Sustainable Growth

Programmatic Advertising: Definitions & Glossary

For publishers, a comprehensive list of commonly used programmatic advertising terms and their definitions — RPM, RPS, CPM, fill rate, view-ability, and more.


Organic's Glossary of Programmatic Ads Definitions 

Helpful hint —> press <command F> on a Mac or <control F> on PC and search for the term on your mind. That way you can jump right to it.   

A —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "A" are below

Ad Block Feature

An ads feature that allows you, as the account administrator, to block some or all placement(s) based on URL path, Tag slug or Category slug.

Ad Exchange

What allows SSPs and DSPs to connect with each other. It is a neutral, autonomous platform that enables the entire buying and selling process via real-time auctions.

Ad Impression

An ad that has successfully loaded in an ad unit on the page. Each time an ad is fetched, it is counted as one impression. This is independent of whether it is viewed, clicked, etc.

Ad Impressions Per Pageview

This metric captures how many Ad Impressions are getting displayed per Pageview. This gives you a good sense of your overall ad load and has a direct impact on your user experience.

Ad Network

Bundles inventory from different publishers and offers them for sale. The most prominent example is Google AdWords.

Ad Request

An Ad Request is counted whenever your site requests ads to be displayed, even if no ads are returned.

Ad Server

Ad Servers are responsible for quickly (within milliseconds) deciding which ads to display on a website, then serving them. Additionally, they collect and report data (e.g. impressions, clicks, etc.) to give publishers and advertisers insights and track the performance of their ads. Google has previously defined this simply as “a platform that serves ads”


Ads.txt is the abbreviation for Authorized Digital Seller, not Advertising or Ads.
The ads.txt Specification was developed in 2017 by the IAB Tech Lab, the digital advertising technical standards-setting body. The Version 1.1 (latest) was released in August 2022. The ads.txt specification focuses on protecting advertising inventory hosted by the website publishing the ads.txt file by allowing publishers to publicly and transparently declare who is authorized to sell their inventory.

Ad Tag

Typically served as javascript connecting a website to an Ad Server, an ad tag allows a website to communicate with one or more ad partners and serve an appropriate ad. In a way, they are placeholders for ad creatives.

Ad Unit

Ad Units are containers you place in your websites that are filled by ads to show ads to users. There are many type(s), such as display, video, or native; and different format(s) associated with them. The format used is generally width x height in pixels (e.g. 300x250), but can sometimes be “fluid” or dynamic.

Agency Trade Desk

Also referred to as ATD. Group of individuals that buy media programmatically on behalf of brands. ATDs often use multiple DSP platforms to purchase inventory.


An application programming interface (API) is a way for two or more computer programs to communicate with each other. It is a type of software interface, offering a service to other pieces of software.


Above The Fold. 
­​Any part of a website that a user can view without having to scroll down. Viewable by default.

Auction Price Floor​

This is the same idea as a standard price floor but in an auction or programmatic environment the floor serves as a minimum but can be exceeded by higher bidding. For example if you set your price floor at $1 you can still receive bids at $1.25 but not $.75. In this context, it applies to all ad partners or campaigns in the auction as a whole.

B —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "B" are below


A bid is the maximum amount of money an advertiser is willing to pay for each Ad Impression (or sometimes click) on an advertisement.

Bid Response

A Bid Response occurs in real-time bidding environments. A DSP platform will respond to a bid request signal sent out by an SSP with a price, and possibly creative specs.

Bid Response Rates

How often a DSP responds with a bid vs. no bid. Because of server infrastructure costs, and to reduce the risk of partners capturing audience data without spending money, SSPs will throttle/filter requests to DSPs if they are less likely to participate in an auction.

Bid Rejection Reason

Reason a bid lost or did not participate in the auction.

Bid Request

A Bid Request occurs in real-time bidding environments. A SSP platform will send a signal out to a DSP indicating that they have an impression for sale, along with the details about that impression.

Bounce Rate

A Bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Google Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.
Bounce rate is single-page sessions divided by all sessions, or the percentage of all sessions on your site in which users viewed only a single page and triggered only a single request to the Analytics server.


