Understanding the terms used in Internet advertising

If you’re not familiar with Google AdWords/Yahoo/Bing advertising services, and want to start an online advertising campaign, you will start to discover new terms that will surely help you manage your campaigns. In order not to lose yourself in all this new jargon and to facilitate possible correspondences between your company and your campaign manager, we give you the most commonly used terms and their definitions.


Keywords are words or phrases that you choose, based on your judgment that they will help trigger the distribution of your ads. For example, if your business is delivering pizzas to Montreal, you can use ” Montreal pizza delivery ” as a keyword in your Google AdWords campaign. When a user enters the “Montreal pizza delivery” query on a search engine (Google/Yahoo/Bing), your ad may appear among the search results.

Note, however, that a keyword is a search, not simply a word. For example, if the search engine user types “flowers” in Google, “flowers” is a keyword. If the user types, “flower delivery”, it is also a single keyword although it consists of two words.

Ad slots

Like keywords, ad slots allow you to tell search engines where you want your ads to appear. An ad slot usually refers to a specific website on which you want to run your ad. For example, if you select www.jadorelapizza.com for your pizza delivery ad, your ad will likely be shown on this site.

In order for your ad to appear on a specific site, the target website must agree to be a part of the search engine ad network and it must also agree to receive your ad. Be aware that a site can choose which ads to display based on the general themes of ads or even based on the advertiser. Therefore, it is very unlikely that you will be able to publish your ads on your competitors’ websites.

Illustrated announcements

These are static or animated ads, shown on the Search Engine Display Network. They can also be referred to as “display ads“. This type of ad is usually designed to increase the visibility and reputation of the advertiser. The goal is that people see your ad, logo, slogan (etc.) so they know you and remember you.

Typical pricing for this type of ad is calculated via 1000 impressions (impressions = the number of times your ad has appeared on a website). “Cost Per Thousand” (CPM) will be used to calculate the cost of this type of campaign, but it is also possible to choose a per “click” pricing.

Campaigns and advertising groups

The accounts you create your online ads with are organized into campaigns then into ad groups. You start by creating a campaign (eg ” Pizza delivery “), which has a daily or monthly budget and its own targeting preferences: geographical area, hours of broadcast, etc. You can run multiple campaigns simultaneously by choosing to create a campaign for each product or service you’re promoting.

Ad groups are the sub-categories of your ad campaigns, each of which consists of a single ad with keywords and related placement slots. For your “Pizza delivery” campaign, you can, for example, create an ad group “Pizza delivery Paris”, ” Pizza delivery Marseille” etc. You can create as many ad groups as you want.

However, be sure to organize your campaigns and ad groups in a logical way, as it will really help you manage your account when you have to run multiple campaigns and ad groups simultaneously.

Impressions (impr.) = distribution

As explained above, the number of impressions is the number of times your ad is shown on search engines or on their partner site networks. You can monitor your impressions to see how many people see your ad.

An ad that generates little or no impressions will need to be optimized (for keywords, budget, targeting, etc.) to improve its performance. You should create multiple ads in an ad group to analyze which one gets the best results.


If an Internet user sees your ad and clicks on it, your account registers their click. Therefore, you must monitor the amount of clicks your ads receive to determine the number of users who arrive to your website via your ad. Clicks will be the first performance indicator for your ads and your campaign in general.

Logically, the more relevant your ad is to users’ searches, the more clicks you will receive and the lower your cost-per-click (CPC) will be. Indeed, it is both in your interest and in the search engines interest that your ads be relevant to the queries of the users. Therefore, “good ads” appear more often in search results and at lower cost.

Click through rate (CTR)

CTR is a statistic that allows you to determine the performance of your ads. The more relevant your ads are, the more likely internet users are to click on them and the more your CTR is likely to increase. The system calculates your CTR as follows: number of clicks on ads / number of impressions x 100.

This indicator is to be used with caution because a strong CTR does not necessarily mean a significant number of clicks. For example, if an ad has been shown 10 times in the month and has registered 3 clicks, its CTR will be 30%. In the same way, an ad that has displayed 1000 times and has recorded 100 clicks will get a CTR of 10%. If we only look at the CTR to determine the performance of our ads, we’ll be tempted to keep those that have the best click-through rates, even though they may not match the ones that have the most clicks.

Cost per click (CPC)

With cost-per-click (CPC) pricing, the costs of ad platforms are billed for each click that your ads generate. An ad that shows up in the search results does not cost you anything until someone clicks on it.

CPC bids are the default pricing option for ads on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, as well as their partner networks. Most advertisers also choose this option for direct response campaigns, whether it’s a sale, a listing, or any other action.

The CPC that you will have to pay for a given keyword is determined by the popularity of the keyword (the higher the demand for that keyword, the higher the CPC), the quality of your ads and the maximum cost-per-click that you have indicated.

Cost per maximum click (maximum CPC)

The maximum CPC is the highest amount you are willing to pay for a click on your ad. You can choose to set a maximum CPC for specific keywords or for all keywords in an ad group.

Please note that it is not because you decide to set a maximum CPC of 3 dollars for a keyword that you will necessarily pay this amount for each click. This is obviously a maximum amount to keep you secure in the case of bids that are too high.

Cost per thousand impressions (CPM)

As part of some campaigns, you may choose to pay the number of impressions/views (and not per number of clicks). The maximum CPT is the highest amount you are willing to pay per thousand impressions (or consultations) of your ad.

The CPT bidding system is only available for campaigns that target the Display Network, not search engines and partner sites in their search network.

This type of ad is very suitable for visibility campaigns if you want to highlight your brand, your logo, a special offer, or the launch of a product

Quality level

Quality level is the primary indicator of the quality of your keywords and ads. It will also determine your cost-per-click (CPC), the amount you will pay when people click on your ads.

The quality level is determined by the keyword’s click through rate (CTR), ad text relevance, account performance history, and other relevancy factors. The higher the quality level, the lower the price you pay per click.

First page auction estimate

When you choose to show your ad for a given keyword, the platform displays an estimate of the first page bid for each of your keywords. This statistic evaluates the cost-per-click (CPC) bid required for your ad to appear on the first page of search results when the search query matches your keyword exactly.

The first page bid estimate is based on the quality of your ad and the current advertiser competition for that keyword. However, there are no guarantees as to how many times your ad will run. Indeed, the search engines give us approximations based on algorithmic calculations in which little is communicated.

It’s okay to pay attention to the “advice” given by these platforms but not to blindly follow their recommendations and take their estimates for granted.


Optimization involves creating/editing keywords, ad texts, or adjusting other items in the account to improve its overall performance.

The mission of your account manager is to initially create your ads, choose the right keywords, and analyze the results in order to proceed with the optimization phase.

If you liked this article, you might like this one: How does a search engine work?

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Understanding the terms used in Internet advertising
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