Marketing Glossary

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We hope you find our glossary of marketing terms, jargon and buzzwords (some old and some new) useful.

Stands for Audit Bureau of Circulations – a body which provides an independently audited circulation figure for any paid for publication – newspapers or magazines usually. For example if the Daily Bugle declares an ABC circulation of 123,456 it’s the actual figure and not some figure picked out of the air by publishers.

When you click on a website, any information/words/images you can see without touching your mouse is above-the-fold. Anything else that pops up or appears when you scroll about the page isn’t.

An industry term that historically referred to any kind of advertising which is commission based. This usually means broadcast, print and outdoor. It can take many forms but a great deal of above-the-line features engaging/glossy/seductive/humorous/clever images that burn the brand into the consumer’s brain. Not literally of course! (Also see Below-the-line).

A/B Split
Also called a ‘copy split’. A publication (newspaper, magazine etc.) runs two separate creative treatments of an advert in the same issue. Useful for testing responsiveness of different propositions.

Account Handler
Person employed by a communications agency to handle a piece of business. They are the bridge between client and agency and should have an innate understanding of the client’s marketing needs yet also able to defend and sell the agency’s work to the client.

Acquisition Cost
The advertising cost of obtaining a customer or sales enquiry (the total amount of money spent on an advertising campaign divided by the number of responses you receive).

Active File
A new media term used to describe any file that is being used by someone else. Until they’ve finished and closed the file, you’ll have to wait your turn to access the file.

Purists argue that advert is a promotional idea confined to certain formats (web, press, TV, radio, outdoor etc.). But it can be argued that anything designed to sell or promote a service or product is an advert of sorts.

Ad Blocking
No amount of cyber-speak can obscure what this new media term is all about. You download a file. You filter out online ads. You stop said ads popping up on your screen.

Google Adwords is the brand name for Google’s popular pay-per-click advertising (see PPC).

Any materials designed to promote a company’s service, products, brand, message etc.

Advertising Awareness
“Did you see that ad with the meerkat in it? Really funny, but can’t remember what it was for?” How aware of particular adverts are you actually? And if you are, do you remember the brand the advert was promoting? Ad awareness is a contentious subject – some marketers believe it can be used to gauge effectiveness whilst others don’t.

Advertising Recall
How much of an ad you actually remember? This term refers to the specific images used and the messages the advert was trying to convey.

Ad Van
Ad plus van equals ad van. The mobile publicity medium that started initially with a Toblerone shaped ad on the back and which has now progressed to digital screens.

Average Issue Readership. The number of people who claim to have read or looked at a publication in the last issue period.

ALT Text
Alternative text that appear on a computer screen when non-text elements (i.e. images, graphics, animations etc.) cannot be displayed.

Refers to any kind of adverts that employ unconventional means with traditional media options. The more appropriate to your message the better.

A Linux-based operating system for mobile devises such as smartphones and tablet computers.

Animated GIF
A graphic element that creates the ‘effect’ of animation by rotating through a series of static images.

Short for mobile application; an app is software designed to be downloaded to a portable device such as a smartphone, for free or at a price, providing help, information or entertainment to users.

Art Director
One half of the creative team. In simplistic terms, the Art Director is the one who does the pictures – typically on an Apple Mac – and leaves the words to the other part of the team (see copywriter).

Advertising Standards Authority

A term used to mean consumer’s set of knowledge, opinions and feelings a brand, product, service or company which can suggest how likely they are to buy/respond/like.

Augmented Reality
A relatively new development, (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. A good example of the application and effect can be experienced at

Average Rating
Count up all the times (spots) your ad is shown. Then divide this number by the number of ratings (how many people watched it). The number left is your ad’s average rating.

Broadcasting Advertising Clearance Centre. They decide whether a TV advert can be shown to the public.

Banner Ad
A web ad typically featuring animated graphics and text available in various sizes and positions.

Banner Blindness
The fallout from proliferation of banner ads is that website visitors tend to ignore them. And that’s even when the banner ads contain the information they are looking for. Typical reasons for this are on-screen clutter and poorly designed banner ads.

British Direct Marketing Association. The association that represents direct mail companies or producers, consultants and clients using any direct marketing activity (not just direct mail).

Opposite to above-the-Line (see under A). Convenient marketing terms referring to any advertising media considered to be more about promotion than brand – direct mail, sales promotion, leaflets, brochures, displays and other materials.

