Ultimate Guide to Paid Search Acronyms & Terminology

Whether you’re new to the game or a seasoned account manager, PPC terms and acronyms can be difficult to digest at times. The sheer volume of terms, acronyms and technicality is enough to make even the boldest of individuals cry.

The folks here at PPC Hero believe it is important to provide our readers with as much information possible, so we’ve decided to compile a comprehensive list of paid search acronyms and terminology associated with this ever-changing industry. This way, none of our readers have an excuse to feel out of the loop!

  • Ad Delivery – A setting that determines how quickly you want Google to use your budget each day: either spread throughout the day (standard) or more quickly (accelerated). This setting affects when during the day your ads are likely to show, especially if your campaigns are limited by budget.
  • Ad Extensions – Additional incentives that increase the likelihood that users will click your ads. Advertisers can include business addresses and phone numbers, additional site links, or specific product information.
  • Ad Group – A set of keywords, ads, and bids that is a key part of how your account is organized. Each campaign is made up of one or more ad groups, while each ad group typically includes about 5-10 keywords.
  • Ad Position – The order in which your ad appears on a page in relation to other paid ads. An ad position of “1″ means that your ad is the first ad on a page.  Position one doesn’t mean that you are on top of the organic results necessarily.  You can be in position one while appearing on the side of the results.
  • Ad Rank – Not to be confused with Ad Position, Ad Rank is a value that’s used to determine your ad position behind-the-scenes. This is calculated as the product of your bid and Quality Score.
  • Ad Rotation – A preference that determines which ad in your ad group should show when you have multiple ads active. Rotation settings include Optimize for Clicks, Optimize for Conversions, Rotate Evenly (90 days) and Rotate Indefinitely.  This setting is important to check to ensure that you have a proper balance between testing of your messaging and performance of your account.
  • Ad Scheduling – Setting that allows you to control and specify which hours and days you want your ads to appear, targeting periods of time when you expect your ads to be more successful. It can also be used to automatically adjust bids during specific time periods (which is also known as dayparting).
  • Ad Status – A status for each ad that describes whether that ad is able to run, and if so, whether there are any policy restrictions on how or when it can run. Common ad statuses include Under Review, Eligible, Approved and more.
  • AdSense – A Google-based product that compensates website owners for showing relevant Display Network ads on their site.
  • Advertising Policies – Strongly suggested guidelines for your ads, keywords, and website. Ads that violate policies won’t be able to run.
  • AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) – Allows users to test changes to their account on a portion of the auctions that your ads participate in. ACEs can be set up to test new keywords, bids, placements and more. Users can also choose how much of the traffic they want to test and even discard the experiment at any point. If the experiment is discarded, your changes will automatically revert to the way they were before the test.
  • AdWords Editor – A free software application by Google that allows you to make changes to your account in bulk. This allows users to add new campaigns/ad groups/keywords, make bid changes and more.
  • AdWords Labels – These allow advertisers to organize elements within their accounts into meaningful groups for faster and easier reporting. Labels can be applied to keywords, campaigns, ad groups, and ads.
  • Analytics Content Experiments – Formerly known as Website Optimizer (standalone), this tool is built into the Analytics platform and allows users to setup A/B or multivariate tests for their landing pages to see how those changes affect user behavior. This tool can be a great way to make incremental improvements to conversion rates.
  • Application Program Interface (API) – An application that interacts directly with one or more external servers.
  • Audiences – In PPC, audiences are used to define the customers you target with your PPC ads. An audience can also refer to a group of users that have visited one or more pages of a website or completed a specific action. After this happens, they are included on lists that can be used to enhance your Display Network and Remarketing efforts. Advertisers can also create custom combinations, which can be a good way to target more specific audiences. Audiences used to define the customers you target with your PPC ads.
  • Automated Rules – A feature that automatically adjusts your ad statuses, budgets, and bids, so you don’t have to spend so much time manually monitoring your campaigns. The cool part about automated rules is that you can customize and fine-tune them to your individual account goals/KPIs.
  • Automatic Bidding – Automatic bidding allows you to put your bidding on autopilot with the goal of getting the most possible clicks within your budget. You can also set a CPC bid limit if you don’t want to exceed a particular price for each click.
  • Automatic Placements – Locations or domains on the Display Network where your ads can show, which are automatically matched to your keywords and/or other targeting methods.
  • Auto Tagging – A feature in AdWords that automatically appends a custom code to your destination URLs to help you track your ad performance using website tracking programs like Google Analytics.
