Digital Marketing Terms Explained

When I first started out in digital marketing the biggest challenge was learning all of the terminology and what it stood for. It also doesn’t help that the letters for most of the terms are similar and that certain things do not actually mean what you would think they would. After going self-hosted, I decided to put some advertising on my blog. While navigating my way around affiliate networks I realised how lucky I was to have learned all of the terms through my day job – as I would have had no clue just from blogging. In this article, I am going to try and clear up a few you may come across if you are new to having advertising on your blog.

(Cost Per Click)

CPC stands for cost per click. So if you were on the buy side you would pay for clicks only. But as someone on the sell side, this is what you get paid for. Each time someone clicks on an advert that is hosted on your website you will be paid a pre-agreed amount. CPC is paid out regardless of whether the person goes on to buy the product or not.

(Cost Per Mille)

Cost per mille sounds like it should be cost per million, but that would be outrageous so it is actually cost per thousand (mille is thousand in Latin – because using the English language for these terms is obviously too simple). This is usually how impressions are priced. If someone is buying media on your site and they are buying per impression they are literally buying based on the ad being shown. So you will receive the CPM amount per thousand impressions, which is just every thousand ads shown. Even if the customer does not click or go on to buy the product you will get paid, so it is not surprising this is one of the most desirable ways for people to sell advertising inventory on their sites.

(Cost Per Action)

Cost per action is payable once the user carries out a pre-defined action from your ad. There are a lot of CPA networks out there that use this method. One of the common forms of ‘action’ is email sign-ups. When someone clicks through from you ad and signs up using their email address – you will get paid. CPA payout is usually a lot higher than CPC or CPM because acquiring the customer’s details are more desirable than them just clicking on the ad.

(Click Through Rate)

The click-through rate of one of your campaigns is the percentage of people that click on the ad to the advertiser’s website against the number of times the impression is shown. So if the ad is shown 100 times and one person clicks on it – the CTR is 1%. Ideally, both yourselves and the advertiser will work on getting the highest CTR possible for any given campaign. There could be a number of things that affect a CTR from the creative and the technical side.

(Call To Action)

The call to action is the words or phrase used in the advert to encourage users to click. If you are hosting advertising on your blog or website then the likelihood is you will receive the creative from the advertiser already made. There may be instances where you help out a bit or create the campaign so it looks more native to your site, so in this case, you will be responsible for figuring out the best call to action.


A conversion is basically used to describe when the person converts from a user to a customer. Say for example you are running a campaign for a web hosting service. They may pay you a certain amount for a click and then a little bit more for a conversion. If you are setting up a conversion campaign you will need to ensure that the advertiser is tracking conversions correctly. Ask them how they are going to ensure conversions generated by your blog or website are going to be attributed to you.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is a term that gets used a lot because it is becoming the most popular choice for advertisers. Rather than having a display ad, like a banner, native advertising is placed somewhere with the content, making it look native to the website. Even if you have never heard of native advertising you will more than likely have seen it – those small windows below the news articles you read that tell you that you could reclaim PPI are native advertising campaigns. If someone wants you to run a native advertising campaign on your blog or website the first thing you will need to do is ensure it is the right fit. If you blog about health and fitness a native advertising campaign for McDonald’s is going to look out of place and get a really low CTR.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is used to describe the relationship between an advertiser and a content creator whereby the content creator is rewarded for the customer buying the product through their unique link. Confusingly, affiliate campaigns can be paid on a CPC basis, a CPA basis or even as a percentage of the sale. Most of the big affiliate networks like Rakuten and CJ Affiliates keep it simple by paying you a set percentage of the sale of the product.

Last Click Wins

A lot of affiliate networks will use the ‘last click wins’ model to attribute the sale to the affiliate. This means 100% of the commission will go to the person who most recently dropped a cookie on the person’s browser. The path the customer takes before a conversion is not always straightforward. They may click through on your ad, get distracted and then decide to purchase later. If this is the case you will still receive the commission.

If you found this article helpful, I have also written one about how bloggers can use LinkedIn to drive traffic.

It may seem daunting, but you WILL get it. I also found this book I got on Amazon  really helpful and not full of jargon.

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