Glossary of terms

Digital Advertising, A-to-Z

Digital advertising is the land of acronyms and technical terms. Our glossary can help you make sense of it all with definitions of the most common terminology.


A/B Test

Comparative test in which an audience is split (usually in half) and two alternative solutions or features are run on each subset. It is used to compare the performance of one solution or feature against the other.

Above the Fold

An ad is above the fold when the ad is placed within the viewframe of the content. In other words, it is visible on the consumer’s screen after page or app loads.


Acquisition advertising is a marketing goal designed to grow an organization’s customer base, drive traffic visits or grow sales.

Active Elements

Design components of an ad such as logos, call to action, descriptions, and ratings that are dynamically combined with images from a product catalog to create customized native ads.

Ad Exchange

An ad exchange is a neutral technology platform that facilitates the buying and selling of advertising inventory. Ad prices are determined through bidding in a real-time auction (also known as RTB (Real-Time Bidding)).

Ad Formats

A specification for advertising creative that often includes whether the ad will contain text, audio or graphical content, the size of the creative and the web-enabled device used to view the creative. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has defined standard ad formats, there are also native formats which are custom to a site.

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Ad Layout

The way the components of a banner (e.g., product images, prices, descriptions, titles) are organized within a banner.

Ad Tech

Ad tech, short for "advertising technology", are technology services that provide marketers with the ability to engage people across digital properties to achieve marketer-specified outcomes (e.g., brand awareness, engagement, consideration, conversion) and provide media owners selling & yield tools to better monetize their inventory.

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Adaptive Conversion Optimization (ACO)

A Criteo AI Engine feature and the evolution of conversion optimization. ACO maximizes the number of client sales with a Cost per Order (CPO) target by dynamically adjusting bids every hour.

Adaptive Design

Design that adapts digital content to the consumer’s device and browser.

Addressable Advertising

Advertising that relies on identifiers to improve the planning, engagement, measurement and optimization of digital advertising.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning (ML).

ML is a subset of AI which allows a machine to automatically learn from past data without programming explicitly. The goal of AI is to automate decisions to solve complex problems that previously required a human-in-the-loop. AI/ML effectiveness is improved when supplied with scaled, accurate and timely data.

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A set of rules established for making a calculation. Criteo AI Engine uses algorithms to predict and recommend.

App-Events SDK

The App-Events Software Development Kit (SDK) is an easy-to-use developer toolkit that supports the complete feature set of Criteo Dynamic Retargeting and accurately collects in-app events and transactions.

Audience Targeting

The practice of separating consumers into groups based on different criteria in order to deliver more customized advertising.

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Average Cart

The average revenue generated by a campaign’s sales. This number is calculated by dividing the total revenue by the total sales.


Banner Ad

An online advertisement placed on a publisher’s webpage and linked to an advertiser’s page. A traditional display banner usually has a preset size (e.g., 300X250 pixels) and often includes a combination of images and text.


A list of IP addresses, publishers, advertisers, or products that should be excluded from a campaign.


California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

A law that secures new privacy rights for California consumers. Learn more about it here.

Call to Action (CTA)

A specific button within the ad inviting the user to click through on text, like “Buy Now.”


Buckets of users for which the advertiser has a set Key Performance Indicator (KPI). Campaign examples include Lower Funnel, Mid-Funnel, Customers, Non-Customers.


Frequency capping means restricting (capping) the number of times (frequency) a specific visitor to a website is shown a particular ad.

Catalog Feed

Advertiser’s product inventory. A product in the feed will typically include a product’s ID, name, description, category, image URL, and the product’s URL on the advertiser’s website.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Shows how often people who see your ad end up clicking on it. CTR is calculated by dividing the number of clicks on an ad by the number of impressions served.

Click/Click Through

Each time a user clicks on an ad and is taken to an advertiser’s website.

Cohort audiences

Google’s Cohort Audiences assigns each browser to a single audience segment, based on their browsing behaviors. Cohorts are mutually exclusive, meaning each browser belongs to one and only one Cohort.

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Commerce audience

A Criteo audience that enables advertisers to target prospects who are interested in specific categories or brands, or with specific socio-demographic features. Learn more.

Commerce Media

Digital advertising that combines commerce data and intelligence to help marketers and media owners drive commerce outcomes.

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Commerce Media Platform

A suite of Criteo products that activates the world’s largest set of commerce data to bring richer experiences to consumers.

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Competition Win %

The share of targeted impressions that you won on the display market.


Composer is a core component of DCO+. It allows Creative Services to build a digital design framework for each client based on its brand guidelines.