  • Average Cost-Per-Click (Avg. CPC) – The average amount that you’ve been charged for a click on your ad. Average CPC is calculated by dividing the total cost of your clicks by the total number of clicks.
  • Average Position – A statistic that describes how your ad is typically positioned on search results pages.
  • Bid – The maximum amount you are willing to pay for a search keyword click.
  • Bidding Types – There are several ways to bid on your keywords, depending on what matters most to you and your business. There are three main bidding types available: focus on clicks (CPC), impressions (CPM), or conversions (CPA).
  • Bing Ads – Formerly known as adCenter, Bing Ads is a service that provides pay-per-click advertising on Bing and Yahoo! search properties.
  • Bing Ads Editor – A free desktop tool designed to help you manage your account offline and easily make changes in bulk. As it stands currently, this is only available for Windows OS applications.
  • Bing Campaign Analytics – The Campaign Analytics tool helps you track whether or not your ads are achieving your desired goals. You might also think of this as Bing’s version of Google Analytics.
  • Bidding Software – As the title indicates, this type of software is primarily used for the automatic controlling of bids. However, bidding software is also helpful for consolidating multiple advertising channels in one place, as well as providing the ability create high-level rules and algorithms to help optimize large PPC accounts.
  • Bounce Rate – Percent of people who enter your site but leave without visiting any other page.
  • Broad Match – The default matching option, broad match means that your ad may show if a search term contains your keyword terms in any order, and possibly along with other terms. Your ads can also show for singular or plural forms, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations. Sticking with the broad match default is a great choice if you don’t want to spend a lot of time building your keyword lists and want to capture the highest possible volume of ad traffic.
  • Broad Match Modifier (BMM) – You can add a modifier, a plus sign (+), to your broad match keywords if you’d like your ads to show when someone searches for close variants of your keywords in any order. Close variants include misspellings, singular/plural forms, abbreviations and acronyms. Unlike broad match, using a modifier excludes synonyms or related searches. For this reason, it adds an additional level of control. Using broad match modifier is a good choice if you want to increase relevancy even if it means you might get less ad traffic than broad match.
  • Daily Budget – An amount set for each ad campaign to specify how much, on average, you’d like to spend each day. However, it is important to know that on any single day, you can receive up to 20% more in costs than your daily budget.
  • Call Extensions – Feature that enables users to display a Google forwarding or business phone number along with their PPC ad.
  • Campaign – A set of ad groups (ads, keywords, and bids) that share a budget, location targeting, and other settings. Your AdWords account can have one or many ad campaigns running.
  • Change History – A tool that lists the changes you’ve made to your account during the past two years. See details about changes like bid adjustments, status changes, keyword additions and more. This is particularly helpful because you can filter changes based on a specific date or date range.
  • Clicks – In PPC, a click is registered when someone clicks on one of your Search or Display Network ads.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) – A way of measuring the success of an online advertising campaign. CTR is determined by dividing the number of users who clicked on an ad by the number of impressions.
  • Click-to-Call – Another name for Call Extensions, where you can add a business phone number to your ad. The “click-to-call” comes from users having the ability to simply click on the phone number in your ad to place the call.
  • Client ID – Known as an XID in Bing Ads, a Client ID is a 10-digit string of numbers that help distinguish one account from another in the Google system.
  • Contextual Targeting – Targeting feature that matches your ads to other relevant sites on the Display Network using your keywords and/or topics.
  • Conversion - A desired action taken by a website visitor, such as filling out a form or making a purchase. Search engines track visitors for up to 30 days, so your conversion may not happen until a subsequent visit several days later.
  • Conversion Optimizer – Also known as CPA bidding, this is a feature that uses historical conversion data to predict which clicks are likely to be valuable, then changes your bids to help you maximize conversions.
  • Conversion Rate – Conversions divided by clicks, which represent the rate at which a click on your ad resulted in a conversion or desired action.
  • Cookies – Not to be confused with snack-food, this is a small file saved on people’s computers to help store preferences and other information regarding previous search history.  Engines use these to track conversions and build audiences for remarketing lists.
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC) – The amount of money an advertiser pays search engines and other Internet publishers for a single click on its advertisement that brings one visitor to its website.
  • Cost-Per-Lead (CPL) – Also referred to as Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA), this refers to the amount of money an advertiser pays search engines and other internet publishers for a lead generated on its advertisement.
