Definitions for Common Digital Marketing Acronyms and Terms

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digital-marketing-acronyms-terms
There are many terms, acronyms, and initialisms that are used in the analytics community and they aren’t always easy to keep track of, especially if you are new to this field.

Being in the business, we use these terms regularly, so phrases common to us may not be common to others. Because of this, it is helpful to take a step back and ask ourselves, “does this all make sense to our readers?” Most of the time we make the assumption that if someone is reading our blog, it is because the reader is also in the analytics world and is looking for some new information and/or tips, but this may not always be the case.

Whether you’re new or experienced, this is a handy guide for a lot of the terms and acronyms that we use that you will hear and can learn more about. A lot of these terms blend together with other concepts and the products that this industry uses, so if any of these terms spark your interest, feel free to visit the linked blog(s) that go over each subject in greater depth.

My recommendation? Bookmark this page for easy access in the future! As you’re reading blogs around the web, you can always refer back to our guide for help understanding the lingo.


AW

Category: Google AdWords

AdWords is another great tool that we use here at LunaMetrics that we use to get webpages to appear, as an ad, above Google’s search results. We can also use it to show promotional ads in Gmail. AdWords is customizable and can be used very creatively to make sure that people who may be interested in your page are able to get to it quickly. LunaMetrics offers trainings in AdWords along with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Here is our calendar of trainings across the US if you are interested.

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API

Stands For: Application Program Interface
Category: General

APIs are ways of getting specific information from other applications or websites, which you can use for a variety of different needs. Not all websites share their information publicly, which should be comforting to hear, and there are different ways that the data can be structured and accessed, which you need to be aware of when using APIs. In other words, you need to ask the other database a question (or query the data) in the right way to get the answer that you want. We can use APIs to do many things, for instance, pulling information from Google Analytics to show in another program like Tableau or Excel, or programmatically adjusting bids inside of Google AdWords. Or, we might grab information from another website and pass that into our Google Analytics for deeper insight.

Let’s say you have a site like Zillow.com that shows houses that are for sale. You suspect that your online activity, and especially active leads, are related to market interest rates. Let’s use an API! Get data on the daily market interest rate from a public database (query this database) and integrate that with your traffic data. You can now compare data from multiple databases in one report. If you want to do a full statistical analysis on correlation, you can do that too, and here is some information on that, just in case.

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CID

Stands For: Client ID
Category: Google Analytics

A unique number that is assigned to a user when the person visits a webpage. This allows Google Analytics to track when the same person visits a website multiple times. The client id is stored in a cookie on a user’s browser/device.

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CLV

Stands For: Customer Lifetime Value
Category: Google AdWords

Customer lifetime value is an estimate of how much revenue/profit you could make from a single customer over their lifetime. For example, most of the time I will buy my shoes from a single online retailer because I am happy with their selection and service. To that company, I will have a higher lifetime value than someone who is not brand or company loyal and buys shoes from whatever company has what they are looking for right at that time.

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Cookie

Stands For: A unique value stored on your browser assigned by a website
Category: Google Analytics

A cookie is a small file that is stored on your computer that contains some informatoin. Google Analytics uses this to store the client id. Cookies are stored separately on each browser and device. For example, I have a cookie value set at lunametrics.com for my phone’s Chrome browser, my personal computer’s Chrome browser, and for each browser that I use in the office. If you’d like to count each person as the same user across devices, you can set a unique identifier to a person that will be consistent across all browsers and devices for a single person. This identifier is called a User ID. We see this implemented more commonly with Ecommerce sites where a sales cycle for a single person can span multiple sessions over different devices – how many times have you looked at something on Amazon on your phone, saved it to your cart, then reviewed and completed your purchase later from your computer?

