Image of overlapping books

Advertising Glossary

14 August 2017

If you've ever come into contact with someone who works in advertising or are just starting out in the industry, you'll quickly realise that we have our own (often colourful) language. To ease the confusion, we've created an A-Z Advertising Glossary of Terms.


A-Z Index


A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I


J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R


S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z





If you ask 10 different people what “Always-On” means, you’re likely to get 20 different answers (yes, you read that correctly). In an “Always-On” world, we can access, consume, create, and engage with content any time of the day (thanks to mobile internet and social media). “Always-On” marketing means reacting to the market, staying relevant, and being available to respond to consumers in real-time (or as close as possible).


Receiving an advertising award from a notable industry body (such as Cannes Lions – Festival of Creativity) is the ultimate prize for an agency. They are the shiny pieces of evidence that your agency represents best in class. They are what every creative works towards, and they make all of the blood, sweat and tears worth it.





A "book" is the name given to a creative's portfolio of their best work. Although most portfolios are now digital, the name has stuck.


A brief is the document from which all great ideas are born. In the first instance, a brief comes from the client, which outlines the business problem that they would like addressed. From there, a planner and/or a suit boils down the idea into a creative brief. In its ultimate form, a creative brief is a short, single-minded summary of the job, with focus on one singular angle or idea. A great brief writer is someone who can cut through all the fluff, and find the most relevant gem to pass onto the creative team.





A chatbot is a new type of automated consumer service platform, powered by rules and artificial intelligence, whereby consumers can interact with this bot on networks such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype etc. It has the ability to revolutionise the future of brand’s consumer service and operations models, specifically for online bookings, ordering online goods and services and answering consumer queries/problems.

Chemistry Meeting

An opportunity for the client to meet with the agency before a pitch takes place, to see how the "chemistry" works between them.

Click-through Rate (CTR)

In digital advertising, CTR measures the ratio of users who click on a specific link to the number of times the ad is displayed (impressions). It is the primary measurement of the effectiveness of a digital ad.

Contact Report

A physical transcript of a client meeting, usually recorded by Account Services.

Cost per Click (CPC)

Not to be confused with PPC, CPC is the main metric used for measuring digital ad efficiency and performance. CPC is calculated by dividing the total ad spend by the number of link clicks. The lower the CPC, the better the ad is performing. CPC can also be used as a bidding method (instead of CPM) on most digital ad platforms.


Creatives are the ideas people of the advertising world. When you think back to your favourite ads, they will most likely have come from the mind of a talented creative. Within the creative label, there are art directors (those good with pictures), and copywriters (those good with words). Being a creative is a tough gig; you’ve got to come up with ideas out of thin air, keep the client happy, and ultimately add value for the end consumer.  




Digital Engagement

A cumulative metric which is regularly reported on within the digital and social media environment. It refers to any or all of the following user actions: likes, comments, shares, reactions, or clicks.





The estimate is the sword by which we live and die. If we are making a poster for a company, we will estimate the time (and cost) that it will take to complete this job from start to finish. We then send this estimate off to our client to (hopefully) approve, so we can get cracking. Getting an estimate approved is a win for us, and something which (figuratively) keeps the wheels turning.




Facebook Custom Audience

Facebook Custom Audiences can be created from existing customer lists, website visitors, App users, and even people who’ve engaged with your business on Facebook or Instagram. You can then retarget these Custom Audiences using Facebook Ads, or create Lookalike Audiences to reach new people with similar demographics, interests, behaviours, and connections.





Geotargeting (or geo-targeting) involves targeting people with specific content based on their geographic location. On a micro level, brands can send mobile notifications to users to communicate current offers or improve the customer experience through in-App features. For example, brands such as Apple and IKEA use geo-fencing technology to target users when they are in close proximity to a physical store.

Guard Book

A scrap book that chronicles all the work done to date for a particular client.





A hashtag (#) is a term for the type of metatag used in social media language. It is best used to aggregate social data by specific themes, trends, categories etc.





Impressions count the number of times a piece of content is displayed. Unlike Reach, an impression is recorded every time the content is shown, even if the same person is displayed the same content multiple times.






Key Number

A unique, identifying number assigned to each individual piece of advertising to ensure the right creative runs in the right placement.





In advertising, having great legs isn’t what you think it is. If a piece of work "has legs", it means that it will stand the test of time, and can be translated across a number of media. A piece of work with legs is a big selling point for clients, as it means it won’t need replacing after a matter of months. An idea with great legs is testament to a clever insight (and vice versa).




Material Instructions (MI)

Typically referred to as a MI, Material Instructions are a running list of insertions or placements across publishers to provide instruction on the specs, deadlines and in-market date. They are typically developed by the media agency and completed by the advertising agency who provides detail on the key number(s) and creative to run. MIs are developed for all print, press and digital display campaigns. They are also used for TV campaigns to instruct rotations and weighting of each spot.


Mobile-First marketing places mobile devices and users at the forefront of design and planning. Aside from the obvious display differences, mobile-first marketing can take advantage of all the I/O capabilities of smartphones including GPS, NFC, camera, touchscreen, microphone, speaker, accelerometer, fingerprint scanner etc.