Comparing business performance with others -, with a standard or benchmark; used as a gauge for success or quality.

Theoretically the amount of client monies controlled by an ad agency.

If you’re running a colour full page ad in the press, you can technically have an idea with an image that runs right to the edge of the page. It’s called a full-bleed ad.

Derived from the term ‘web log’, a blog is a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal views, interests, experiences and hobbies.

Refers to a small but dynamic no holds barred creative agency.

Getting a group of people together to talk and blurt out the first thing that comes into your head. The theory is that if enough people do it for long enough, you’ll ‘crack’ the idea.

Fundamentally brands exist or are devised, built and nurtured to differentiate between competing but similar products or services. Brand meanings can be tangible (real characteristics and attributes) or intangible (emotional/symbolic).

Brand Audit
The purpose of carrying out a brand audit is to fully understand a particular brand’s DNA i.e. the very essence of what makes a brand what is and as importantly, what it needs to be in order to be attractive in the market place.

Brand Equity
The financial worth of the brand to the bottom line profits.

Brand Essence
The core values that define a brand. These remain constant over time even if the executional characteristics of things like packaging, advertising (and other marketing expressions) may change.

Brand image
The total impression created in your mind by a brand through all its functional and emotional associations.

Brand Personality
The fundamental core values and characteristics of the brand personified.

Brand Positioning
Compass points and parameters used by the brand to define its territory compared to competitors. These ‘markers’ can be described in down-to-earth terms such as target market (for whom), key competitors (against whom) and specific consumer benefits (why, when or for what).

Brand Proposition
A simple sentence or phrase that encapsulates the brand benefit.

Business Reply Envelope. A pre-addressed envelope to be returned to the mailer – no stamp required. The mailer pays postage only on the envelopes returned.

The brief – clear instructions of what the client wants as a campaign.

How much the client is prepared to spend on a particular marketing campaign.

Business Reply Service
Licence issued by the Post Office to use business reply services (see BRE).

Direct communication from one business to another. Business-to-business is also called B2B or B/B.

By-lined Article
An article in a written publication (newspaper or magazine) that credits the writer by showing their name and often their photograph.

As an Internet user you frequent a site dedicated to meerkats. The site or ‘file’ is copied to a temporary location – the cache – so you can access it quickly when you need the latest update on the progress of your favourite community of furry creatures. That’s caching.

Call to action
A call to action or CTA is an informal term relating to a marketing/sales message (text or graphic) that is designed to elicit a response from the viewer.

Once you’ve had your idea, you need to express it across a variety of complementary and supporting media e.g. PR, web, advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion etc. The result is what’s called an integrated ‘campaign’.

Chartered Institute of Marketing

The classifieds, small seemingly unimpressive ads at the back of the paper, cheap and sometimes effective.

Online ads when clicked on take you through to the advertiser’s website. This is called a click-through.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)
Each time your online ad appears it is called an ‘impression’. The average number of click-throughs per hundred ad impressions expressed as a percentage is your CTR.

The people who pay you money to work for them! Why we get up in the morning.

Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and data are accessible to computers and other devices on demand.

A direct marketing term used to describe a group of people or terms with an affinity e.g. a group of people who are all coffee lovers but only like drinking it in the morning can be clustered together.

Cluster Analysis
The mathematical technique for grouping data into clusters with similar characteristics.

A Content Management System or CMS is a user friendly system that allows website administrators to quickly and easily edit text and images, upload files, insert links, add new pages and generally manage the content on their website. Typically accessed via secure logins, they offer a way for non-techy users to keep their website up- to-date without having to involve their web developer.

The idea behind the campaign.

People who buy your goods and services.

If you click on a website, the site stores information on your own computer which allows it to remember your preferences when you next visit the site. Convenient or devious?

Copy Date
The date set by a publication (newspaper or magazine) when the copy (words or artwork) for an ad is required to reach them.

The person who provides the words to an advert.

Cost Per Thousand (CPT)
The accepted industry measure for assessing the efficiency of an ad in any medium (press, TV, DM etc.) So if say an ad reaches 500,000 adults and costs £10,000 the CPT adults will be £20.

In advertising, ‘cover’ refers to the number/percentage of people within a target audience who see or hear your advertisement. (Or, more precisely, have the opportunity to see or hear your advertisement – also see OTS and OTH). In PR, it’s the amount of coverage achieved in the media.

