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Digital Marketing Terms You Need to Know

Digital Marketing Terms You Need to Know

Digital marketing covers a wide range of topics and terms. Below are some digital marketing definitions that you need to know to have a well-rounded understanding of the topic.

Digital Advertising

Digital Advertising: The practice of using digital means, including online advertising, to deliver content to users. Digital marketing can take on several forms, many of which, in their best forms, integrate together to raise visibility for the advertiser, help attract customers, and improve conversions. 

Types of Digital Advertising 

Display: Display ads are graphic advertising placed on a website, apps, or social media either at the top, bottom, or side. They may show up as banner ads or in other formats like video, text, or flash images.. 

Programmatic Advertising: The use of software to buy digital advertising. Instead of human negotiation and quotes, programmatic buying uses machines to buy ad space.

Search SEM: SEM, or search engine marketing, is a paid tactic that helps increase the advertiser's visibility on search engine result pages for after consumer search for specific keywords. 

SEO: SEO, or search engine optimization, focuses on specific keywords to make a specific website appear higher in organic search results. SEO includes a number of tactics, including content production, the use of specific keywords on the website and specific pages, and building backlinks. 

Video: Video advertisements use video content to help engage users and attract their attention. Video ads may appear in banners, directly on the website, or in streaming services. Video advertisements may also be used directly on social media. 

Social: Many users rely on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to provide them with information about the brands and products they follow regularly. Social advertising can take the form of paid content, or paid advertisements that can be specifically targeted to users that fit a certain target demographic, or unpaid content that is posted directly on the advertiser's social media page. 

Email: Email marketing allows marketers to send content directly to users who have already signed up for their lists. Email marketing can deliver newsletters, updates, coupons and discounts, and other valuable content directly to consumers' inbox. Some brands also use email marketing to help automate many of their sales processes: emails are triggered when customers take a specific step, whether that's visiting the website or leaving items in their carts. Email marketing can also be used for prospecting: reaching out to new customers who are not in their database to drive them to take an action such as purchasing a product or service, downloading a whitepaper, signing up for a blog, or other goals.


Targeting: Targeting means narrowing down characteristics of a specific audience or showing content at a specific time of day or on a particular channel that the target audience is likely to use. Showing content to users who fit the advertiser's target audience

Geotargeting: Geotargeting is targeting based on a specific geographic location, based on information provided by the user, whether they're using a PC or mobile device. Geotargeting can break down users by zip code, city, state, or other specific geographic factors. It is particularly useful for small local businesses or businesses seeking to bring traffic to a physical store location. 

Demographics: Specific characteristics shared by members of the target audience, usually used to help segment campaigns. This includes known factors about a specific audience, including age, gender, household income, education level, and other attributes that set the business's specific customers or a specific segment of customers apart. 

Behavioral: Behavioral targeting uses consumer behaviors to segment audiences. This may include specific product websites they have visited as well as purchases, clicks, or media consumed. 

Contextual Keyword Targeting: Content targeting delivers ads specifically relevant to the content a user is searching for. It focuses on specific keywords or on general user search parameters. 

Retargeting: Due to the use of a pixel tag or code, collected when a user completes a particular action, marketers can retarget advertisements to users who have taken a specific action. For example, a consumer will be retargeted after visiting a  business's website for the first time.


Analytics: The process of evaluating and interpreting marketing data in order to understand its effectiveness, businesses return on investment, and to determine the best optimization options to improve the success of a digital campaign.

Impressions: Each time a user views a specific advertisement or other digital media. Impressions do not rely on an action from the viewer, but rather are counted based on the number of times that content appears on the user's screen. 

Clicks: Deliberate interactions taken on an ad using a mouse, pointer, or touchscreen device that takes a user through to a website

Click-Through Rate (CTR):  A metric that measures the number of clicks advertisers receive on their ads per number of impressions. This information is used when analyzing digital performance.

View Through Conversions: When a visitor is shown an online ad but does not click on it. The visitor later returns to that intended website and converts.

Return on Investment (ROI): A metric that evaluates the success of an investment. This is commonly calculated as the net profit divided by the cost of the original investment. 

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): The value of ad spend, calculated by dividing the profits attributed to a specific campaign by the cost of that campaign. 

Pricing Models

Cost Per Thousand (CPM): Cost per thousand, or cost per mille, is the cost per thousand views. 

CPC: Cost per click or cost for the number of times users click on an advertisement.

CPA: Cost per action: the cost for each time someone takes a specific action related to an ad. 


Creative: The advertising content created by a designer to express a specific marketing message to the business's audience. 

A/B Testing: The specific process of testing one type of content against another to create a more effective advertisement. A/B testing usually involves only a single unit at a time. 

Call to Action: The specific action language used in ad creative that the advertiser wants the user to take. 

Best Practices:  The advertising procedures or processes known to be most effective at reaching a specific goal.

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Jennifer Ravenscroft
Jennifer Ravenscroft
Jennifer Ravenscroft is a digital advertising sales leader with over 20 years in the SF Bay Area market. She has helped hundreds of clients better understand digital advertising customer journey to find the right marketing mix to solve their business challenges.

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