Connected TV Advertising (CTV)

Ads served within shows and movies that are streamed via over-the-top (OTT) services on any connected TV (those with a built-in internet connection), or streaming device (like Apple TV or Roku).

Contextual audiences

These can be built using a variety of data points. Online contextual relies on technology that reads the content of a page and summarizes the content topic and sentiment (positive or negative). Real world signals can also be analyzed, such as weather, time of day, and location.

Contextual targeting

Contextual targeting matches an ad to a website page, based on the content of that page. It enables advertisers to display ads to groups of consumers based on their interests and a website’s page content.

Conversion Rate (CR)

The percentage of people who clicked on an ad and completed the desired action.


A piece of data stored on a user’s web browser that enables advertisers to recognize users and serve them a personalized ad.

Cookie-less targeting

Targeting techniques that don’t require identifying a user, for example using contextual signals to add insight into a user, or by using aggregated or cohort targeting which relies on grouping like users but not identifying individuals.

Cost of Sales (COS)

The ratio between the total cost of the campaign and the sales that the campaign generated. In other words, your ad cost as a percentage of revenue. COS is calculated by dividing ad spend by revenue driven.

Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)

The amount an advertiser spends for a user's action, i.e. a purchase, a form submission, a completed booking. Calculated as total cost divided by total conversions.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

The price you pay each time a user clicks on your ad. Calculated as total cost divided by total clicks.

Cost Per Install (CPI)

The price you pay for each app install. Calculated as total cost divided by total installs.

Cost Per Lead (CPL)

The price you pay for each lead generated, usually identified as a form fill where contact information is obtained. Calculated as total cost divided by total leads.

Cost Per Mille (CPM)

The price you pay per one thousand impressions. Calculated as total cost divided by total impressions times 1,000.

Cost Per Order (CPO)

The price you pay for each order. Calculated as total cost divided by total number of orders.

Cost Per View (CPV)

The price you pay each time a video ad is viewed. Typically, a user must watch for at least 30 seconds for it to count as a view. Calculated as total cost divided by total views.

Criteo AI Engine

Consists of multiple machine learning algorithms and proprietary hard- and software infrastructure that enables Criteo’s solution to operate in real time and at significant scale. Learn more.


Data Management Platform (DMP)

Software-based solution that aggregates and processes data feeds that provide insights into audiences and targeting for buyers and sellers of ads.

Demand-Side Platform (DSP)

Technology platform that provides centralized and aggregated media buying from multiple sources, including ad exchanges, ad networks, and sell-side platforms, often using real-time bidding capabilities of these sources.

Digital shelf

The online equivalent of the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. The digital shelf is where a brand's product is displayed online, and can include search results and product detail pages on retailer websites and apps, marketplaces, and other ecommerce channels.

Display Advertising

Visual ads placed on websites, social media networks, or apps. They are typically image, text, or video banner ads that when clicked on, take a user to a website or landing page.

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Dynamic Ads

An ad automatically personalized for the user viewing it in order to create additional engagement and conversions.

Dynamic Creative Optimization+ (DCO+)

A core feature of the Criteo AI Engine. DCO+ is a dynamic creative optimization technology that uses insights from the Criteo Shopper Graph to generate personalized ads for every individual in real-time.


Effective Cost Per Mille (eCPM)

Revenue the engine predicts Criteo can achieve on each impression. The computation of the eCPM depends on the relevant KPI selected by the advertiser (CTR/CR/COS).


First-party cookie (1P cookie)

When an advertiser or publisher stores a user's information in a cookie on their own website, it’s a 1st party cookie.

First-party data (1P data)

Any information that is gathered directly between the company and the consumer. This could be web-site usage, CRM, email address, or other.


Proposed by Google as an audience targeting scenario for Chrome, FLEDGE allows advertisers, publishers, and ad tech to add users to the cohorts that they define.

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Proposed by Google as an audience targeting scenario for Chrome, the “Federated Learning of Cohorts” (FLoC) creates lookalike audiences based on machine learning.

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Full-Funnel Marketing

A strategy that addresses the full shopper journey and incorporates objectives for all three stages of the purchase funnel: awareness, consideration, and conversion.


General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The EU GDPR harmonizes data privacy laws across Europe. It protects the privacy of EU citizens and applies to all companies collecting or processing personal data on individuals in the EU, even if not established in the EU.


Hashed Email

Encrypted email collected from advertisers to enable cross-device advertising. A hashed email is an email address that’s been coded into a unique hexadecimal string that can’t be decrypted. This ensures secure privacy of the email address’s owner.