Customer Relationship Management (CMS), is a strategy/software that enables a company to both organise and optimise its customer relations.

CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility (AKA Corporate Conscience, Corporate Citizenship, Social Performance, or Sustainable Responsible Business/Responsible Business) is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, moral integrity and international norms. See for Savvy’s.

Customer Profiling Analysis
A way to get to know your customers and target marketing better, using analysis of geo-demographics (see G) and customer records.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys
As area of research that attempts to assess the quality of service offered by a company or organisation. By doing so, it’s possible to define consumer perceptions of that company’s brands or services.

Newspaper cuttings taken by PR people – the articles chosen usually being stories or features ‘planted’ by the very same PR people. These cuttings are used as case studies for future reference and potential clients.

Design and Art Direction Club. This revered creative organisation founded in 1953 – holds an annual awards ceremony celebrating the world’s best creative work. The best of the best get big black or yellow pencils. The other really good stuff is featured in the D&AD annual.

Data Capture
Capturing the contact details of your customers and potential customers, what products/services they are interested in, geographic location.

Data Element
Individual piece of information pertaining to a customer or potential customer – initial, birthplace etc.

A collection of records retained permanently on a computer and constantly updated. Data may also be added from other sources. E.g. questionnaires, surveys, telemarketing reports etc.

Latest date for delivery of a piece of work.

A statistical study of the human population and its breakdown into social groups defined by income, job and lifestyle. Used throughout marketing but most prominently in research/planning and DM.

Depth Interview
Research team referring to one-on-one interview of an informal nature. A depth interview is used to gain a more in-depth understanding of a person/consumer’s attitudes and motivation.

The most successful design is all about style and content working in perfect harmony. Unfortunately many clients do not understand the value of good design. A constant challenge for agencies and creatives.

Desk/Desktop Research
Research carried out at your desk by examining printed publications or using the internet. Simple as that!

Die Cutter
A device often used in the creation of direct mail pieces such as capacity folders and the like. It’s a cutter which is specially shaped to punch out paper or card into irregular shapes.

Die Stamping
A type of printing where the characters (numbers and letters etc.) are raised. Also known as ‘embossing’.

Digital Print
Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital based image directly to a variety of media (as opposed to Lithographic printing). Typically used for lower budget/quality and short run print jobs.

Direct Mail
Also known as DM. Mail sent to advertise goods or services. Direct Marketing allows you to target individual customers more effectively and make them respond. Modern printing techniques (see digital print) allows for high levels of personalisation making DM even more effective and useful.

Direct Mailshot
A single direct mail piece (as opposed to a series or campaign featuring a ‘multiple hit’ DM idea).

Direct Response
As the term suggests, direct response (DR) advertising is designed to offer the consumer a chance to respond to your promotional message. This normally takes the form of a telephone number or web address prominently displayed. DR ads on TV (see DRTV) are structured around the response mechanism.

Direct Response List
A list of known responders to direct marketing solicitations. This list may include those who have responded but have not bought.

‘Discovery meetings’ are a method by which marketers get under the skin of a brand in order to gain an in-depth understanding of a client’s business, corporate objectives and marketing priorities using a mixture of informal discussion and formal questioning involving processes such as SWOT and PEST analysis.

Street-by-street delivery of unaddressed advertising material through letterboxes.

Stands for double page spread. A DPS is an ad or piece of editorial across two pages of a magazine or newspaper.

A part payment to account or agreed stage in a work programme. That roughly translates as an amount of money to be paid to the agency from their final fee in advance.

General marketing term used to describe volume and regularity of communication with a customer. Little by little over the long term – as opposed to a huge deluge at the beginning and then a drought.

Direct Response Television. DRTV is an advert built around a response mechanism such as a phone number or website address. Whatever the product or service being promoted, the response device has to feature strongly.

Probably the most significant communication discovery since the telephone.

Email Marketing
When you’re not being emailed pictures of meerkats or jokes about shoplifting chefs, bankers or the French, your in-box is usually fair game for e-marketers. It’s the power of email harnessed for advertising purposes through ‘viral’ ads (see under v) or the annoying email spam.

Also known as online PR, this involves communications using the internet and digital technologies such as Podcasts and online video to communicate with client stakeholders and deliver an organisations key messages in a highly engaging and effective way.

Working out just exactly how effective a piece of marketing/communication work has been. This can be done qualitatively or quantitatively.

