Media Buying 101: Important Terms to Understand

Jun 27, 2022

<a href="" target="_self">Geoff Campbell</a>

Geoff Campbell

Geoff Campbell is a PPC and Paid Media Manager for eCommerce, Industrial, and Enterprise brands.
media buying terms in advertising

When you first start with media buying, you may come across some unfamiliar terms. By knowing what all of the different terms mean, you can create better media buying strategies and ensure you’re getting the most from your campaigns. With that in mind, below are some of the most important terms to understand when it comes to media buying.

Media Buying Terminology

Ad network

An ad network is a company that connects marketers with websites that host ads. Rather than reaching out to individual websites themselves, the marketer can work with an ad network to quickly place their ads on suitable websites.

Ad Dimension

Ad dimension refers to the size of a digital advertisement. Ad dimensions are typically measured in pixels, such as 160×600 or 300×250. Websites typically have a predefined amount of space for advertisements and marketers must create ads that fit within these spaces.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of advertising system where a third party agrees to advertise a product or service in exchange for a commission. For example, a website may provide a business free advertising space, but if a visitor of that website becomes a customer of the business, the website owner receives a small percentage of the sale.

Audience Turnover

Audience turnover refers to the number of new visitors that replace old ones. It is a way of measuring customer loyalty or how many people continue to come back. For example, a website with high audience turnover may want to improve its user experience to encourage repeat customers. In radio advertising, audience turnover refers to a radio station’s cumulative audience versus the average quarter-hour audience.


Broadcasters and radio stations have a certain amount of available time for advertisements. Avails refer to the number of unsold time units still available.

Average Quarter-Hour Persons (AQH)

Average Quarter-Hour Persons refers to the average number of people listening to a radio station for at least five minutes over a 15 minute period. Marketers look at this number to determine the size of an audience for a particular radio station and how it relates to the cost of advertising there.

Average Quarter-Hour Rating

The Average Quarter-Hour Rating approximates the AQH as a percentage of the measured population. Similar to the AQH, marketers use the AQH rating when determining how much to pay for advertising on a particular radio station.

Banner ad

A banner ad is an advertisement on a website. Banner ads are typically rectangular or square in shape and consist of a static or animated image. Websites allow banner ads to generate revenue, while marketers use banner ads to advertise to the audience of that website.

Block Programming

Block programming is a term used in television and radio marketing. It refers to a series of programs that all appeal to the same demographics. Since all of the programs have a similar audience, marketers can place their advertisements anywhere within this window and still reach their intended demographics.

Cable Activity Report

The Cable Activity Report is a report generated by the Nielsen Media Research organization. It’s a report provided to cable companies that details information about household audiences. For example, it includes how many people watch a certain program or which times of day are the most popular for watching TV. Marketers can use information from this report to ensure they are advertising at the right times and locations.

Call to Action (CTA)

The Call to Action is a message that encourages users to take a specific action. Marketers include a CTA in their advertisements and other marketing materials to try to convert viewers. For example, an online advertisement might say “Click Here” or “Find Out More”. It’s important for every advertisement to have a CTA, otherwise, the audience may not know what to do next.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

The Click-Through Rate measures the percent of an online advertisement’s viewers who ultimately click on the ad. For example, if 1,000 people see an ad on a website and 150 of them click on it, this advertisement has a CTR of 15 percent. Marketers look at the CTR of their advertisements to ensure they are effective at converting viewers.


Conversion is a widely used term in media buying, where it typically refers to convincing the viewer of an advertisement to take an action. For example, if a website visitor ultimately buys a product, the website owner considers this visitor converted. 

Cost per Acquisition (CPA)

The Cost per Acquisition refers to how much an advertiser spends, from start to finish, to convert one visitor into a customer. The CPA may include costs such as creating the advertisements, paying for advertising space, optimizing a website for search engines, and employing sales agents. Measuring the CPA helps marketers ensure they are getting a good return for their investment.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

Cost Per Click is an online advertising measurement. It refers to how much a company pays the host of the advertisement each time someone clicks on their ad. CPC rates vary based on the popularity of the hosting site.

Cost Per Engagement (CPE)

Cost Per Engagement is a relatively new performance measure in online advertising. Cost per engagement accounts for other types of engagement beyond clicking on an advertisement. For example, a user may view your story on Instagram or share your tweet on Twitter. Marketers primarily use CPE when it comes to video advertising and social media campaigns.

Cost Per Thousand (CPM)

Cost Per Thousand (or Mille) is another online advertising measurement, similar to CPC. The difference is that in a CPM structure, the marketer pays for the number of people who view the ad rather than click on it. CPM measures in thousands of viewers, meaning you pay a specified rate for every 1,000 people who see the advertisement, regardless of how many people actually click on the ad.


