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Advertising Glossary

Instant access to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary & Thesaurus: simply enter a word in the appropriate search box and click the "Search" button.



Please search through our glossary: click on the letters below to reference advertising terms:


ACCOUNT - A term commonly used within the advertising business to refer to the corporate entity employing an advertising agency. MJM's account roster includes a wide variety of businesses and service organizations.

ACCOUNT COORDINATOR - The advertising agency employee responsible for much of the day-to-day business of servicing an account. Motto Advertising takes pride in the expertise and dedication of our account coordinators, who assist account executives and oversee traffic, production and media scheduling within the agency.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE (A/E) - The agency employee responsible for a client's marketing and administrative efforts. At Motto Advertising, account executives deal directly with the client, vendors and the media. Our AE's are all highly experienced and have more autonomy than at most other agencies.

ACTION CARDS - A mail-order device in which a set of postcards with order forms and return addresses for a variety of products and companies is wrapped in plastic and sent to demographically and/or psychographically selected potential customers.

ADVERTISEMENT - A paid public announcement appearing in the media.

ADVERTISING - Making known; calling public attention to a product, service, or company by means of paid announcements so as to affect perception or arouse consumer desire to make a purchase or take a particular action.

ADVERTORIAL - An advertisement that resembles a newspaper editorial or a television program but promotes a single advertiser's product, service, or point of view.

AGATE LINE - A measure of advertising space, 1/14 of an inch in depth by one column in width. Thus there are 14 agate lines to the column inch. At Michael J. Motto Advertising, we precisely measure all of the classified ads we run and pay only for the exact size ad that runs. In this way we take thousands of dollars in linage corrections each month on behalf of our clients.

AGE GROUP - A target audience defined by age.

Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) - ABC is a non-profit organization supported jointly by publishers, advertising agencies and advertisers with the purpose of verifying the circulation statements of member publishers.

ABC Report (Audit Bureau of Circulations Report) - For The Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I, a full audit report is done annually for the period ending March 31, while compilations of publisher's statements from March and September are published twice a year. This differs from the Fas-Fax Report, which includes all U.S. daily papers, and covers either audits or publishers' statement data.

Advertising Checking Bureau (ACB) - A profit-making organization specializing in the verification of co-op advertising and sending tearsheets to general or national advertisers.

Ad Count - Total number of individual advertisements.

Agate - A typesetter's measure; 1 inch = 14 agate lines.

Alignment - The arrangement of text in a column (i.e. flush right, flush left, centered or justified).

Art - Any visual image, such as a photo or drawing, intended for reproduction. Also referred to as a Rendering.

ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange. An ASCII file contains only plain text and basic text-formatting characters such as spaces and carriage returns; it does not contain graphics or special character formatting. The ASCII character set of a microcomputer usually includes 256 characters or control codes. The most consistent ASCII characters are those that can be seen on the keyboard; they fall in the range from ASCII 32 to 127 and are called "plain ASCII." A "plain ASCII" can be read by just about any program.

Artwork - Materials, other than type, prepared for reproduction. Photographs, illustrations and diagrams are examples.

Audience - The number of people or households (often adults 18+) who are exposed to a medium or advertising message.

Average Frequency - The average number of times a household or person is exposed to an advertising message within a specific period of time.

Average Quarter Hour - A broadcast term that reflects the number of people (of any age) listening or viewing during a typical 15-minute period.

AGENCY - A company in the business of creating advertisements, packaging and names for products and services, as well as providing marketing and merchandizing advice and general business and promotional counsel to its clients.

AUDIOVISUAL (A/V) - Pertaining to the use of recordings, videos, slides, and other media for presentation.

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BILLBOARD - A large outdoor printed sign. Costs for a specific billboard are determined by the amount of traffic that passes its location, plus the board's size and visibility.

BROCHURE - A folded leaflet with an advertising or promotional message.

BUMPER STICKER - An advertising strip attached to an automobile bumper.

BUSINESS REPLY CARD (B.R.C.) - A preprinted postcard enabling direct mail recipients to respond easily. Direct mail offers that include BRCs have a much higher response rate.

BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS (B-TO-B) - Communications or commerce between companies (as distinguished from dealings between a company and a consumer); frequently conducted through trade journals.

BUZZWORD - A word or phrase that takes on added significance through repetition or special usage. "Customer Retention Program" has become a buzzword among retailers.

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CAMPAIGN - The total planned, coordinated sales effort on behalf of a specific client or product, often multimedia in nature and run over a period of time. Motto Advertising has created numerous award-winning campaigns for its clients.

CATALOG - An illustrated booklet listing products or services available.

CLASSIFIED AD - A brief listing appearing in a periodical of items for sale and/or services offered, usually arranged by category. Motto Advertising has extensive experience in writing and inserting effective classified ads in newspapers, magazines, on television and the internet.

COLOR SEPARATION - A traditional photographic process that uses four film negatives to ultimately create a full-color printed product. Recent computer innovations have obviated the need for separated film negatives in certain applications.

COMMERCIAL - An audio or video advertising announcement, usually presented on television, radio or in a movie theater. Visit our creative portfolio to see some of the celebrated commercials MJM has produced.

CONCEPT - The general idea behind a slogan, pitch, or campaign.

CONSUMER - A private individual at whom advertisements are aimed; a buyer.

CONSUMER MARKET - A defined group of consumers.

CO-OP - The practice of a national brand subsidizing local advertising costs incurred by a company that sells its product. Typically, the national brand has stringent rules about the advertisement in which the product appears. SUN, Pepsi, and Cadillac are just a few of the thousands of brands that make co-op dollars available.