Currently the largest social network on the internet, built on the concept of friend-to-friend connections. Facebook allows users to create an online profile that displays their interests, work information, photos, videos, status updates, and more.

Facing Matter
An advertisement position facing an editorial page – which is a pretty prominent and sought after place to be.

A group of ‘data elements’ (see under D) that together create a logical string of info e.g. an address.

General term used in research to refer to interaction of any sort (interviews, focus groups etc.) with consumers, customers or other stakeholders (e.g. employees, opinion formers, shareholders).

Multi-media technology developed by web technology company, Macromedia. Flash allows you to fit much on screen graphic interactively into a relatively small file size.

Focus Group
The focus group is a research technique where a group of consumers, lead by a facilitator, discuss a product, service or market. The idea is to collect a broad cross section of opinions and gain an insight and understanding of the consumers motivation or viewpoint.

The physical specification of a printed product including size, number of pages, where to fold and so on.

On line community where users read and post topics of common interest.

Media terms used in both advertising and DM – referring to the number of times the consumer is likely to see your advert.

Full colour
4 colour printing process – cyan, magenta, yellow and black.

Full service
Today means an agency that has the talent, experience and resources under one roof to carry out almost any project a client might want.

Analysis of people according to where they live based on information derived from census data. Fuses together geographical data with information on sex, age, socio-economic group and location.

A widely used search engine that uses text-matching techniques to find web pages that are important and relevant to a user’s search.

Refers to the act of clicking onto a website – the more hits site gets the more popular the site is the general rule!

Home page
The opening page of a website when a company URL is typed in.

Hyper text mark-up language.

HTML banner
An online banner ad using HTML elements often including interactive forms instead of standard graphic elements.

The thing that underpins every marketing strategy – some are good, some bad, some brilliant!

Free gift offered to consumers to encourage purchase/response.

Institute of Public Relations.

Java Script
An on line scripting/programming language. Used to create interactive websites.

Key messages
The highest-level strategic communication points that reinforce positioning statements.

Lead generation
Any marketing device that invites the consumer to enquire for more information.

Any web address featured on a web-site that when clicked takes you through to another website with relevant and useful content to the one you are on.

A highly popular business-oriented social networking site used by business professionals to create a career profile and link up with colleagues, clients, vendors, suppliers and other business contacts.

Link Building
This is the process of establishing relevant, inbound links to a website helping it achieve higher ranking with the major search engines and drive targeted traffic to that site.

When the links to a website no longer work – may have been moved or deleted but they aren’t there anymore.

Long Tail
Long tail is when sales are made for goods not commonly sold. These goods can return a profit through reduced marketing and distribution costs.

Manchester Digital
Manchester Digital was founded as a trade association in 2001 to support and foster the growth of companies in the digital sector across the North West. Ten years on it has over 250 active members ranging from Blue Chip Corporates, Global Advertising Agencies, Digital Agencies, Software Developers, Comms Providers, Animators to freelancers and students – representing a strong network of people and businesses who work as suppliers or users of digital services and technology.

Marketing Agency
E.g. The Savvy Partnership

Marketing Mix
The term ‘marketing mix’ relates to the various elements (tactics and activities) of a marketing strategy/campaign.

Member-Get-A Member
Organisation or customer recruitment technique that offers an incentive to current members for referring new members.

A way of keeping you on a website, for instance disabling the back button for instance or generating repeated pop-up’s.

Mystery Shopping
A mystery shopper experiences the normal customer experience or a product or service of an organisation and reports back on this to the client. Mystery shopping often used to highlight areas when an organisation needs to make improvements or to find out what your competition are doing.

Short for ‘network etiquette’ – which is the code of conduct regarding acceptable on-line behaviour.

Meeting with fellow business types and clients for business advantage.

On message
Controlling the company’s image is very important – when everyone in the business knows the official line and sticks to it that is called being “On message”.

On pack
Competition or free gift promoted on side of a packet – often used in foods aimed at children.

Open ended questions
A research technique featuring questions that have no specific answers but designed to prompt open and wide discussion.

Opportunities To Hear – refers to the frequency of exposure to a radio advert. In other words, how often the advert is played, what radio station is used, time of day – all of these dictate the OTH which is ultimately how many times can the potential consumer hear the advert.

4 P’s
Relates to the 4 marketing decision variables which are:
• Price
• Product
• Place (distribution)
• Promotion.

Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format that provides an electronic image of text or text and graphics that looks like a printed document and can be viewed, printed, and electronically transmitted.