Breakpoints, refer to CSS Breakpoints, which are points where the website content responds according to the device width, allowing you to show the best possible layout to the user. CSS breakpoints are also called media query breakpoints, as they are used with media query. You can use them to define different types of ad experience as well and are key to always providing the best UX to your readers.


Below the fold. The portion of the website that is not viewable without scrolling.

C —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "C" are below


A temporary store of data collected by your Internet browser as you surf the web, including elements from web pages that you frequently visit.


Cachebuster is usually a macro that ensures that a fresh call is made to the ad server every time the code is executed, so you can count impressions accurately. If you don't add the cache-busting macro to creative code, you’re more likely to see impression counting discrepancies between Google Ad Manager and a third-party ad server. Note that not all third parties require the cachebuster macro.


California Consumer Privacy Act, introduced January 3, 2018


Channels represent the three main buckets an ad impression will fall into. Header bidding (All SSPs and Amazon TAM/UAM), Google Programmatic (Open Bidding, Ad Exchange, Programmatic Direct (including Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals)), Google Non-Programmatic (House Ads, Direct-Sold…).

Client-side Header Bidding

Client-side Header Bidding is a type of header bidding where the auction happens on the user’s browser. The browser will send the requests to the SSPs and then send an additional request to the ad server where the highest bid from the header bidding auction will compete with the server side channels.


CLS is a measure of the largest burst of layout shift scores for every unexpected layout shift that occurs during the entire lifespan of a page. A layout shift occurs any time a visible element changes its position from one rendered frame to the next. 


A Consent Management Platform (CMP) is a technology platform that helps website operators comply with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy laws around the world. In the US, implementation of such measures varies by state, with seven states anticipated to have something in place by 2023. CMPs allow users to control their data and privacy settings, such as opting out of data collection and third-party sharing.


This is when  a user completes an action in response to an ad they saw on the publisher's web page. This could involve purchasing an item or signing up for something, it all depends on what was the purpose of the campaign.


Cost Per Action or Cost Per Acquisition, is a metric that measures how much it costs to generate an action through advertising. For the Advertisers on this type of campaign, they only pay when they receive some value (e.g., a new signup or a purchase). For the Publisher that accepts these campaigns, they only get paid when they direct users to the Advertiser that will complete the action. This requires that the publisher be very aware of and comfortable in the alignment of their own audience and the Advertisers needs, and generally is a very deep relationship between the two ends of the deal flow.


Cost Per Click is the amount paid every time someone clicks on an advertisement.


Cost Per Mille is the amount paid for every 1,000 qualifying impressions served. Mille coming from Latin for one thousand. This is the most common payment structure in programmatic advertising since it removes the knowledge risk from the publisher and they can consistently value their audience and traffic. Generally as a trade off the value of CPM deals are lower, and the Advertiser or the SSPs and DSPs and Agencies in the middle take a share of the transaction as they absorb the risk of optimizing targeting.


The price for one video play when a predefined minimum video viewing time is reached. Other possible billing models for videos include Cost Per Completed View (CPCV; paid only when the video is viewed through to completion) and Cost Per Video Viewability (CPVV, paid only if the video is visible; the IAB standard is 50% of the number of pixels visible for at least 2 consecutive seconds).


Refers to the visual components of the ad.


Content Security Policy


Cascading Style Sheets is a style sheet language used for describing the presentation of a document written in a markup language such as HTML. In a nutshell, that’s what defines the layout, the colors and the fonts that you are using on your pages.


Click Through Rate is the number of clicks that your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown.

D —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "D" are below


Mobile, Tablet, Desktop

Demand Partner

All ad revenue has to come from somewhere. That somewhere, in Organic Ads, is a Demand Partner. A Demand Partner (also called a bidder) is a business entity that wants to spend money to show their ads. 


Ad Discrepancy is a difference in metric calculations between the sell and the buy-side at the end of the reporting period. These differences are caused by a variety of factors including the number of partners you’re working with, the individual user you’re serving ads to, and page load time. The most frequent discrepancy metrics are impressions sold, served, and revenue.


DoubleClick for Publishers, DFP was rebranded as Google Ad Manager(GAM) several years ago, it is often still referred to as DFP within the ad tech industry.


DMPs are technology platforms that collect and organize audience data from multiple sources. This allows advertisers to run ads against these audiences, making DMPs an important link between advertisers and Demand Side Platforms (DSPs).