  • Cost-Per-Phone Call (CPP) – Maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a phone call. This feature will only work when using call extensions and a Google forwarding number with your ad.
  • Cost-Per-Thousand (CPM) – Pricing means advertisers pay their maximum bid amount for every one thousand impressions received.  This option is only available on the display network.
  • Cost-Per-View (CPV) – Used with TrueView video campaigns, this is a bidding option that allows users to pay each time your video is played.
  • Data Filters – A feature that allows users to select, sort and view only the information that is most important to them. This oftentimes makes large quantities of data become easier to digest.
  • Day Parting – Optimization technique where you adjust your ads to run during the most profitable hours and/or days. For example, if you run a call center that operates from 8-5, you can schedule ads to run during that timespan only.
  • Default Max. CPC – Set at the ad group level, this represents the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each ad click. If you don’t set a specific keyword bid, AdWords will apply your default max. CPC bid.
  • Destination URL – The URL address for the page you’re sending traffic to from your PPC ads.  This is allowed to be different from the display URL, although it has to direct users to the same domain as what is in the display URL.
  • Devices – Electronics that are capable of displaying a PPC ad. Supported devices include desktops/laptops, mobile devices and tablets.
  • Dimensions Tab – Reporting section in AdWords that allows advertisers to segment and view data based on a variety of criteria. For example, you can view aggregate data by destination URL, geographic location, hour of day, day of week and more.
  • Display Campaign Optimizer (DCO) – Tool that increases conversions by automatically managing, targeting and bidding for campaigns on the Google Display Network. Simply set a CPA target and AdWords will do the rest. However, you must have enough historical conversion data in order to opt into this feature.
  • Display/Content Bid – The maximum amount you’re willing to pay for an ad click on the Display Network.
  • Display/Content Network – A collection of more than a million websites, videos, and apps where your ads can appear.  Google’s network is called the Display Network, while Bing’s network of sites is called the Content Network.  In a lot of PPC circles, the terms are used interchangeably.
  • Display URL – The webpage address that is shown with your ad. This is often different from your destination URL and much shorter. Just make sure you only have one display URL per ad group and that it uses the same root domain as your destination URL.  AdWords allows 35 characters for Display URLs, and if your domain is longer than that they may show a shortened version.
  • Dynamic Ad Targeting – Targeting method that matches relevant searches with ads generated directly from your website automatically.
  • Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) – Feature that allows users to dynamically customize an ad to include keywords contained in user search queries.
  • Editorial Review – Policies that govern the content and forms of advertising accepted by the search engines. Every time you create a new ad/keyword/etc, it will be submitted for editorial review to ensure guidelines are met.
  • Embedded Negatives – Strategy that allows advertisers to show for every variation of a keyword, except for the keyword itself. This is a great way to help avoid cross-contamination of campaigns/ad groups housing similar or closely related terms along with ad groups that house different match types.
  • Enhanced CPC (ECPC) – Automatic bid management feature designed to increase your ROI by raising or lowering your bids for keywords that the system predicts are more likely to convert.
  • Exact Match – The most specific of the keyword match types and triggers your ad when users type your keyword exactly as is and in the same order.
  • Facebook Ads – Online social advertising channel with over 1 billion people. Due to an abundance of demographic data, Facebook has become a valuable asset to many PPC marketers.
  • Facebook Exchange (FBX) – Advertising program that targets users who visit a site (other than Facebook) and spend some time looking at a product, but don’t make the final purchase. With FBX, that third-party site will now be able to follow you to Facebook and target you there with a highly specialized ad. Think of it as Remarketing to Facebook’s colossal user database.
  • Free Clicks – Clicks that aren’t billed, such as actions taken on an interactive ads. For example, an expandable image as part of the ad format will result in “free clicks” when that interaction occurs.
  • Frequency Capping – Feature that enables advertisers to create a threshold for the number of times your ads appear to the same person on the Display Network.
  • Geotargeting – Also known as Location Targeting, this campaign setting allows advertisers to specify the geographical countries, regions, states, etc. where their ads will be served.
  • Google AdWords – Online advertising platform that offers pay-per-click advertising and site-targeted advertising for text, banner, and rich-media ads and more.
  • Google Analytics – Free website optimization service and interface that provides detailed statistics regarding visits to your site and behavioral analysis.
  • Google Checkout – Google Checkout is a service that makes buying and selling across the web fast, convenient, and secure. When you utilize Google Checkout an icon will be displayed within your pay-per-click ad and this can build trust with users and increase your click-through rate.
