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Media and advertising terms defined

Posted by Scott Christopher on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 @ 15:09 PM

The world of advertising and media can often be difficult to understand. It seems like there's a new acronym for some new technology, every day - like RTB, BR or CPLV. Luckily, you have your friends at McCulloch+Company to help you navigate these waters and explain what all of these terms mean. This blog post will do just that: define many of the most popular media buying and planning terms and a few of the more obscure ones too. 

First, some general media buying terms:

  • Impressions – the total number of exposures to an advertisement 
  • Efficiency – the relationship of media cost to audience delivery, usually defined in terms of CPM
  • CPM - Cost Per Thousand impressions, used across all media types to quantify value
  • SOV - Share of Voice, the percentage of a brand's advertising presence, as compared to it's competition
  • KPI - Key Performance Indicator - the goal or goals of your campaign, how you will measure success
  • CTA - Call-To-Action, the trigger to action within an ad, usually signified in a colored button on the ad

Now for terms associated with broadcast, the term used to describe network TV (generally the main 5 over-the-air stations) and terrestrial radio:

  • Reach - approximate percentage of the audience you are reaching during flight
  • Frequency - approximate number of times a person sees/hears a message during flight
  • Flight - Scheduled dates of a media buy - usually used for broadcast (radio and TV) but also for digital
  • Rating Point
    • Broadcast (Radio/TV) is purchased in rating point increments. One rating point is equivalent to 1% of the target audience population.
    • Reach x Frequency = Gross Rating Points
    • Reach and Frequency are inversely related--Reach is usually associated with TV while Frequency is more closely aligned with Radio 


  • Cost Per Point (CPP) – Cost for one rating point – applicable for both TV or radio
  • Demographic - the group of target customers you are trying to reach with your media buy, usually defined by just age &gender but sometimes ethnicity
  • Designated Market Area (DMA) – geographical region in which TV stations have primary coverage, as defined by Nielsen Television
  • Radio Metro – geographical region in which radio stations have primary coverage, as defined by Nielsen Audio
  • Nielsen - the primary research company that provides measurement of most media types via third party surveys (mostly associated with Radio and TV)
  • Traffic - term used to signify the sending of a produced commercial to a station 


  • FSI - Free Standing Insert, a print newspaper and direct mail product--usually glossy--that is inserted into the middle of a newspaper or shared mail piece
  • Cover positions - premium full page positions within a magazine - C2 (inside front cover); C3 (inside back cover); C4 (back cover)
  • Cover Wrap - a premium half or full page unit that wraps the front of a magazine - either 2 pages (front and back) or 4 pages (both sides of front and back cover). May be referred to as a "false front" as well; it still includes the magazine name across the top.
  • Polybag - a plastic bag wrapped on the outside of magazine or newspaper. A brand can either advertise a message on this bag or include a product within the bag.
  • Spread - a two page unit on adjacent pages; can be full page or half page ads
  • Bellyband - seen below a unit that is usually wrapped and affixed to the outside of a magazine. Often used in B2B advertising.


  • Advertorial - the original native advertising, this is the practice of filling paid ad space with a story promoting the business. This is labeled prominently with "paid advertisement" at the top or bottom of the page.


  • OOH - acroymn for Out-Of-Home a term refering to all outdoor advertising including billboards, transit, aerial banners, sky-writing and many other forms of alternative outdoor media
  • TAB ratings - the system of measuring OOH impressions
  • RHR, LHR - Right Hand Read, Left Hand Read - referring to the position of a unit in relation to the flow of traffic on the road
  • Spot - A commercial for TV usually 30 seconds in duration, but can be 15, 60 seconds, 2 minutes or more in length
  • Spotload - Number of spots within the cable buy or on a given cable station in the buy
  • Taggable - A :30 network-produced spot, generally promoting a cable show for the first 20 seconds with a brand "tag" on the final 10 seconds; usually given as added value for a cable buy


  • CTR - Click-Through Rate, usually represented as a percentage showing the number of clicks divided by the total impressions served
  • SEM - Search Engine Marketing, the phrase used to refer to pay-per-click search advertising in which keywords are bid on and text ads displayed. Available with all major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
  • SEO - Search Engine Optimization, the phrase used to describe adjustments a brand can make to their website's design and content to rank higher in organic search
  • CPLV - Cost Per Landing page View
  • CPCV - Cost Per Completed View, used in online video campaigns
  • Sessions - A Google Analytics term that quantifies site visits a little more clearly as "a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example a single session can contain multiple screen or page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions."
  • BR - Bounce rate - another Google Analytics term that represents the percentage of people that leave a landing page without browsing further 
  • RTB - Real-Time Bidding, the basis of auction-based programmatic buying in which unsold impressions are sold on exchange. You can read more about this complex subject in this blog post
  • OTT - Over-The-Top, used to refer to paid subscription video on demand services (SVOD) like Netflix, HBOGo, Sling TV, CBS All Access and the like.

Hopefully you will found this glossary helpful. Feel free to bookmark it and use it for a reference as you educate yourself about the ever-changing world of media and advertising. If there's a term you don't see on this list and you're wondering about it, leave a comment and we'd be happy to help! 

McCulloch+Company is an advertising media services company that integrates the innovation of digital media with the strengths of traditional paths. Founded in 1994 and located in historic Roswell, Georgia, McCulloch+Company is regarded as one of the Southeast's preeminent media agencies. The agency is skilled at managing B2B and B2C clients in a multitude of industry categories. 

Topics: Media Agency, media buying, top southeast media buying agency

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