The time of day when television audiences are highest – also called primetime. Generally considered to be between 6 – 10pm Monday – Friday.

Photo call
An arranged time and place for photography to be taken to achieve maximum PR gain for a particular product or service.

Computer software that allows you to digitally manipulate photograph.

A multimedia digital file (either audio or video) made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc.

Point of Sale/POS
Display material used in any retail outlet designed to draw attention to a product and/or offer.

Pop-up Ad
You’r surfing the net when an advert pops up and blocks your view of the site you’re looking at.

PPC or Pay-per-Click as it’s also known, allows you to bid on the phrases your customers use when they search for your products in search engines such as Google, but you only pay per click when they come through to your website.

Production people cost, source and ultimately produce into adverts or events, the ideas suggested by creative teams.

A piece of computer software (publishing programme) for Apple Macs.

Type of research that gathers soft rather than hard statistical information. So for example what people think of a product or service. Qualitative research gathers in-depth perceptions and motivations to generate insight into a company’s product or service.

QR Codes
A QR, or Quick Response Code is a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, and smartphones. They consist of black modules arranged in a square pattern on white background.

Rate Card
A document which sets out the costs for advertising space together with production details and copy dates.

The total number of people who read a publication as opposed to those who buy it (that’s circulation).

Return-o- investment – a measure of the performance and success of a campaign or promotion.
Ring Around
The phone round to prime media contacts to determine how they will respond to a PR Story.

Sales Promotion
Promotional idea used to increase sales of a product – most common is BOGOF (buy one, get one free).

Shrewdness and practical knowledge, to know or understand.

This is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimisation – the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the ‘natural’, or un-paid (‘organic’ or ‘algorithmic’) search results.

Abbreviation of the words “sound effects”.

Shock Tactics
Using a shock tactic in an advert to grab your attention.

Six Sheet
More commonly known as an Adhsel, a six sheet is the size of poster you see in bus shelters.

Skype is a popular software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. Skype also allows users to set up profiles, text chat and video chat/conference through a computer or mobile device from anywhere in the world.

Short Message Service (SMS) is a system that enables cellular/mobile phone users to send and receive text messages.

Social Media
A relatively new and constantly evolving marketing tool which consists of various user-driven inbound marketing channels e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, YouTube etc.

Solus position
Refers to the position of an advert on a page where no other advertising appears.

Special Build
Outdoor advertising site specially constructed for a particular campaign.

Someone who works for an organisation and ‘speaks’ on their behalf – often anonymously.

Split Testing
A/B testing or bucket testing as it’s also known is a method of marketing testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response or conversion rates. A traditional direct mail tactic, this method has also recently been adopted within the interactive space to test tactics such as banner ads, emails, landing pages or even entire websites.

The essential thinking structure underpinning any marketing campaign or idea.

A ‘tablet’ computer/devise is a general-purpose computer contained in a single panel. Its distinguishing characteristic is the use of a touch screen as the input device. Modern tablets are operated by finger, whereas earlier tablets required a stylus.

Target Audience
The people/group/type of person you are aiming your campaign at, the people you want to buy your product, the people you are talking to!

The use of the telephone for marketing purposes – lead generation, list-building, selling and so on.

Target Group Index – a research tool for media planning and strategic thinking which provides cross linked information on consumer purchasing behaviour and lifestyle attitude as well as media consumption.

A term referring to the duration and key stages of a marketing project until an established cut-off point or deadline.

A very popular instant messaging system that lets a person send brief text messages up to 140 characters in length to a list of followers.

URL stands for Uniform (or Universal) Resource Locator and is the address of a World Wide Web (www) page.

Refers to how easy a website is to use, navigate ad access information.

Viewing facility
Two-way mirrors used in research during focus group or research interviews, to allow agencies and clients to watch and listen unobtrusively.

Demonstrate to client the look and feel of a particular advert.

Viral Marketing
Viral marketing, viral advertising, or marketing buzz are terms referring to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives.

The VO or voice over is the person reading the script on a TV/Radio advert.

Voice Over Internet Protocol or VOIP, is a communications protocol that allows for telephonic communication via the Internet.

Vox pops
A short video of someone responding to a question asked on camera and gaining an obvious human reaction or response to an issue.

Web browser
The device that allows you to surf the internet and view websites e.g. Chrome, Internet Explorer etc.


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