  • Google Forwarding Number – A unique phone number generated through Google that advertisers can use in their ads to help track business calls and performance.
  • Google Merchant Center – A tool that helps advertisers upload product listings and feeds to be used for Google Shopping, Google Product Ads, and Google Commerce Search.
  • Image Ads – Formatted for the Google Display Network, these are ads that include graphics to help promote your business. Ads of this type support a variety of sizes and formats, such as static, animated or flash.
  • Impressions – Number of people who see your PPC ad.
  • Impression Share – Impression share (IS) is the number of impressions you’ve received divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive. Eligibility is based on your current ads’ targeting settings, approval statuses, bids, and Quality Scores. Data is available at the campaign and ad group levels.
  • Interest Categories – Allows you to reach people based on their interests as they browse pages across the Google Display Network. You can select from a wide-ranging list of these categories — from autos and sports to travel and fashion — and Google will show ads to people who we think are interested in those categories.
  • Invalid Clicks – Also known as Click Fraud, these are clicks on ads that Google considers to be illegitimate, such as unintentional clicks or clicks resulting from malicious software.
  • Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – Performance measurement that stems from your primary metric or what is most important to a particular business’s success. For example, conversions and cost-per-acquisition can be popular KPIs for many PPC advertisers.
  • Keyword – A word or phrase that PPC advertisers use to target and display their ads in the sponsored search results.
  • Keyword Matching Options – Keyword-level settings that help control how closely the keyword needs to match a person’s search term in order to trigger your ad. These include broad, modified broad, phrase, exact and negative match types. You also have the ability to specify whether or not you want your phrase and exact match terms to show for plurals, misspellings or close variants.
  • Keyword Tool – Found in the AdWords interface, this tool helps advertisers find new keyword ideas and add them to your account. This can also be used to estimate traffic volume, identify negative keywords and determine competition level as well.
  • Landing Page – Specified by the destination URL, this is the webpage where customers end up after they click your ad. It is important to note that landing page quality is an important factor in determining Quality Score.
  • Lead – Desired action taken by customers, such as filling out a form, submitting an email or downloading a whitepaper, etc. that allows marketers to capture a user’s information for later use.
  • LinkedIN Ads – A self-service advertising solution that allows advertisers to place text ads on prominent pages across LinkedIn’s professional network using robust targeting options and more.
  • Location Extensions – Type of extension that includes a business address and phone number into text ads. These can be a great way to help attract more customers to local businesses.
  • Long-tail Keyword – A specific keyword phrase that consists of 2 or more words. Most advertisers use long-tail keywords to target the customer at or near their buying stage.  These also generally have less competition since they are more specific, which leads to reduced CPCs.
  • Managed Placements – Placement targeting lets AdWords advertisers choose individual spots in the Google content network where they’d like to see their ads displayed.  These are basically individual sites that you want your ads to appear on.
  • Manual Bidding – Default bidding option where CPC bids are set manually for a particular keyword, placement, etc. Advertisers also have the option to turn on Automatic Bidding if they don’t want to control their CPC bids manually.
  • Manual Tagging – As opposed to auto tagging, this option allows advertisers to tag their destination URLs manually with “_utm” information that can be read and understood by Analytics or 3rd party tracking solutions. These are also used heavily in email blasts, promotional campaigns and more.
  • Match Type – Matching option that allows advertisers to control when their ad triggers for a particular search query.
  • My Client Center (MCC) – A powerful tool for handling multiple AdWords accounts. MCCs are ideal for large advertisers with more than one account.
  • Negative Keywords – Advertisers add negative keywords to their account so their ads do not display when a customer types in a search query containing that keyword.  Negative keywords help you qualify the clicks to your site more effectively.
  • Opportunities Tab – Located in the AdWords interface, this is a tool designed to help you get the most out of your PPC campaigns. Common suggestions include budget recommendations, potential keyword additions and more.  These are all automated opportunities, so use the opportunities tab with caution.
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) – A method of advertising where the advertiser pays for each click received through the search engines.
  • Pay-Per-Click Management – Service provided by certified agencies or individuals that help businesses achieve their PPC goals and maximize returns.
  • Phrase Match – Keyword setting that allows ads to show only when someone’s search includes the exact phrase of your keyword or close variations of the specific keyword phrase.