Daily Recurring Revenue


DSPs are an interface for marketers to purchase ads programmatically. DSPs connect to multiple exchanges, allowing their clients (agencies and advertisers) to find maximum reach and scale. Additionally, they connect to other technology platforms that enable more advanced targeting, measurement, and creative solutions for advertisers.

E —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "E" are below


Effective Cost Per Mille. 
Revenue/Paid Impressions *1000

F —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "F" are below

Fill Rate

Fill rate is defined as the number of ads served divided by the total number of ads requested Impressions / Ad Requests

First-party Data

First-party Data is information a company collects directly from its customers and owns. First-party data (also known as 1P data) is part of the mosaic of data marketers have at their disposal. It can complement, enhance, and reduce the need for other types of data (2nd and 3rd party data).

First Price Auction

The winner of the bidding contest for an ad impression pays the price actually offered.

Fixed CPM

​A CPM rate that remains constant and is guaranteed by an ad partner for every 1,000 impressions that are sent.


Lifetime of a campaign; how long a campaign runs on a site.

Frequency Cap

­An established limit to the number of times an ad campaign, tag, or ad size can be shown to an individual user.

G —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "G" are below

Google Ad Manager

General Data Protection Regulation

Showing certain campaigns to certain users based on what geographic location the user is located. This is helpful when working with an advertiser looking to reach a specific part of the world, country, state, city, or town.

Google Publisher Tag

A GUID (globally unique identifier)

H —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "H" are below

Header Bidding
Header bidding, also known as pre-bidding or prebid is an evolution of RTB and emerged to address the waterfall bidding model inefficiencies (and the shift from Direct to Programmatic buying) by offering ad space simultaneously to multiple ad networks and ad exchanges and became an industry standard around 2014.Nowadays you’ll find two ways of running header bidding: client-side and server-side.

I —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "I" are below

(Interactive Advertising Bureau) The IAB is made up of over 500 leading media and technology companies and works to educate about the value of interactive advertising as well as evaluate and recommend standards and practices (such as standard unit size).

An HTML document embedded within another HTML document that allows content from another source to appear on a web page.

Space on a publisher's web page where an ad can be displayed.

Invalid traffic is the technical term for advertising impressions generated by bots or any form of nonhuman traffic. IVT is often conflated with ad fraud, but not all invalid traffic is malicious. Still, detecting all forms of IVT is essential to protecting ad spend and ensuring impressions are valid and viewable.

L —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "L" are below

Lazy Loading
Lazy loading enables pages to load faster, reduces resource consumption and contention, and improves viewability rate by pausing the requesting and rendering of ads until they approach the user's viewport.

Lazy Load offset
Lazy loading is using what we are calling an offset to detect when one of the Ad Unit will soon be within the viewport. By adjusting the offset you can adjust how aggressive the Lazy Loading will be and therefore optimize the performances of your stack. 

The percent increase in performance that can be attributed to advertising.

Line Item
Line Items contain information about how specific ad creatives are intended to serve your website or app along with pricing and other delivery details. Line items are added to orders and contain details like: The number of times your advertiser or buyer wants an ad creative to serve. They are associated with a type and priority which are a starting point to determine how a line item competes with other line items, yield groups, and Ad Exchange for impressions.

M —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "M" are below

With Multiple Customer Management (MCM), Ad Manager publishers can earn revenue with the help of third-party providers who can consult, represent, and manage networks or inventory on their behalf. Which creates “a parent-child relationship”. 

Media Rating Council is a United States-based nonprofit organization that manages accreditation for media research and rating purposes. It is an independent body who audits and accredits media measurement products and data sources across Digital, Out-of-Home, Print, Radio, Television, and cross-media products.

N-P —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "N-P" are below

Native Ads
Native Ads aim to take on the format or tone of the website they show on, with the goal of a seamless user experience. Responsive ads may show in image or text formats.

­​An order is a primary component of your ad campaign and comprises high-level information to help you get your campaign up and running. Orders help keep your ad server sorted and organized.

Private Auction

Page Load Time
Page Load Time : The average amount of time (in seconds) it takes that page to load, from initiation of the pageview (e.g., click on a page link) to load completion in the browser.

