Posted by Patrick McCafferty on July 10th, 2017

Enhance your programmatic advertising acumen with MedData Group’s programmatic glossary, featuring the latest digital advertising terminology. Whether you are a digital advertising veteran or are newer to the field, we recommend bookmarking this glossary for a handy, at-a-glance reference. If you’d like to learn more about our HCP Digital ID data solution to accurately target HCPs in your programmatic campaigns, please click here.

1st Party Data

“1st party data” refers to information that a company directly collects and stores. Whether it be prospect information stored in the company CRM, website audience data, 1st party cookie data, customer feedback, etc., this type of data encompasses the information that a company produces and has direct control over.

2nd Party Data

“2nd party data” refers to the first party data of another company, which is typically acquired through a business partnership or direct sale.

3rd Party Data

“3rd party data” refers to data that is compiled, and often aggregated, from third party companies that may have a direct relationship with a particular user base. This data can be aggregated from a user’s cookies, which can have practical implications on what their interests may be, as well as compiled and sometimes extensive demographic and firmographic data elements to allow targeted segmentation. Third party data can provide very useful insights and ability make direct connections via multiple media channels both offline, digital and social.

Above the Fold

“Above the fold” refers to the physical space on any webpage that appears in a browser when you first land on the page, without any scrolling. This is particularly important when purchasing ad space on the web.

Ad Exchange

What is an ad exchange? It’s a digital marketplace on which advertisers and publishers can purchase advertising space on digital platforms. For example, Google Ad Exchange is a platform on which companies can purchase advertising space from Google surrounding particular keywords.  Private ad exchanges provide access to aggregated inventory from a selected group of websites or publishers usually endemic to a particular content focus.

Ad Impressions

What are ad impressions? This is the number of views a particular digital advertisement gets.  DSPs and other ad serving platforms can usually segment ad impressions based on unique individuals vs total impressions and also web vs. mobile or in-app.

Available Inventory

“Available inventory” refers to the amount of ad space a digital publisher or ad exchange has available to sell to advertisers either direct or via programmatic channels.

Ad Server

What is an ad server? Divided into third party ad servers and publisher ad servers, ad servers provide the technology to embed, produce, and display advertisements on any given website. They also provide important analytical data about the ads including the number of impressions, number of clicks, and optimization data which impact digital advertising budgets.

Ad Size

“Ad sizes” refer to the physical dimensions of digital advertisements, usually measured in pixels. Ad sizes will vary based on whether the ad is a banner, native, retargeting, or other type of advertisement and the website it is displaying on.

Ad Fraud

Ad fraud, a type of scam in which digital advertisers are tricked into paying for fake traffic, clicks, or leads, can include click fraud (in which bots are clicking on ads), search ad fraud (in which keywords are misused to artificially elevate a website’s SERPs ranking, and ad stacking (in which multiple ads are stacked physically atop one another so that only the top ad is visible). With an average of 17% of programmatic ad impressions being from bots (source:, ad fraud can be mitigated by digital targeting (ie. Targeting ads toward viewers that you know to be real people that are in the segment you wish to target.)

Audience Buying

Audience buying refers to a type of digital ad targeting in which instead of buying “pre-packaged” audience segments from publishers, advertisers can create their own audience segments based on user behavioral data. Using this data, advertisers can target potential customers throughout all of their web interactions instead of on a specific webpage.


What is cost per click or CPC? It refers to a fee structure charged by digital ad publishers in which the purchaser pays for every click they receive from the ad.


What is CPM? CPM refers to a fee structure charged by digital ad publishers in which the purchaser pays a fee for every thousand impressions an ad receives.  When 3rd party audience targeting data is used in the ad buy, that data can either be charged on a premium CPM basis where the data supplier charges a cost-per-thousand impressions served over and above the publisher CPM or can be purchased on a cost per unique individual contained in the targetable universe.

Digital IDs

Digital IDs are cookie-based or tag IDs for mobile devices that are computer generated identities about an individual that are based on the totality of their online activities. Areas of identification include email, username, online searches, frequently visited websites, ecommerce purchase histories, and more.  Digital IDs can be linked to multiple first party cookie and device IDs throughout the digital ecosystem.


When the one-to-one relationship between offline identity, (offline persona) to the online identity (digital persona) is highly accurate, this association of identity to a user’s cookie or tag called deterministic matching.  Deterministic means there is an extremely high confidence that the identity link is accurate.   The most accurate linkage is either based on 1st or 3rd party cookies.   If the identity is not based on a 1st or 3rd party cookie, then the identity link can be accomplished via a process called ‘onboarding’ which can either be highly deterministic or far less accurate which is called ‘probabilistic’.

Daisy Chain

As it pertains to programmatic advertising, a daisy chain is a method publishers use to maximize their revenue and sales rates from digital advertisements. Specifically, publishers service the advertisers paying the highest price per impression, followed by the next highest, and so on.

Data Management Platform

What is a data management platform or DMP? It is a digital platform that enables advertisers to combine first, second, and third party data, analyze it, and store it for future use in targeting digital advertisements.

Demand Side Platform

What is a demand side platform or DSP? A DSP is a digital interface utilized by digital marketers to manage several ad exchange accounts in one location as well as purchase ad inventory through real time bidding.  DSPs benefit digital advertisers by allowing them to fully manage digital campaigns across web, social and in-app platforms as well as optimize campaigns by key performance indicators, including cost per view and cost per click.  Many DSPs offer specialized features and services on a value added basis.

HCP Data

HCP Data” refers to any data on healthcare professionals, including from physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, allied health professionals, hospital administrators, and more. This data can encompass demographic data, firmographic data, NPI number, year of graduation, clinical behavioral data, procedural data, diagnostic data, practice data, and more.  Ideally this HCP Data is linked in a highly deterministic way to the individual’s Digital IDs.


Onboarding is a process provided by big data companies that aggregate very large amounts of personally identifiable information and associate those offline identities to their own and other 3rd party cookies creating the offline/online identity linkage.  Onboarding however can be accomplished in many ways – some of which are more accurate than others – either deterministic or probabilistic.


In contrast to deterministic data targeting, probabilistic data deduces a user’s online identity via the onboarding process by using multiple 3rd party offline data elements.  There is a wide range of probabilistic accuracy depending on which data elements and in what combination are used.  At the lower accuracy end, is sometimes called look-alike modeling because multiple individuals share behavioral data elements.

Real Time Bidding (RTB)

A form of programmatic advertising, real time bidding refers to a type of ad purchasing in which you bid for ad space in real time. Auctions last as long as it takes the webpage to load. If you win the bid, your ad is immediately displayed by the publisher. Advertisers use probabilistic data to determine whether to bid on ad space (and how much to bid).

Header Bidding

Created with the purpose of giving publishers a higher ad space sell through rate and boosting revenue, header bidding is a method by which publishers permit several demand sources to bid on inventory simultaneously, in advance.

Supply Side Platform

Supply Side Platforms, or SSPs, are platforms by which digital advertisers can manage their ad inventory and display video, mobile, and other advertisements. It is the equivalent of a DSP, except on the publisher’s side of the transaction.