  • Placement Exclusions – Similar to a negative keyword, exclusions prevent your ads from appearing on individual websites or categories of websites. These are designed to help increase relevancy and control of ad placement on the Display Network.
  • Product Listing Ads (PLA) – Search ads that include rich product information, such as images, pricing, and business names, without requiring additional keywords or ad text. Ads of this nature appear under the Google Shopping results automatically for consumer queries relating to one of your product offerings.
  • Quality Score – A complex and partially hidden formula used by search engines that takes CTR and several other factors into account in order to decide whether your keywords are relevant to your ads and landing page.  This is multiplied with your max CPC to calculate your Ad Rank to see what your ad position will be.
  • Remarketing – Allows advertisers to show ads to users who’ve previously visited your website as they browse other sites on the Display Network. This creates a network of high-intent and relevant users that have the opportunity to click on your ad and return to your site to make a purchase.
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) – Ratio of money gained or lost on an investment relative to the amount of advertising (PPC) money invested.
  • Return on Investment (ROI) – Ratio of money gained or lost on an investment relative to the amount of money invested.
  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – Form of online marketing that involves the promotion of web properties by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages and through paid online advertisements like PPC.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Process of increasing organic traffic from search engines results pages. All major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have such results, where web pages and other content are analyzed and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to the user.
  • Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – The listings a user sees in the search engines after typing in a search query. The results typically consist of a series of Organic listings and Paid or sponsored search ads.
  • Search Network – A group of search-related websites where your ads can appear, including Google search sites and search partners.
  • Search Partners – Websites partnered with Google to show PPC advertisements on the Search Network.  They can be opted out of in the Google interface, but advertisers don’t have the ability to bid exclusively on search partners.
  • Search Query – A basic search query is what the user enters when searching on any search engine.  If their search includes the keywords that you are bidding on your ad will appear (depending on match types and all of the other targeting options, of course).
  • Search Query Report (SQR) – Also known as a “search terms report”, this allows advertisers to review the actual search queries that triggered their PPC ads. This report is great for identifying new profitable keyword ideas and blocking irrelevant queries.
  • Shared Budgets – AdWords budgeting option that allows advertisers to specify a particular amount for a group of campaigns to spend in a given day. This can be a good way to avoid spreading budget too thin, particularly in smaller accounts.
  • Sitelinks Extensions – Feature that displays links to different pages of a website beneath the ad text. Sitelinks can appear in ads at the top and bottom of the SERPs and for some search partners.  Sitelinks need to direct users to a different destination URL than what your main ad points to.
  • Social Extensions – Type of AdWords extension that displays public brand endorsements (+1’s). However, you must have a Google+ page to be considered eligible.
  • Text Ad – The standard type of AdWords ad, which typically includes a headline (25 characters in length), two lines of descriptive text (35 characters per line), and a display and destination URL (the display URL is limited to 35 characters).
  • Text Placeholders – Placeholder variables, such as {param2} and {param3}, allow users to simultaneously update multiple ads in your campaign all at once. One or more placeholders can be added to the ad title, ad text, display URL, or destination URL of multiple ads.
  • Top vs. Side – Refers to a paid ad’s placement on the SERPs. Ads can appear at the top of the page or along the right-hand side of the page. This can be helpful since an ad’s performance can oftentimes be affected by position.
  • Topics Targeting – Targeting method that allows advertisers to show ads on other websites around the Display Network that feature content related to your selected topics.  Topics targeting is based on the content of the websites and how Google classifies them.
  • Tracking Code – Small snippet of HTML added to a “thank you” page that shows what happens after a customer clicks on an ad and enables the free conversion-tracking tool.
  • Traffic Estimator – Free AdWords tool that predicts how well a particular keyword could perform based on local and global search volume. Advertisers can also use this tool to research average prices and ad positions as well.
  • TrueView Video Ads – Available in in-stream, in-slate, in-search and/or in-display formats, these are video ads through AdWords that give viewers the choice over which messages they want to see and when.
  • View-Through Conversion – Provides a measurement of the number of online conversions that happened within 30 days after a user saw a Google Display Network ad, didn’t click on that ad, and then converted via another means.

