AVOD) – Business model for free streaming services that earn revenue from advertising slots.

Below the fold (BTF) – Content where a viewer has to scroll down to view.


Bid Request – A piece of code executed when a user loads a webpage or app that requires an ad to be displayed. This code is sent to buying platforms with data relating to the user, device used and page.

Bid Response – A piece of code sent by the buying platform in response to the bid request when the bid request data matches with the platform’s targeting criteria.

Brand Safety – Keeping a brand’s reputation safe when advertising online.

Contextual Targeting – Tactic focused on reaching users in the right context. Normally associated with keywords, page/app category or location. 

Cost per Action (CPA) – Cost of a conversion or pre-defined action. Calculated by taking cost of ads divided by number of conversions or pre-defined actions.

Cost per Click (CPC) – Cost of getting a click. Calculated by taking cost of ads divided by number of clicks.

Cost per Mille (CPM) – The cost of 1,000 ads. Calculated by taking cost of ads divided by number of impressions multiply by 1000.

Cost per Completed View (CPCV) – Cost of getting a complete view of a video ad. Calculated by taking cost of ads divided by number of completed views.

Data Management Platform (DMP) – A platform that allows collecting, organising and activating of data. Some common DMP includes Lotame, Eyeota, Salesforce (formerly Krux) and Oracle (formerly Bluekai).

Deal ID – Unique identifier meant to facilitate ad inventory buying via Private Marketplace (PMP) and Programmatic Guaranteed (PG)

Demand Side Platform (DSP) – A platform to buy online ads. Some of the major players include Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager, Display & Video 360 (DV360) and The Trade Desk (TTD).

Device ID – A unique anonymous identifier associated to each individual mobile device. It is made up of numbers and letters. For iOS/iPadOS devices, device IDs are known as IDFA while they are known as GAID on Android devices.

Floor Price – Minimum price set by a publisher to sell the ad inventory.

Lookback Window – A period of time used to determine whether an action taken was the result of the ad. It is also referred to as Attribution Window or Conversion Window.

Native Ads – Ads that look and feel like the surrounding content.

Pre-bid Targeting – Pre-defined set of rules to filter out unwanted bid requests. This ensures that the bids submitted to win an impression match the pre-defined targeting parameters. Such parameters include location, data segments, keywords, viewability and many more.

Owned & Operated (O&O) – Inventory exclusivity due to owner. Examples include YouTube, Gmail and Google Search which are Google O&O or Yahoo Native and Yahoo Mail which are Verizon Media O&O.

Over-the-top (OTT) – Refers to services (typically streaming) delivered via the Internet.

Private Auction (PA) – A type of Private Marketplace (PMP) deal where publisher offers non-guaranteed inventory with a floor price to a select group of advertisers to compete.

Private Marketplace (PMP) – Ad inventory set aside for advertisers who want higher priority or bespoke capability from the publisher. This can come in the form of First Look, unique publisher data targeting, custom formats and many more.

Preferred Deal (PD) – A type of Private Marketplace (PMP) deal where publisher offers non-guaranteed inventory at a fixed price to a single advertiser. 

Programmatic Guaranteed (PG) – A type of Private Marketplace (PMP) deal where publisher offers guaranteed inventory at a fixed price to a single advertiser. Also referred to as Programmatic Direct.

Run of Network (RON) – Set of ad units or inventory across a network of sites from one or more publishers.

Run of Site (ROS) – Set of ad units or inventory from a publisher across one site.

Useragent – String of metadata sent out by browser that contains information such as browser’s name, version, operating system and rendering engine.

Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) – Script developed by IAB to act as the bridge between an ad server where video asset is stored and video player where the ad gets rendered.

Video Player Interface Definition (VPAID) – Similar to VAST but has an added feature to allow interactivity in the video player.

Viewability – An online advertising metric meant to track impressions that has the potential to be seen by users.

Feature Image – School vector created by pch.vector via Freepik

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