Net Promoter Score (NPS)

NPS measures customer experience by asking respondents to rate how likely they are to recommend a brand/product/service to a friend or colleague, on a scale of 0-10. Ratings of 0-6 are considered detractors, 7-8 passive, and 9-10 promoters. NPS is then calculated by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters.




Out-of-home (OOH)

OOH encompasses all forms of advertising found in public places such as billboards, street advertising, sporting arenas, shopping centres, and on or around public transport.

Overnight Test

When one spends the day pinning ideas to a wall and then returns the next morning with a fresh set of eyes and a whole new perspective on said ideas. Morning afters can be a good thing.      





A pitch, and the art of pitching, is the way in which agencies get new business. A pitch is the selling part of our job. When we pitch, we are auditioning to convince a client that we can solve their problems better than competing agencies. We do this through a combination of big ideas and smooth presentation skills. Pitching can mean late nights, back and forward with red pens, and ultimately - stress. Losing a pitch can feel demoralising, but winning one is the best feeling in the world.


From the outside, advertising can look like a lot of smoke, mirrors, and pretty visuals. However, great advertising is the output of great planning work, which has led to a powerful insight. Conversely, advertising without an insight doesn’t often stand the test of time. Planning is about finding this insight; one unlocks a powerful creative idea and then writing the creative brief. A big faux pas in advertising is having ideas which lack a clear brief. As the saying goes, poor planning leads to poor performance.

Pay per Click (PPC)

PPC is a digital advertising model where you only pay for clicks (or actions) as opposed to total impressions.







Reach is a measure of the number of people that are shown a piece of content at least once. Even if a person is displayed the same content multiple times, the reach will only be counted as one.



A recce (pronounced reck-ee) is a recon mission that producers go on while planning a shoot. A recce investigates whether a location is appropriate for a shoot. It would unearth things like bad lighting, strange smells, or problematic noise – all of which can make a shoot a real nightmare. Many a shoot has been ruined by overlooked “happenings” on a location, which can be symptomatic of an average recce.  





A rough drawing of a creative idea typically done in pen or pencil, when first presenting creative ideas. A scamp doesn’t necessarily have all the finer detail, but it used to convey an idea and give a visual representation to a client for a layout of print, OOH or digital. Scamps will often be used as the basis for digital layouts or production company briefings, giving a rough guide but still allowing creative interpretation to be taken from it.

Single Minded Proposition (SMP)

The Single-Minded Proposition refers to the act of summarising the essence of the product/brand in one concise but clear sentence. The SMP should include the most important thing to note about the product/brand. The key to a great SMP is often not what is included, but what is left out. One of the best SMPs of all time came with the original iPod. Rather than focus on the plethora of radical new features, the SMP simply read “1,000 songs in your pocket”. 

Snackable Content

A piece of social content which is short in length (5-10 seconds), but able to be easily digested by people who are often time poor and lacking a long attention span.

Social Listening

Social listening refers to the tracking and monitoring of conversation across various social networks and digital platforms. It is powered by its ability to detect keywords, hashtags, mentions, phrases, brand names etc. Social Listening is extremely valuable for brands to tap into as there is the opportunity for real-time listening and engagement, campaign monitoring, insight generation and sentiment analysis.


A film created to communicate a mood or rough storyline, cut together from footage "stolen" from other films.


Suits are the account management team. Suits aren’t the financial wizards (often far from it), rather they oversee each account and take care of the client who runs them. A good suit has to juggle a number of balls and manage a number of competing interests. The best suits are able to keep all parties happy, and not only give clients what they want, but show them what they could have (and maybe do a bit of arm twisting to boot). Account servicing can often feel like herding cats, but it is a crucial cog in the advertising wheel.




Thumb-Stopping Creative

A piece of simple creative, executed in such a way that when users are scrolling through their timeline/news feed, it prompts them to stop, watch and engage with the creative. The aim is for agencies to produce thumb-stopping creative within digital to maximise engagement and disrupt users passive scrolling.


A tissue, or a tissue session is an early iteration of work that creatives present to a client. It happens sometime after the initial briefing, and before the final presentation, and exists to give the client an indication of where the creative is heading. Although the work may be rough and unfinished, the session communicates the key idea of the creative, giving the client the early chance to say yay or nay.




User Generated Content (UGC)

UGC is the approach of reusing or repurposing content that has been created by the community and/or social users. When implementing UGC, it is social best practice for brands to credit the user in some format, to ensure intellectual property is protected.




Video Retention Rate

Following the promotion of a video advert on Facebook, the average retention rate refers to the average percentage of the video that users have watched. This is the most important metric to look at when reporting on video, as this is a representative measure of how engaged the audience was.





A WIP, or a work-in-progress is how we often start our weeks. It is the title we give our meetings wherein we answer the question “What are you up to?” A WIP outlines how an agency is using its resources and personnel, and gives various teams a better understanding of what is going on. When we have a good WIP, we end up on the same page as to where we are going, and what needs doing.







More commonly referred to as CTR, yield indicates the percentage of clicks divided by impressions for a digital ad in a specific location.