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CPA

Stands For: Cost Per Acquisition
Category: Google AdWords

See description for CPC – Cost Per Click for more details

CPC

Stands For: Cost Per Click
Category: Google AdWords

I am going to bunch these together for simplicity. CPC and PPC are how much a business pays when their website ad is clicked on from a search ad. CPM is similar in that you pay for advertising, but this one is specific to impressions, or how many times it is shown. The “M” in CPM is the roman numeral for 1,000, so CPM is the Cost Per 1,000 impressions. CPA is the other side of the same coin as CPC. CPA is what you are willing to pay in advertising to get a goal conversion (download content, register, purchase, etc). Google will then dynamically modify your advertisement bids amounts to get you the number of visits that lead to conversions. Though this may sound like the perfect solution, there are pros and cons to each method – I suggest looking into this more so you know how your money will be used for advertising!

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CPM

Stands For: Cost Per Mille (per 1000 people)
Category: Google AdWords

See description for CPC – Cost Per Click for more details

CRO

Stands For: Conversion Rate Optimization
Category: Google AdWords

Optimizing for your conversion rate can be accomplished many ways and a lot depends on the conversion you’re optimizing for. For metrics on your site, this may involve conversions like purchases or forms submissions, and you can try to optimize for these through testing landing page content or call-to-actions with AB Testing. For ad clickthrough rates or phone conversions, this may involve testing different types of ads, ad extensions, or testing variations on wording and call-to-actions.

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CSS

Stands For: Cascading Style Sheet
Category: General

CSS is a markup language used with HTML to add some personality to a webpage. It adds styling rules, like the size or color of something, to specific HTML elements on the page. CSS rules can be very specific and target unique items on the page that are identified with an ID, or more general, targeting a range of items that are identified with a class. At LunaMetrics and in the analytics community, we often piggyback on these formatting rules with CSS Selectors to watch for interactions with specific items on the page or to find specific items on the page and pull information from them.

dataLayer

Stands For: The Data Layer
Category: Google Tag Manager

The dataLayer has a strong connection to Google Tag Manager, making it easy to take information from your website and use that information in Google Tag Manager. From there, you can make decisions as well as send that data to Google Analytics. This information typically comes from your server and is populated into the data layer, a JavaScript object, that lives on your page. It’s a collection of keys and values, like “userId” and “123.” I think of the dataLayer as a basket that can already have items in it when the page loads, plus you can put more information in it as the user interacts with your site. Google Tag Manager can sort through this data and tell Google Analytics what it sees.

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DCLID

Stands For: Display Click Identifier
Category: Google AdWords

Similar to the GCLID, the DCLID is information in the query parameter of a link that sends information to Google Analytics when an advertisement is clicked. The difference between a DCLID and a GCLID is that a DCLID is specific to display ads.

Dimensions

Category: Google Analytics

Dimensions – one of my favorite terms that we have in Google Analytics, and every time I hear it I think of the opening monologue in The Twilight Zone, “You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.” Thank you, Rod Serling, for that one!

To bring it back to Google Analytics, dimensions refer to how your data is grouped together for descriptive reporting needs. There are a lot of dimensions that are automatically reported in Google Analytics, such as: “Landing Page,” “Device,” and “Location,” to name a few. We also have the ability to create custom dimensions, like “GMT Time Zone.”

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DKI

Stands For: Dynamic Keyword Insertion
Category: Google AdWords

Dynamic Keyword Insertion is a way of adding a user’s keywords in your own ads, if relevant. Let’s continue with my shoe selling example here. Let’s say your site sells shoes, and you are running an AdWords campaign on the keyword “shoes.” A user could type in “professional shoes for the office” into Google’s search engine, and your ad could win the auction and your website is displayed, but your ad only says “Shoe Shop.” With Dynamic Keyword Insertion, your ad can take the user’s query and change your display text to “Professional Shoe Shop.” If I was the one searching, that would seem like exactly what I am looking for! To clarify, this doesn’t mean that any keyword that someone types in will appear in your ad, only targeted keywords that you establish will be added, if used.

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GA

Stands For: Google Analytics
Category: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the main tool that we use here at LunaMetrics that compiles all of the data that a website sends to it. After receiving the data, GA will filter and display the data based on your configurations. There are many ways to set up your configurations, and it is all based on what your website and company needs! Check out our many blogs to see what information you can implement. We also offer trainings across the US in Google Analytics if you prefer to learn in-person.