Head to Head Test (H2H)

A period during which an advertiser will run two competing solutions at the same time to assess which one performs better.

Header Bidding

Header bidding is an advanced programmatic technique wherein publishers offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before making calls to their ad servers.


Identity Graph

Criteo Shopper Graph data collective that connects online and offline shopper IDs across devices, browsers, apps, and environments.


The number of times your ads are displayed to a user on publishers’ websites.

Insertion Order (IO)

The contract signed by an advertiser/agency to validate a new budget for an advertising campaign. It is signed by the advertiser.

Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)

Organization that sets standards and guidelines for digital ad units.

Interest Map

Criteo Shopper Graph data collective that links a shopper’s historical browsing and transaction patterns to standard product, category, and brand identifiers.


Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

The target or result that you want to achieve. In other words, it’s how you measure the success of a campaign. Common KPIs are ROAS, COS, and CPO.


Liquid Design

Liquid ad layouts are based on percentages of the current browser window’s size. They remain consistent in size and relative page weight regardless of who is viewing the page.

Lookalike Finder

A core feature of the Criteo AI Engine. It creates audiences called Similar Audiences by using AI and the Criteo Shopper Graph to accurately identify new users with similar characteristics to a company’s best customer.


Management Center (formerly CPP)

Criteo’s performance-monitoring interface used both internally and externally to track the daily performance of advertisers and publishers and to monitor/change budgets and CPC of our advertisers.

Measurement Data

A Criteo Shopper Graph data collective that tracks every sale that occurs from a brand-funded retail campaign, and is able to report at the SKU, audience, and placement level.

Mobile Ads

Standardized ad units designed for mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Mobile advertising identifiers (MAIDs)

Unique and anonymous identifiers provided by a mobile device’s operating system. Apple plans to change the usage of its mobile identifiers (IDFA) on Apple devices to ask users to “opt-in” before enabling ad tracking in apps.


Native Ads

Ads that look and feel like the surrounding content in an attempt to improve the user experience by letting ads blend into the content backdrop. Ads on the Facebook News feed are a good example of native ads.


Open Internet

The online environments of publishers, retailers, and brands that are outside search and social walled gardens.


Opt-out is the option we give end users to unsubscribe from Criteo’s retargeting solution; anyone can opt out on our Privacy page after clicking on the blue “i” icon on each Criteo banner.

Over-the-Top (OTT)

OTT is any video content "over the top of a cable box". It is an umbrella term that includes both CTV and OLV advertising. Includes services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Sling. This term is considered antiquated and isn't used in Criteo vocabulary.

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A media owner's ability to repurpose an unfilled impression as a buying opportunity for the next buyer in their waterfall. This is an antiquated and largely inefficient way of running a media owner ad stack, but still exists today.

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Personalized marketing uses data to deliver more relevant messages to a desired audience.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

An identifier that links or is intended to link to a person’s directly-identifiable offline identity. Examples include a full name, Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank account number, passport number, or email address. Also called Directly Identifiable Information.

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Post-Click Sales

Purchase made by a consumer on a website or mobile app within a certain period of time following the user clicking on an ad. This period of time varies by but is typically a maximum of 30 days.

Prebid SSO

The ecosystem’s leading open-source notice and choice framework to generate responsible addressable media identifiers and people’s default privacy signals associated with them. The Prebid solution enables people to signal their preferences with a logged out identifier and optionally supports logged in identifiers to synchronize preferences across devices.

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Predicted Click-Through Rate

Expected click-through rate (CTR) for each possible impression that the Criteo AI Engine computes.

Predictive Bidding

AI-driven algorithm that adjusts the bid based on the current context and right time for each consumer.

Preferred Deals

A feature, via Deal ID, that allows media owners to carve out certain inventory for certain buyers, usually at a fixed minimum price.

Premium Ad Inventory

Ad inventory that is considered to be of high quality and is therefore valued at a higher price.

Privacy Mesh

A privacy-by-design method to ingest first party data. Criteo’s Privacy Mesh defines provenance, purpose, and governs usage, storage and auditing for any data contributed to the Criteo Commerce Data Platform. We never re-identify, sell or leak Customer data.

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Private Marketplace (PMP)

A Private Marketplace (PMP) refers to the real-time auction of publishers’ ad inventory in an invite-only set up with a selected number of advertisers. PMP is an invite-only auction where a publisher invites advertisers to bid on its inventory. Due to this “invite-only” feature, this auction is termed as a private auction.

