Ultimate Programmatic Glossary 

The programmatic industry is full of complex terms and subtle nuances that experts should understand – but sometimes, you just need a little refresher. In this ultimate programmatic glossary, you will find every term, concept and definition you need to know to master the ad tech industry.


ad exchange

An ad exchange is a platform where many ad networks perfom auctions for the buying and selling of ad inventory. Learn more about online ad auctions here.

ad fraud

Ad fraud can take many forms but is essentially a scam to bring advertisers to pay for worthless opportunities. Ad stacking, domain spoofing and click fraud are the most common types of ad frauds.

ad inventory

Ad inventory is the amount of ad spaces a publisher has available on their website.


Arbitrage is a technique where one party will buy cheap inventory and resell it at a higher price by, for example, integrating a video player into it to increase the value of the ad space and make a profit out of the resell. This is one of the practices Ads.txt aims at countering.

ad server

An ad server is a platform that delivers ads to a user’s browser.

(ATD) Agency Trading Desk

An ATD is usually an extension of an agency in charge of programmatic media buying using demand-side platforms (DSPs). However, some companies specialize in programmatic buying without being attanched to an agency. They are knows as independent trading desks. Behavioural targeting Behavioral targeting targets users based on their most frequently visited websites and their overall online behavior. Users with similar behavior are usually grouped in audience segments.



Bots are fraudulent programs designed to simulate human online interaction and create fake impressions.

brand safety

Brand safety is the process of ensuring safe ad placements to advertisers, so that the content of the website the impression is displayed on doest not negatively impact the advertising brand. This is done by searching for keywords, categories and domains among other things. Find out more about district m’s anti-fraud technology.


(CTR) Click-Through Rate

The Click-through rate, or CTR, is the percentage of ad impressions that resulted in a click.

contextual advertising

Contextual advertising is the displaying of ads that are targeted to the content of the website. This is done through an automated scanning of keywords and content on the website


A cookie is a piece of java script that is placed by a website on a user’s browser. It helps publishers collect valuable information on their audience’s behavior and is also used by advertisers for retargeting campaigns.

(CPA) Cost-Per-Acquisition

Also called cost-per-action, CPA is how much it cost to convert a website visitor to a client.

(CPC) Cost-Per-Click

CPC is the cost of a campaign per click-through.

(CPM) Cost-Per-Mile

CPM is the cost of a thousand impressions on a website or web page.

cross-device tracking

Cross-device tracking is the analysis of a user’s behavior across every device – desktop, mobile and tablet.


(DMP) Data Management Platform

A DMP is a system that gathers first-party data to integrate it to third-party data. The process allows publishers to gain insight on their audience and advertisers plan fro better media buying strategies.

(DSP) Demand-Side Platform

Demand-side platforms are used by advertisers for their programmatic buying. The platform allows for automated purchase of ad impressions and is integrated to supply-side platforms (SSPs), ad exchanges and programmatic direct softwares.

dynamic creatives

Dynamic creatives are a flexible ad format that will be adpated in real time to the user who views it. The dynamic creative optimization can be based on gender, location, age or online behavior of the viewer, among other indicators. Find out more about Dynamic Creative Optimization (DCO).




First-look is a benefit offered to specific advertisers by publishers and SSPs that allow them to purchase impressions for a fixed price. The ad slots won’t be opened to auction before the first-look buyers decline.

first-price auction

A first-price programmatic auction happens in real-time bidding when the highest bid for an ad slot wins, regardless of the amount submitted by lower bidders. Lear more about first-price auctions.

first-party data

First-party data is gathered by a website owner and reflects its visitors’ online behavior. It is the most valuable data as it is proprietary to the publisher or website owner and provides precise and accurate data about its audience.

frequency cap

A frequency cap is a method to control how many times an ad will be served to an specific user. It is used to avoid targeted audiences to become irritated with the ad.



header bidding

Header bidding is an advanced programmatic technique where a publisher offers its inventory to multiple exchanges simultaneously before making a call to their ad servers.









private exchange

Private exchanges are a method for publishers to control which advertiser buys their inventory so to avoid reselling of their inventory.

price floor

A price floor is set at a minimum cost in a second-price auction. It allows for publishers to get their full revenue potential. Learn more about price floors.

programmatic A/B testing

A/B testing is a method of simultaneously comparing two ads to see which one generates the best results. It’s a good process to optimize campaigns.

programmatic direct

Programmatic direct, also know as programmatic premium or programmatic reserved, is when advertisers are guaranteed impressions on a publisher’s website through a direct deal. The delivery process is still automated, but the ad space will not go up for an online auction as it would in Real-Time Bidding (RTB).

programmatic video

Programmatic video advertising – as the name would suggest – combines the technology and logic behind programmatic advertising, and allows you to deliver highly engaging video ads in the same way. This unlocks a whole new potential for publishers and advertisers to get the very best out of their video ad units. Learn more about our offer for publishers!



(RTB) Real Time Bidding

Real-time bidding is the automated process of buying and selling ad impressions in real-time. Within milliseconds, the visitor’s information is sent to an ad exchange where a real-time auction occurs to win the ad slot. The price is determined by the immediate demand. Find out more about RTB!


second-party data

Second party data is also data collected about online users, only it is provided by an external partner and compliments the “proprietary”data. It is usually acquired through partnerships but can also be bought.

second-price auction

Second-price auction happens in real-time bidding when the auction is cleared at the second highest price plus a small fee, usually one cent. Learn more about second-price auctions.

(SSP) Supply-Side Platform

Supply-side platforms allow publishers to connect their inventory to DSPs, ad exchanges and networks to sell their impressions in real-time. SSPs can be connected to multiple buying-source and allow the publisher to set a floor price for their impressions.


third-party data

Third party data can be bought on a much larger scale. Some companies specialize in data buying and will buy it from a broad range of publishers, allowing companies to get a better overview of their market. The counterpart is that competition also has access to this data. User attributes User attributes are characteristics that define an online user, such as demographics, interests and online behavior, and will help build the behavior profile that will be used for ad targeting.




Viewability is an online advertising metric that measures the number of impressions viewed by users. An impression does not necessarily count as a viewed impression.



A whitelist, as opposed to a blacklist, is a directory of websites that an advertiser determines safe to serve its ads on.

win rate

The win rate if the percentage of impressions won in online auction over the number of bids submitted.



yield optimization

Yield optimization is a method for publishers to determine the worth of their ad impressions and maximize the revenue on their inventory.