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GCLID

Stands For: Google Click Identifier
Category: Google AdWords

The GCLID information in the query parameter that sends information to Google Analytics when an ad is clicked. This can be autmatically added by AdWords by “enabling autotagging”. When your accounts are linked properly, the GCLID is used by Google Analytics to connect back to Google AdWords to pull in all of the information about the ad that was clicked, including cost per click, destination url, matched search query, adgroup, and more.

GMB

Stands For: Google My Business
Category: Google AdWords

Have you ever seen the cards that are displayed on Google Maps or a search result that show a business’ hours, directions, phone number, website link, and other details in one convenient card? That’s Google My Business. It is a great way to make sure that people get quick information about your physical business location right when they search for it.

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GMC

Stands For: Google Merchant Center
Category: Google AdWords

The Google Merchant Center is the hub of Google’s business services that you can explore to find solutions and suggestions that fit your business needs. This includes online and offline strategies, such as: Android Pay, Google AdWords, Inventory Ads, and more.

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GTM

Stands For: Google Tag Manager
Category: Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is just one way to add Google Analytics to your website. By making it easier make changes and add tracking, GTM can help you take your Google Analytics data to new heights. Though Google Analytics has some great “out of the box” features, Google Tag Manager is what lets you customize the data that you send to Google Analytics and track activities like downloads, form interaction, YouTube video plays (that are on your site), and much more. We have a whole category of blogs that you can look at for ideas or help!

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HTML

Stands For: Hypertext Markup Language
Category: General

HTML is the code used on most of the webpages today. It is what gives a simple structure to headers, sub headers, links, and text for your site content. Understanding HTML will help you as you attempt to track different actions on your site or pull information from your page.

HTTP Referrer

Category: General

In short, the HTTP or HTTPS referrer is the page that you just came from. For example, if you are on google.com and do a search for LunaMetrics, then click on our page from the search result, your referrer is https://www.google.com. You may also see HTTPS, which means that there is a secure and encrypted connection between your browser and the server of the webpage. Fun fact: though you see “referrer” used most of the time, it was a typo! It should be spelled “referer.” Years ago when this was being established, referrer was continuously used and now many functions of the internet today depend on the incorrect spelling. In other words, we use the error today because we used the error before, and fixing the problem would break many functions that we use today. Referrer it is!

JavaScript

Category: General

The mighty JavaScript is a programming language that underlies the majority of websites on the internet. JavaScript handles interactions with web pages very well, which is what a lot of us in the analytics community monitor on different websites.

jQuery

Category: General

jQuery is a library that extends the functionality of JavaScript. By loading this library on your page, it makes it easier to manipulate elements and content on the page, listen for events or actions taken by the user, and more. Without getting lost in all the different possibilities when using jQuery, check out these other posts we have that discuss using jQuery in different implementations.

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Metrics

Category: Google Analytics

Metrics are attributes of our data that we can measure. Think of these as the numbers that we see in Google Analytics. To remember easily, they are Counts, Currency, Calculations, or Clock (time elements.) This can include number of hits, time on page, bounce rates, and more! Like custom dimensions, we can also create custom metrics. Check out the Google Support page for more information on default and custom dimensions and metrics.

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OSE

Stands For: Open Site Explorer
Category: SEO

OSE tools let you search indexed webpages like a search engine to see how, and sometimes why, your site performs the way it does in a search. One of the OSE tools we use here is Moz, which shows the authority of your website, based on how other websites use or direct traffic to your page. There are some other detailed features to it as well, but think of it as a service that gives your website a credit score based on your activity and content. If you have large search engines that regularly point people to your site or if you have credible news publishers or blog sites with links to your page, you will get a higher domain authority rating (your domain credit score). If you don’t have any mention of your page through the web, your domain authority will be lower. Search engines run similar calculations when determining which pages to show as top results.