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Product Recommendations

An AI-driven algorithm to improve the match of digital content for specific products based on the shopper’s specific on-site behavior such as navigation, recency, and the types of other products browsed.

Programmatic Advertising

Automated ad buying in real time through a software solution as opposed to the traditional method via phone, email or fax.

Programmatic Direct

See Programmatic Advertising. Programmatic advertising is called "Programmatic Direct" when the deal for buying and selling of this inventory has been made directly between the publisher and advertiser without the involvement of any middlemen. It encompasses programmatic guaranteed deals, preferred deals and private marketplaces (PMP).

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Programmatic Mediation

See Programmatic Advertising. A platform that allows media owners (typically app developers) to plug in multiple demand sources (historically ad networks) to compete for their inventory, usually in a waterfall setup.

Pseudonymous Identifier

A form of identifier where an organization has appropriate technical or operational processes in place to keep this identifier distinct from people’s identity. See the antonym Personally Identifiable Information.


A website that publishes content (news, etc.) and which often monetizes its traffic by selling ad placements.

Publisher monetization

How media owners leverage their data and content to drive revenue through advertising.



Share of the marketer's audience exposed to at least one ad.

Reach & Performance Forecasts

Criteo’s AI-driven estimates the scale of people possible to reach and the outcomes to likely expect for a given campaign based on pre-defined metrics.

Real-Time Audience (RTA)

Protocol invented by Criteo that allows us to communicate with the media owner's ad server to determine whether to show ads to the consumer currently browsing the page.

Real-Time Bidding (RTB)

Buying and selling of ad inventory through a programmatic exchange or software solution. Each ad impression is sold to the highest bidder in real time, in the split second it takes a potential customer’s browser or app to load an ad unit.

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Real-Time Creative Optimization (RTCO)

A sub-feature of DCO+, Criteo’s Real-Time Creative Optimization instantly calculates which set of predefined visual elements will be the most engaging to a specific consumer at any given time in any given context.

Recommendation Engine

Criteo’s AI-driven algorithm surfaces the most relevant items to a particular consumer.


Proprietary technology that allows us to render fully optimized ads on the media owner's page in real time, enabling billions of ad variations to be available within a given campaign.

Reseller Program

Allows retailers to resell Criteo Dynamic Retargeting to their brand partners and allows both parties to reach shoppers with co-branded, dynamic ads delivered across top media owners.

Retail Ads

Retail advertising is the process by which retailers use store advertising (online and offline) to drive awareness and interest towards their products to generate sales from their target audience. Through advertising, a retailer attempts to influence their audience to drive a specific marketing objective.

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Retail Media

A discipline that includes the buying and selling of advertising within retailer websites and apps. The most common ad format is the sponsored product ad, usually shown on search results, category, and/or product detail pages.

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Also called Remarketing, the display of ads to people who have previously interacted with first-party digital web content (e.g. visited a website or engaged with a mobile app).


Customer retention is a marketing goal designed to engage current or previous customers, often by encouraging continued use of an organization’s products or services

Return on Advertising Spend (ROAS)

Shows how much revenue you make for every dollar of ad spend. ROAS is expressed as a ratio, like 2:1.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Digital marketing ROI is usually calculated as Revenue/Cost. Cost usually means initial investment, but also cost of an ad campaign. ROI = 1/COS. In many cases, ROI is equivalent to Return on Ad Spend (ROAS).



When a consumer makes a purchase of the desired product or service.

Same-Device Match

Links different IDs from different applications or browsers on the same device, such as linking a web cookie to a mobile advertising ID.

Second-Price Auction

Mechanism allowing the highest bidder to win, while paying the second-highest bid plus a penny. Encourages buyers to bid their true value, as their paid price will always be equal to or lower than their bid. Second-price auctions are largely being phased out in favor of First-Price Auctions.

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Self-Service Platform

Platform with a front end UI that allows marketers to configure and run campaigns and media owners to set parameters on their inventory and check yield.

Sequenced UX

A storytelling technique that allows a marketer customer to define the frequency and order in which different messages are shown.

Shopper Graph

The Criteo Shopper Graph connects online and offline shopper IDs across devices, browsers, apps, and other environments for a more holistic view of each user, helping to boost sales, product visibility, and profits, by harnessing the collective power of tens of thousands of actively participating advertisers, brands, publishers, and retailers.

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Shoppers visiting the store to find, try, and gather information on the products but eventually buying online.

Similar Audiences

Similar Audiences are audiences that look like the first-party seed data, used by marketers to extend reach. Criteo’s Similar Audiences are the output of Criteo’s Lookalike AI scoring.