A Pageview (or pageview hit, page tracking hit) is an instance of a page being loaded (or reloaded) in a browser. Pageviews is a metric defined as the total number of pages viewed.

Preferred Deal
A Preferred Deal is an agreement between a publisher and an advertiser that provides the advertiser with a first look at the publisher's inventory before it is auctioned in the open market. This preferential access provided to an advertiser is in exchange for a fixed CPM, but this does not guarantee that the advertiser will always participate and bid on the inventory available. This is why a Preferred Deal is also called Programmatic Non-Guaranteed.

Programmatic Guaranteed
Programmatic guaranteed (PG) enables a programmatic buyer to device ID or cookie match an audience with a publisher and pre-agree to buy at a fixed price so long as the publisher sends the correct ID on their bid request via supply-side platform or exchange.

Placements in Organic Ads are a combination of format, specific sections of a site and device.

Placement Type
Placement types categorize placements depending on the ad experience they’re providing: Display, Video, Modal, Pop-Under…

Private MarketPlace
Commonly referred to as a PMP or Private Auctions, a Private Marketplace is a real-time auction of a publisher's inventory with a select number of advertisers in an invite-only auction.

Prebid.js is the most widely used header bidding “container” or “wrapper” on the web. 

Prebid Timeouts
Header bidding needs some time to collect bids. Publishers update their pages to delay the ad server call for just long enough to get bids, but not so long as to reduce overall revenue. This delay is controlled by a number of timeouts and adjustments. More details here.

Price Floor​
A fixed CPM rate that prevents an ad partner from serving campaigns that pay below a certain price threshold. For example, if you set your price floor to $1, your ad partner shouldn’t serve any campaigns with net CPM rates below that amount. This generally applies to a single advertising partner or a single campaign, but in some contexts may also apply to the entire auction (see Auction Price Floor).

Ad pixels are snippets of code that can be implemented on a website to collect data. In most cases, there are two types of options you can choose from when generating a pixel code. 1x1 image pixel or Javascript tag. 

R —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "R" are below

Refresh Count
Refresh Count is an integer going from 0 to # for each refresh

Refresh Rate
Refresh Rate is the frequency at which ads are requested from the SSP and re-served within the same ad unit. Refresh rate is important because it can affect how often an ad is seen by a user and how many impressions are available to be served.
Organic Ads refresh rate is set to 30 seconds by default (which is Google Ad Manager default as well)

Revenue Source
A Revenue Source represents the connection we have with third parties to gather revenue data. (e.g. Connatix, GAM…)

Rich Media
Rich media is a digital advertising term for an ad that includes advanced features like video, audio, or other elements that encourage viewers to interact and engage with the content.

Or Takeover is where all ads on a page are sold together to one buyer. The ads must be delivered together, however, they are not necessarily on a sponsorship basis, so don't have to remain on the page all the time.

­Revenue Per Mille or Revenue per thousand impressions 
(Revenue / Pageviews) x 1000

Revenue Per thousand sessions 
(Revenue / Sessions) x 1000

(Real Time Bidding) ­​Impression-based, real-time ad inventory sales method. This is a technology that allows thousands of buyers to bid on a single website impression based on bidding algorithms. The trader who is willing to pay the highest price wins the auction and their brand's ad is served.

S —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "S" are below

In web development, selectors are used to identify specific elements on the page so that they can be targeted with styles or manipulated with JavaScript. Selectors can be based on element type, class, or ID. Organic Ads is leveraging Selectors to inject Ads into the page. More details here.

Sellers. json is an IAB provided standard to allow buyers to discover and verify the entities who are either direct sellers of or intermediaries in the selected digital advertising opportunity for purchase. This includes verifying publisher identities, including the name, domain name, and seller ID.

Server-side Header Bidding
The server-side header bidding has a similar concept but instead of sending many ad requests and holding auctions in the user’s browser, the user sends a single request to the server which sends out many requests to SSPs and holds the auction on the server side. Server-side header bidding will provide smoother user experience, less latency and the capacity of running more demand partners but doesn’t provide cookie matching and therefore is often utilized as an addition rather than a replacement. Server-side is also the go-to solution when it comes to Mobile Apps or AMP for example. Amazon TAM/UAM and Google Open Bidding (OB) are server-side header bidding mechanisms that we are leveraging with Organic Ads.