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PLA

Stands For: Product Listing Ad (Now Shopping Ads)
Category: Google AdWords

Similar to the text ads we run in Google AdWords, we also have product listing ads. The concept is the same in that you pay for advertisement space at the top of a search result, but now instead of simply showing your website link, the search result will display a banner of your product images with the information you provide, plus a link to your website.

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PPC

Stands For: Pay Per Click
Category: Google AdWords

See description for CPC – Cost Per Click for more details

QS

Stands For: Quality Score
Category: SEO

Quality Scores are not a measure of the performance or how “good or bad” Google thinks your ad is, which is a common assumption when companies start using AdWords. A quality score is more of a relevance rating based on multiple factors working together, including keywords, landing page relevance, and ad relevance, that determines whether or not your ad is displayed. There are other factors that play into this, which you can see in the posts below!

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RegEx / Regular Expressions

Category: General

Regular Expressions are a way of referring to different strings or parts of data to make your selections very specific or inclusive. We love regular expressions here at LunaMetrics and we have contributed to Google’s support documentation on how to use them. Don’t believe me? Check it out!

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Remarketing

Category: Google AdWords

Remarketing allows you to customize your advertisements for specific groups of people. You do this by taking something we know about a group of users, which can be from information they provide through a form or through activity on our website, and customizing the advertising content they see moving forward. Check out our case study with Teach For America to see an example of how this can be used.

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ROAS

Stands For: Return On Advertisement Spending
Category: Google AdWords

After you start using AdWords, you will want to see if it has made an impact! Here is where you check your ROAS. This is a calculation of the result (purchases, downloads, pagviews, etc) divided by how much was spent on advertising.

SEM

Stands For: Search Engine Marketing
Category: Google AdWords

Have you noticed the little yellow boxes that say “ad” next to the top links after you make a search? That’s search engine marketing! Because most users select from the first options that are shown in the search results, businesses pay to get their website link at the top hoping that people will click their link. This is done through AdWords for Google search results, and other search engines (Bing, Yahoo, etc) have similar tools.

SEO

Stands For: Search Engine Optimization
Category: SEO

Search Engine Optimization is the umbrella term that encompases all things related to how users use search engines, see their results, and click on one of the visible options. Often, this involves making sure your website is easily readable to search engines by using the correct terms on your site, proper technical implementation, structured data, and more. To “optimize” the search engine results to get your page as a top result and clicked on, it will probably take a combination of the search and AdWords related tools mentioned through this post. If you don’t know what secret sauce of search tools and strategies to use, talk to us! We have a full team of people who do this for our clients every day.

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SERP

Stands For: Search Engine Result Page
Category: SEO

The SERP is what you first see after you enter your search terms. You normally see a few paid ads on the top, some organic search results beneath, and maybe even some business information displayed on a card if your search term(s) triggered that. This is valuable space to digital marketers because most people don’t scroll down to see more results, and even less people click on the next page option for Google search results. Users are used to seeing what they need right at the top, and if it’s not there, they refine their search and try again – scrolling is too much work!

SMX

Stands For: Search Marketing Expo
Category: SEO

A search marketing expo is a conference where leaders in the digital search industry come together to share ideas and insights for different strategies. If you are someone who is in this industry, there can be a lot to gain by talking to others who have been doing this for years and hearing what does and doesn’t work. Why reinvent the wheel, right? We’ll be talking at the SMX West 2017 in San Jose in March!

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Tag

Category: Google Tag Manager

Tags, triggers, and variables are used together within Google Tag Manager to send information to Google Analytics. Once the trigger has been satisfied, the tag is thing that is added to our page. For instance, a Google Analytics tag wraps together all the data we give it and sends it to Google Analytics to process. We can also use tags for Google tools like Google AdWords and Google Optimize, for third-party tools like Facebook or Pinterest, or to add Custom HTML to our site.

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TLD

Stands For: Top Level Domain
Category: SEO

Top Level Domains indicate how your website is registered. Is your page a .com, .gov, or .edu? (This list goes on!) These options were more structured in the past and gave everyone some immediate knowledge about your web page before visiting. Nowadays, .gov and .edu are still used consistently, but .com can have a very wide range of types of pages. You can even register a new TDL for your own website! Instead of our website being www.lunametrics.com, we could be www.luna.metrics!