Cume is a radio advertising term that refers to the number of individuals listening to a radio station during a specific day for at least five consecutive minutes. In other advertising mediums, it refers to the total number of people reached over a specific period of time.


A daypart is a time segment in radio advertising. Typically, a daypart refers to either the morning, midday, afternoon, or evening time periods. When advertising on the radio, marketers can select which daypart they want to advertise in and pay rates respective to that period. 

End Rate

The end rate is the total amount an advertiser pays for a TV commercial time after factoring in discounts and other negotiations. The end rate often differs from the starting rate.

Fixed Position

A fixed position is a specified time for a radio or television advertisement to run. The advertiser agrees to run the advertisement at a specific time or during a specific program, rather than during an entire daypart. A fixed position gives marketers more control over the specific audience they want to target.

Flight Dates

Flight dates refer to the start and end dates of a marketing campaign. Marketers typically set flight dates before beginning a marketing campaign to help them better budget and plan their marketing strategies.


Frequency refers to how often an individual or household views a specific advertisement. Marketers look at the frequency of an ad to ensure that their audience isn’t seeing their advertisement too often or not often enough. For example, a marketer may look at the frequency at which a household sees an ad over the course of one month to determine if they need to run the ad more or less often.

Frequency Capping

Frequency Capping is a method for ensuring an individual doesn’t see the same advertisement too many times. The marketer places a cap on the frequency, stopping the ad for that person once they reach a certain frequency level. 


Impressions are the total number of times an individual sees an advertisement or a group of ads. When talking about digital marketing, impressions are the total number of times an ad appears online. For example, if you run an ad on Facebook, each time someone sees your ad, that is one impression.

Media Buying

Media Buying is the act of buying advertising space and running advertising campaigns. This typically takes place after the marketer conducts research into the best advertising methods for their goals and determines where to best invest their resources.

Media Mix

Media Mix refers to how you allocate your time and resources across your advertising campaign. It includes all of your channels, such as digital advertising, television commercials, print ads, and radio spots.

Media Planning

Media Planning is the process of deciding how to create the best media mix. In media planning, you research the target audience along with potential advertising channels to determine how to best allocate resources.

Net Reach

Your Net Reach is the total number of people an advertisement reaches at least one time. Net Reach does not account for individuals seeing an ad multiple times. By measuring net reach, marketers can get a better understanding of how many people see their ads.

Out Clause

An Out Clause is an agreement between the marketer and the advertiser that goes along with a media buy. It states how much time the marketer has to cancel an order before they are no longer eligible for a refund. Marketers often seek to get an out clause in their agreements in case they need to adjust their strategy after placing the media buy.


A Pop-Up is an advertisement that appears in front of the user’s current browser window. Pop-Ups typically occur when a user reaches a new webpage and can either appear as a separate window or as an image within the webpage. One of the advantages of using pop-up advertisements is that they gain the attention of the visitor by appearing in front of the main text.

Post click Tracking (PCT)

Post Click Tracking is a way of tracking user behavior after they interact with a digital advertisement. For example, you could track if a user fills out a registration form after clicking on your banner ad. PCT helps inform marketers about the effectiveness of their advertisements.

Pre-emption and Preemptible

Pre-emption is the practice of replacing a scheduled advertisement in favor of another one. Advertisers may preempt a previously scheduled ad due to receiving a higher price from another marketer.

Return on Investment (ROI)

In marketing, Return on Investment measures whether you are earning enough benefits relative to your resource investment. For example, if you are spending on average $1 for each visitor you bring to your website but only earning $0.50 in profit per visitor, then this results in a negative return on investment. However, if you generate on average $2 per visitor in profits, this is a positive return on investment. Marketers measure return on investment to gauge the effectiveness of their campaigns and ensure they are spending resources wisely.


Rotation is how you distribute your advertisements across time within your flight period. For example, you may decide to run two advertisements on alternating days or rotate one advertisement in place of another after a few weeks.

Run of Schedule or Run of Site (ROS)

When talking about television or radio advertising, Run of Schedule refers to scheduling that runs across multiple dayparts or multiple days. Typically, Run of Schedule means Monday to Friday, from 6 a.m to 12 midnight. When discussing digital advertising, Run of Site refers to running an advertisement on a website without a preference about the specific pages or times.

Spot Television

Spot Television is the available commercial advertising time for sale by a local TV station. Television spots for sale can either be locally broadcast or nationally broadcast.

Learn More About Media Buying

Need some assistance with your media buying? EWR Digital is a full-service digital marketing agency that helps clients of all sizes. Contact us today to ask us any questions related to media buying or to get started with your own digital marketing campaign.