A session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. For example a single session can contain multiple page views, events, social interactions, and ecommerce transactions. In Google standard, by default, a session lasts until there's 30 minutes of inactivity.

Session Duration
The average session duration is the average length of a session in a particular time period. 
total session duration / total sessions

An SPA (Single-page application) is a web app implementation that loads only a single web document, and then updates the body content of that single document via JavaScript APIs.

(Supply Path Optimization) Optimizing the supply path of the advertiser to the publisher. Reducing as many middle men as possible and putting the most amount of money in a publisher's pocket.

Single Request Architecture is when a single request is sent to Google Ad Manager (GAM) with all of the ad requests (that have been defined, displayed, and refreshed) grouped together in one single request.

(Supply-Side Platforms) SSPs collaborate with multiple publishers to help them generate revenue from their available ad inventory. SSPs primarily serve Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs), which work with agencies and advertisers.

CMS tags are small keywords that you attach to your content that act like labels to tell your website browsers what it's about.

TAM stands for Transparent Ad Marketplace: Publishers or Network (as Organic) signs contracts directly with each SSP and also with Amazon, in that case Amazon is only the server-to-server header bidding solution. This is why, in general, Publishers with a certain size will tend to use TAM rather than UAM.

Ad targeting is a practice that intends to get ads in front of people with specific characteristics (geographic location, gender etc) or behaviors.

T-Z —> programmatic advertising definitions that start with "T-Z" are below

Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF).
The TCF’s simple objective is to help all parties in the digital advertising chain ensure that they comply with the EU’s GDPR and ePrivacy Directive when processing personal data or accessing and/or storing information on a user’s device, such as cookies, advertising identifiers, device identifiers and other tracking technologies.

Tech Tax
A term for the third-party costs incurred by the use of the many technological solutions and aids for programmatic booking. A booking may use a SSP, Ad Exchange, DSP, DMP and Agency Trading Desk.

Third-party Data
Data sets collected and managed by organizations that do not directly interact with customers or the business data consumer.

UAM stands for Unified Ad Marketplace: Publishers or Network (as Organic) signs one contract with Amazon and Amazon signs contracts with SSPs, which then simplifies the billing (Amazon combines earnings) and gives access to SSPs you might normally not have access to because of your size, your type of content etc. UAM is coming with its own limitations, like they will only support certain types of sizes for example.

Unfilled Impressions
An unfilled impression, or blank ad, is an ad request that didn't return an ad because none were eligible to serve.

­​A visitor on a web page for the first time over the course of audience measurement (typically day, week, month, year).

Digital Video Ad Serving Template (VAST). VAST is used to send in-stream ad details to a media player. VAST 4.x includes support for high-quality video formats necessary for long-form video content and server-side tracking for use when ad-stitching is leveraged to reach devices that cannot use client-side tracking methods. Version 4.x also allows embedding optional scripts for viewability and ad verification. The latest version of VAST, v4.3, was released at the end of 2022.

An impression is considered a viewable impression when it has appeared within a user’s browser and had the opportunity to be seen. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines a viewable impression as an ad that meets the following criteria:
For ads, 50% of the ad’s pixels are visible in the browser window for a continuous 1 second. For larger ads, 30% of the ad’s pixels are visible in the browser window.
For in-stream video ads, 50% of the ad’s pixels must be visible in the browser window for a continuous 2 seconds (Viewable Impressions ∕ Measurable Impressions) × 100

The browser's viewport is the area of the window in which web content can be seen. This is often not the same size as the rendered page, in which case the browser provides scrollbars for the user to scroll around and access all the content.

​Refers to how much traffic (impressions/pageviews) a website has over a given period of time. Ad partners will often ask how much volume a publisher is able to provide.

VPAID stands for Video Player-Ad Interface Definition and was defined by IAB. 
VPAID is a common interface between video players and ad units, enabling a rich interactive in-stream ad experience. VPAID has been deprecated as of VAST 4.1 and is being replaced by Open Measurement Interface Definition (OMID) and Secure Interactive Media Interface Definition (SIMID).