As with most things these days, nothing is perfect, so feel free to let us know if you see anything missing from our (hopefully) comprehensive list!

If you’re all set, check out our guides section for more extensive PPC content!

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.payne.5688476 Robert Payne

    In this industry, the acronyms and terminology are evolving so fast it is nice to have a list to go to. Thanks, PPC Hero!

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com PPC Hero

      You’re welcome, Robert! We’re glad that you liked it.

  • Roy Holcombe

    Excellent job! Thank You!

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com PPC Hero

      We’re glad you liked it! Thanks for reading.

  • Rabbani Hussain

    I am new to PPC, I found it great.

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com PPC Hero

      Welcome to the wonderful world of PPC! Thanks for reading.

  • http://trevelation.wordpress.com/ Chandra81

    This one is cool. Somebody asked me what is DKI and I was stumped. Thank you for helping me out and so many others like me :-)

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com PPC Hero

      Glad that you found it useful!

  • Ankur Koul

    is there a way i can bulk change the frequency cap for all the campaigns in my Adwords account using Editor?

    • http://www.hanapinmarketing.com PPC Hero

      Unfortunately we don’t know of a way. It doesn’t look like that is available in the most recent edition of the editor. If you figure out a way please let us know!

  • Gajendra

    This information is completely remarkable. I didn’t know half of this.Do I also get something in regards to 5 caution points while creating ads or probably essentials While starting a campaign for a new bee.

  • http://bloggersideas.com/ Jitendra Vaswani

    Awesome Sir, This guide to acronym is really helpful to me :)