Digital Advertising Terminology

Digital advertising is a key part of your overall digital marketing strategy. Whether you are working with University Marketing and Communications (UMC) or another digital advertising vendor, these key terms will help you speak the language, discern KPIs from vanity metrics, and evaluate your return on investment.

  • Campaign / Campaign Goal: A campaign is a strategic set of digital marketing actions which are developed and organized to reach a specific goal. Common campaign goals include brand awareness, increasing website traffic, increase leads, or increasing conversions.
  • Clicks: How many times digital ads are clicked on, as reported by the platform. Some ad platforms use alternative terminology, such as swipes. Clicks are over-reported. Always confirm unique UTM-tagged website traffic in your web analytics platform.
  • Cookie: A tracking file placed on user's devices. Cookies help track digital advertising results, but are prone to being blocked and/or deleted and are becoming obsolete due to user privacy concerns. UMC uses UTM tagging integrated with Slate CRM to accurately measure KPIs.
  • Conversion: When a lead is converted into a sale—or in the case of higher education—an applicant or deposited student.
  • Cost-per-Click (CPC): The average cost of each digital ad click. An expected CPC varies by campaign goals, ad type, and ad platform and is one metric that helps assess the health of a given digital ad or campaign.
  • Cost-per-Mille (CPM): The average cost per 1,000 digital ad impressions. An expected CPM varies by campaign goals, ad type, and ad platform and is one metric that helps assess the health of a given digital ad or campaign.
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management): Software used to manage customers relationships and communications. In-house digital advertiser connect digital ads to leads via their CRM to measure outcomes and success.
  • CTA (Call-to-Action): Every key marketing webpage should have at least one call-to-action—asking the user to perform a key action. Examples include call, email, request, sign-up, or apply.
  • CTR (Click-Through-Rate): The rate at which users click on our digital ads. An expected CTR varies by campaign goals, ad type, and ad platform and is one metric that helps assess the health of a given digital ad or campaign.
  • Frequency: The average number of times any given user on a platform sees a brand's ad during a given duration (typically 30 days). Advertisers set a frequency goal that is high enough to have their brand be remembered, but low enough to avoid ad fatigue and reduce costs.
  • Impressions: When a digital ad comes into view on a user's screen. An impression does not mean that the ad was actually "seen" or read—it means that the user had the opportunity to see the ad.
  • KPIs (Key Performance Indicators): Metrics that demonstrate how effective digital advertising is. KPIs are often not measurable by external vendors. UMC uses new users, new leads, applications, and deposits as our KPIs.
  • Lead: A person who fills out a form or otherwise provides contact information and is stored in an organization's CRM.
  • New User: A website visitor who, according to cookies, has never been to your site before. They may truly have never been to our website before, may have cleared their cookies recently, or may have purchased a new device.
  • Organic Digital Marketing: Promoting your company or products online for free. Often includes posting on the social media accounts that you own, engaging in search engine optimization (SEO), and includes email outreach.
  • Paid Digital Marketing: Running digital advertising online for a fee, usually on a cost per click or impression basis. Ad networks include Google, LinkedIn, Meta, Snap, TikTok, TV (traditional and streaming), etc.
  • RFI (Request for Information): A form that allows the user to request more information about the school or a specific program. Receiving RFIs (leads) fills the top of the admissions funnel.
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization): A subset of organic digital marketing, SEO works to make your webpages and websites optimized so users who search for you online (via Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) find you easily. SEO competition for general phrases, like "mechanical engineering" or "online health certificate", is fierce as everyone is competing for the top search result spot.
  • Sessions: A group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame. A single session can contain multiple page views, events, or transactions, and are executed by one user.
  • Slate: The name of Michigan Tech's CRM software. Slate includes many advanced tracking capabilities, including digital advertising UTM integration and lead nurturing email flows.
  • Unique Pageviews: The number of unique views of a page generated by different users or users in different sessions. If you visit the same webpage five times over the course of a week, you would generate five sessions, but only one unique pageview. UMC uses unique pageviews over pageviews as a KPI because repeated pageviews are less valuable.
  • User: A single person who has visited your site or page, based on tracking cookies. Users can have multiple sessions, and each session can have multiple pageviews.
  • User Acquisition: The process of bringing new users to your website—often through organic and/or paid digital marketing.
  • UTM Tagging: A snippet of code added to the end of a URL to track the performance of digital marketing campaigns and content across platforms. Without UTM tagging, it is difficult to properly attribute results. A good CRM or application system has UTM integration and can track the flow from digital ad to lead to conversion.
  • Vanity Metrics: Metrics or indicators than sound impressive, but are not KPIs. These metrics do not measure campaign success—rely on KPIs instead. Common vanity metrics include impressions, clicks, and likes/reactions.