Mobile advertising 101: A guide for mobile advertising newbies


The mobile advertising market is huge. With $100 billion worth in revenue globally and growing double-digits year over year, one can assume this market is here to stay.

With that in mind, Revmob came up with this comprehensive (and pretty straightforward) glossary to help you if you are just starting to navigate in this market and don’t want to be an outsider. Have fun!

ps: write us back if you think there are any relevant definitions missing!

Ad Network is a company responsible for connecting publishers (the supply) with advertisers (the demand) in one marketplace. The ad network might have direct relationships with both parties or might work with intermediates on one or both sides as well.

Ad Units are the available formats of ads that can be displayed within an app/website.  There are several different ad units. Banners, interstitials, videos and pop-ups are just a few of them.

Advertiser is the company looking to promote its products, services and/or its brands. In the mobile ad business, the advertiser is also referred as the demand side, since it is the party willing to buy ad space from publishers to place his advertisements inside apps/sites.

Audience Targeting is the use of behavioral data to display more relevant ads to the user. The collected data allows the creation of specific profiles and categories, that later will be used by the advertisers to target the type of customers they want.

Banner is one of the most common and old fashioned ad units. Usually it is a small image located in the footer or header of the screen that redirects the user to a landing page.

Blacklist is a list of targeting setups where you know you don’t want your ads to run on. It works for both publishers and advertisers. The first might want to choose which advertisers or offers it refuses to run inside his app/site while the latter might want to specify particular apps or devices where it doesn’t want its ads to be displayed.

Branding campaign is a campaign that aims to promote the name and/or logo of its brand. Good examples of branding campaigns are those seen in the television, the radio and in outdoor banners. These campaigns are not performance-based as the advertiser doesn’t have a 100% measurable KPI she wants to achieve.

Click through rate (CTR) is the ratio between the number of clicks and the number of impressions of a campaign. A campaign with 1,000 impressions and 100 clicks has a CTR of 10%. The more attractive for the user the campaign creative is, the higher the CTR.

Click URL is the URL to where a user is redirected after he clicks on an ad.

Conversion Rate (CVR) is the ratio between the number of installs and the number of clicks of a campaign. A campaign with 1,000 clicks and 10 installs has a CVR of 1%. The CVR gives you an idea of how interested users are in the advertised campaign. Some people might refer to CVR as Install Rate (IR).

Cost-per-action (CPA) is a metric to measure the cost of the ad campaign based on the number of actions the users performed while inside the app/site. An example of action would be the completion of a tutorial inside an app.

Cost-per-click (CPC) is a metric to measure the cost of the ad campaign based on the number of clicks delivered. A campaign that spent $1,000 and received 100 clicks had a CPC of $10.

Cost-per-install (CPI) is a metric to measure the cost of the ad campaign based on the number of installs delivered. A campaign that spent $1,000 and had 100 installs had a CPI of $10.

Cost-per-lead (CPL) is a metric to measure the cost of the ad campaign based on the number of leads delivered. A campaign that spent $1,000 and generated 100 leads had a CPL of $10.  A lead generation usually occurs when the end user fills a form requested by the advertiser.

Cost-per-mille (CPM) is a metric to measure the cost of the ad campaign based on the number of impressions delivered. The total cost is calculated for every 1,000 impressions. A campaign that spent $10 and received 1,000 impressions had a CPM of $10.

Cost-per-order (CPO)  is a metric to measure the cost of the ad campaign based on the number of orders delivered. A campaign that spent $1,000 and delivered 100 orders had a CPO of $10.  An example of order would be the purchase of a t-shirt made by the end user inside an ecommerce app.

Cost-per-view (CPV) is a metric to measure the cost of the ad campaign based on the number of views delivered. It only applies to video campaigns. A campaign that spent $1,000 and generated 100 views had a CPV of $10. The concept and measurement of a view may vary from campaign to campaign and is usually defined by the advertiser.

Creative is the art material designed by the advertiser that the end user interacts with before being redirected to a landing page.

Device Fingerprinting is a tracking method used when the device ID is not available. It collects user’s information such as his device model, country code, IP address and carrier and builds an ID based on those variables. Although it is not as precise as the device ID (since it is not a unique identifier), it is the best alternative found by the industry for tracking purposes when there is no device ID available.

Device ID is a distinctive and unique number associated with any mobile device.

Effective Cost per Mille (eCPM) is calculated as the CPM after all the intermediation costs (charged by ad networks exchanges and/or others) are deducted. The eCPM is a metric used by the publisher to measure how effective he is monetizing his ad spaces. An ad campaign that has a CPM of $10 and intermediation costs of 50% yields an eCPM of $5 to the publisher.  