Site Optimization

Criteo’s creative optimization technology that in real-time matches the ideal template, and elements within it (e.g., text, image, links), based on data about the viewer and their current environment (e.g., geographic location, connection speed, screen size).

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SPARROW stands for “Secure Private Advertising Remotely Run On Webserver.” Criteo proposed SPARROW to enable audience targeting in Chrome as an alternative to Google’s TURTLEDOVE proposal, some of which have been incorporated into FLEDGE.

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Static Ad

Unlike dynamic banners, the content of static banners is pre-prepared.

Supply-Path Optimization (SPO)

Process in which multiple variables are assessed to drive buyers towards the most efficient buying path. This process reduces the number of intermediaries in the supply-chain until each is adding value.

Supply-Side Platform

Yield optimization tool that publishers’ rely on to optimize the yield of their indirect sold inventory. SSPs act as an aggregator of inventory for media buying solutions. Service options (self, managed, hybrid) for all technology does not change the name of the software accessed by the hands-on-keyboard.

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Tagged User

A user who visited an advertiser’s website whom Criteo identified with a tag (i.e. usually a cookie, but the tag infrastructure can be extended to other forms of identifiers and data collection).

Third-party cookie (3P cookie)

A cookie that is created by domains other than the one a user is visiting directly. 3P cookies store cross-organization addressable identifiers that help improve marketers engagement, measurement and optimization.

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Third-party data (3P data)

Data sold by a partner. 3P data is used to enhance and scale audiences.

Third-Party SSP

A SSP not owned by Criteo. We make our advertising demand available to media owners by integrating our buy-side solution into these other sell-side solutions.

Trade Marketing

A B2B marketing strategy focused on wholesalers, retailers and distributors rather than consumers. Its goal is to increase demand from supply chain partners and to push products in front of consumers. Trade Marketing budgets are shifting to online. Trade Marketing is wider than retail media as it can be both offline & online (e.g. retail media is the most typical channel of online trade marketing).

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Triggered Messaging

A rule set that delivers media based on specific consumer activity, often within a specific time after an event (e.g., send thank you email 24-hours after purchase, or send reminder ad banner 24-hours after an abandoned cart).


TURTLEDOVE (“Two Uncorrelated Requests, Then Locally-Executed Decision On Victory”) proposal attempts to enable consumer retargeting without any marketers receiving any identifier. It operates by making ad auction decisions in the browser itself, rather than at the ad server level. Google has suggested measuring the effectiveness of TURTLEDOVE proposal under the FLEDGE project.

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Unique Visitor

Counting website visitors on a unique level. When a person visits a site or app, the individual is counted once, no matter how many times or pages the person visits, thus creating a better idea of how many people are visiting.

Universal Catalog

The uniformed and enriched catalog of products that is cross partner and is composed of the last enriched catalog of each partner. It evolves continuously with time. It's important for Marketers to maintain a normalized catalog, as it is used to drive personalization and optimization.

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Uplift is the incremental impact of a treatment (i.e. showing an ad). It is measurable via A/B testing.


An individual with access to the Internet. A user can access the Internet through multiple browsers or devices, and thus have multiple cookies/user IDs.

User ID

A token attributed to a technical identifier, such as a cookie or device ID, and specific to a given browser or device.


Video Completion Rate (VCR)

VCR is a widespread KPI for video campaigns, expressed as a percentage. It is the ratio between the number of completed views and the number of exposed consumers. Usually, a consumer must watch a minimum duration on the video ad for it to count as a completed view.

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Viewable Advertising

Viewable advertising is a measure of whether a given advert could actually be seen by a human being, as opposed to being out of view or served as the result of automated activity. It also covers how long a certain ad was visible and viewed by a consumer. The industry-standard usually requires at least 50% pixels of the ad in the browser space for at least 1 second of time (2 seconds usually for video).

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When a consumer who has seen an advert goes to the desired pages or store to get more information.


Walled Gardens

A closed / black-box online environment where advertisers have less access to customer data and have less control over how to measure success. Facebook, Google, Amazon are the best examples of Walled Gardens.

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Shoppers gathering product information online to decide which products to buy but then going to the store to make the purchase.



Ad yield is the amount of revenue you earn from your ads. In other words, it is an indicator of how successful your advertising efforts were.


360° experience

A digital ad that immerses the consumer in a 360-degree experience that they can control, such as using a mouse or by moving their mobile device. An interactive format that invites consumers to have fun with your ads.