Trigger

Category: Google Tag Manager

A trigger is an action that we are interested in, like loading a page, or clicking a button, for example. Once a trigger has been satisfied, we can connect triggers to tags to tell Google Tag Manager when something should be fired.

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URI

Stands For: Uniform Resource Identifier
Category: Google Analytics

URI is the technical umbrella term for many of the things we can use in the address bar of our browser, which include URLs and URNs. You’ll see URI in Google Analytics when you set up View Filters because URI is the umbrella term that ecompases both URLs and URNs. You can just think of this as the URL.

URL

Stands For: Uniform Resource Locator
Category: Google Analytics

URLs are what we use in the address bar of our browser to tell our computer where to get the information we want, like a specific website. You’ll see URI in Google Analytics when you set up View Filters because URI is the umbrella term that ecompases both URLs and URNs. You can just think of this as the URL.

URL Parameter

Category: General

The URL parameter, or query parameter, is the part of the URL that starts with the quesetion mark (?). The query parameter can have different uses based on how a website was designed, and can also provide lots of informatoin to our Google Analytics reports. The query parameter usually consists of key and value pairs (key=value) and is joined together by ampersands (&). We use UTM campaigns in the query parameter because Google Analytics will automatically map the informaion it receives into the reports. We also use GCLID information to send advertising information from a click to Google Analytics.

UserID

Stands For: User ID
Category: Google Analytics

Different from the client ID, a random number assigned from the Google Analytics tracker, the User ID comes from your website or your backend server. This is a unique, non-personally-identifiable way for you to identify an individual, like a random string of characters. Typically, we have this somewhere on our site and we can set this parameter when a person logs in to our website..

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UTM

Stands For: Urchin Tracking Module
Category: Google Analytics

UTM stands for “Urchin Tracking Module,” and though you will probably never hear anyone say what UTM stands for, you can keep this fun fact in your pocket for a conversation later. You will probably hear “UTM Campaign” instead, which is a way of passing information to Google Analytics though the query parameter of a URL. For example, you can use a UTM Campaign to see how many people arrived at your website by clicking a link in your email. The link to your website includes query parameters that you fill in with the campaign, source, and medium information attached. This information then populates into your Google Analytics reports. Because the URLs do get a bit long using this method, we often implement this using hyperlinks or redirects from a shorter link.

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UX

Stands For: User Experience
Category: SEO

User experience is brought up when looking at the design and functionality of a webpage to make sure that people users can quickly get the information that they are looking for. This also plays into how a site is listed on a search result. How does Google know which sites are “user friendly”? Well, they look at which pages a user go to after they enter their search terms. If they visit a result page, then quickly come back and visit a few more, that tells Google that the user didn’t find what they wanted. If this happens a few times, it will not be a big deal, but if it is continuous it may have an effect. Google will also look to see if a user comes back to the search and modifies their keywords to something more specific.

Variable

Category: Google Tag Manager

The variable can be a static or dynamic piece of information that we can include in a tag or trigger. Static variables can be something like your Google Analytics tracking number or a lookup table, which are things you want to use later without having to remember type it in manually. A dynamic variable could be something that is pulled off of the page, like “Click Text” or “Page Title,” which are both things that will change as a user interacts with the page, but are consistent in the type of information collected.

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Donovan is a Junior Consultant at LunaMetrics, and an MBA student at the University of Pittsburgh. He enjoys connecting consumer behavior to business strategy, which led him to LunaMetrics and Pitt's program for Analytics and Marketing. Out of the office, Donovan is learning to play golf and he tries to lower his score each time he plays.

  • Quite interesting read. We make use of many acronyms and terms without bothering to know the meaning. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  • indrajit

    Very informative blog

  • What a great read! If I can pull all that together I should be able to get somewhere.

  • Always too many but whatever happened to KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid

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