Frequency capping is the restriction of the number of times a specific user will be exposed to an ad, in order to avoid an annoying or repetitive ad to be recurrently closed by the user.

Fullscreen (or Interstitial) is an ad unit that, as the name suggests, covers the entire screen of the device. It usually has a very high CTR due to its more “aggressive” nature.

Geofencing is a software feature that uses GPS or RFID to define a virtual barrier. For mobile advertising, it can be used to trigger ads when a device enters or leaves a certain location.

Google Advertising ID (GAID)  is a unique identifier that allows mobile applications running on Google’s Android OS to gather data about specific customers in order to improve both personalization and consumer analytics.

Identifier for advertisers (IDFA)  is Apple’s equivalent of the GAID.

Impression is the event where a user is presented with an ad. When you see one ad popping up in your mobile device screen, whether you click on it or not, what just happened was an ad impression.

Incentivized traffic is the term used for users that receive any incentive to install the promoted app, such as virtual coins in a game the user is playing.

Insertion Order (IO) is a contract that contains all the specifications of a campaign. This document, provided by the advertiser/agency, authorizes the beginning of a campaign. It includes information such as the campaign length, its budget and targeting, among other specifications. The IO must be signed by both the advertiser/agency and the publisher.

Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is a non-profit institution focused on improving the effectiveness of interactive advertising and marketing. Its role is to incentivize the creation of rules and patterns to the planning, creation, buying and spreading of advertising.

Interstitial video is an ad unit that shows a regular video to the user. The user can close it at any time if he is not interested. It usually covers the entire screen of the device.

IP Address is a unique string of numbers that identifies each device using the internet protocol to communicate over a network. It can be considered as the device address in a network.

Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is an acronym for any metric created to measure operational performance. Some examples of KPI’s in the mobile advertising arena are: CPI, CPC, CPA, CPO, CVR and eCPM.

Log file is a file that records events such as impressions, clicks and installs. It normally has a timestamp associated with each event.

Marketing agency is an organization that, on behalf of its clients, plans and executes its marketing activities. This might include (but is not restricted to) running mobile advertising campaigns. In order to do that, the agency must have its own supply sources.

Non-incentivized traffic is the term used for users that don’t receive any incentive to download the promoted app. Non-incentivized traffic is usually associated with higher quality users.

Performance campaign differs from the branding campaign as it has clear and measurable performance KPIs that need to be achieved. Examples of KPIs are specific CPI targets, ROI or a tutorial completion within a game.

Personally identifiable information (PII) is any information that can be used to identify, contact or locate a person or even to identify someone in context. It includes specific information, like addresses, names and social security numbers, but also informations collected considering the using of the device by the user, such as his cookies and preferred habits while using the mobile device.  

Postback URL is the URL used by the advertiser to report back to its supply partner any action that he is tracking and wants its partner to be aware of. The action might be an install or any post-install event. This allows the supply partner to measure and keep track of its traffic performance as well as to optimize his campaigns.

Post Install Event (Or Downstream Event) is the action that a user performs after he installed the promoted app. This action might be reaching a certain level of a game, completing a tutorial, making a purchase or performing any other specific action inside the app.

Publisher is a content creator. Through his app/site, his ultimate goal is to provide relevant content in order to engage with his audience. In the mobile ad business, the publisher is sometimes referred as the supply side, as he is the one that sells ad space inside his app/site, where advertisements can be inserted.

Retargeting is a marketing strategy used by advertisers who want to re-engage with customers that were relevant in the past but are no longer active.

Return on Investment (ROI) is a metric that evaluates the efficiency of an ad campaign from a financial standpoint. It is usually calculated as the ratio between the revenue generated by the users acquired through the campaign and their acquisition cost.

Rewarded video is an ad unit that offers a reward for the user who chooses to watch the video. The video must be watched until its end. Rewards might be extra lives or coins inside a game, for example.

Supply-side platform or sell-side platform (SSP) is a system that allows publishers to manage their advertising space inventory and choose how they want to fill it. SSPs are designed to optimize the ad serving process in order to maximize the publisher’s eCPM and ad revenue.

Tracker (or Third-Party Tracking Service) is a company that tracks and attributes clicks, installs and post-install events of each running performance campaign of an advertiser, in order to help him understand the performance of each one of his supply partners.

User Profile (or Persona) is a technique that was created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way. Marketers may use personas together with market segmentation where the qualitative personas are constructed to be representative of specific segments.

Whitelist is a list of targeting setups where you know you want your ads to run on. It works for both publishers and advertisers. The first might want to choose which advertisers or offers it accepts to run inside its app/site while the latter might want to specify particular apps or device where it want its ads to be displayed.

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