COPY - The written part of an advertisement. Effective copy is critically important, even in visually-oriented advertising messages.

COPYWRITER - A person responsible for writing advertising copy and generating creative concepts, often in collaboration with an art director or creative director.

CORPORATE IDENTITY - A company's name, logo, typeface, colors, slogan, etc., are elements that help comprise its corporate identity. Motto Advertising has produced effective corporate identity packages for many new and long-established organizations.

COST PER THOUSAND (C.P.M.) - The cost of advertising per thousand potential customers reached by a given publication, broadcast, or outdoor advertisement. This figure is often used in media planning.

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DIRECT MAIL - A marketing effort conducted exclusively by mail.

DIRECT MARKETING - Marketing via leaflets, brochures, letters, catalogs, or print ads mailed or distributed directly to current and potential consumers. The direct marketing industry has grown enormously as a result of increasingly specialized mailing lists.

DIRECT RESPONSE - An advertising technique that urges the audience to respond in a particular manner, usually to buy a product, and provides that audience with the means to do so. A business reply card (BRC) is a direct response tool.

DISPLAY AD - An illustrated advertisement in a newspaper or magazine.

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ESTIMATE - The proposed or expected budget for an advertising effort. Prior to the inception of any promotional project or ad campaign, Motto Advertising provides its clients with a detailed cost estimate.

EXPOSURE - The number of potential consumers reached through specific medium.

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FACT SHEET - A standard page in a company's press kit, the fact sheet gives a brief description of the company's business and area of expertise, the company's address(es), phone numbers, principals, date of establishment, etc. A well-prepared fact sheet saves the journalist hours of time - and increases the company's chance of press coverage.

FILLER - A short, interesting, sometimes humorous news item used to fill leftover space on the page. The most widely read "articles" in any newspaper, fillers constitute an excellent (and often overlooked) vehicle for obtaining press coverage for an organization.

FLYER - A handbill or loose sheet with a printed advertisement.

FOCUS GROUP - A group of potential consumers used in a market research effort, which is usually designed to determine the likely effectiveness of a product or advertising strategy.

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GIVEAWAY - A novelty or gift used in a promotion. Banks frequently offer giveaways, or prizes, to customers opening accounts.

GRAPHIC DESIGN - Any form of visual artistic representation.

GUTTER - The white space formed by the inner margins on two facing pages.

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HALFTONE - An image formed by printing close-set dots of varying sizes on paper or other "hard" media.

HOOK - A clever phrase or melody used to capture the consumer's attention and help make the advertising message more memorable.

HYPE - Extreme promotion of a person, idea, or product.

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IMPACT - The degree of success of a campaign; the reaching of consumers.

INDEPENDENT - An agency which functions alone, not controlled or influenced by a larger corporation. Michael J. Motto Advertising is an independent agency, free to act solely in our clients' best interests.

INSERT - A printed sheet or sheets inserted into a publication or enclosed with a mailing.

JINGLE - A catchy musical refrain delivering an advertising message, frequently used on radio or television. Check out our creative portfolio to hear some of the memorable jingles we've produced for agency clients.

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LAUNCH - The introduction of a new product or service.

LAYOUT - A design for graphic advertising production, roughly depicting the look of the finished advertisement.

LINAGE - Total lines of advertising; for example, a three column by ninety line advertisement has a total linage of 270 lines. A client's linage in a specific publication may run to tens of thousands per month. By anticipating its clients' linage requirements, Michael J. Motto Advertising can negotiate more advantageous rates with the media.

LIVE TAG - The voice-over at the end of a prerecorded commercial that provides current or local information, dealer addresses, etc.

LOGO - A recognizable graphic design element, representing an organization or product.

LOGOTYPE - The stylized lettering often employed in a logo.

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MAILER - A mailed advertisement.

MAILING LIST - A list of prospective customers organized by defined factors such as location, income, or other consumer profile aspect.

MAIL ORDER - Retail sales conducted by mail.

MARKET - The prospective customers for a given product or service.

MARKETING - The techniques used to attract and persuade consumers. As a direct response agency, MJM keeps marketing goals uppermost in mind in the design of every advertisement.

MARKET PROFILE - The characteristics of a group or area targeted for a campaign.

MARKET RESEARCH - A study of consumer groups and business competition used to define a projected market.

MARQUEE - An onsite billboard, often advertising a theater performance.

MEDIA - Forms of mass communication. Newspapers, magazines, direct mail, billboards, bus signs, radio, television and internet are some important media that carry advertising.

MEDIA PACK - A folder of information issued by a particular publication concerning the publication and the process of placing ads in the publication. Regular elements of the standard media pack include contract rates, column sizes, deadlines, editorial calendars, special features, media circulation, geographic coverage, audience demographics, etc.

MEDIA PLANNER - An employee of an advertiser or agency who coordinates media aspects of a campaign and selects the most effective media to use. Important factors in media planning include: the campaign; the budget, size and character of the market profile; and the positioning opportunities in the media.

MEDIA RESEARCH - A study of radio, television and print media for the purpose of reaching the optimal consumer audience.

MENTION - A brief item in the press or broadcast media referring to a person, product, or service.

MESSAGE - The underlying theme or idea in advertisement.

MIDDLE AMERICA - The moderate, middle-class segment of the U.S. population that comprises the largest consumer group.

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NATIONAL - A commercial running throughout the country.

NOVELTIES - Free items, such as calendars, letter openers, mugs or buttons, bearing an advertiser's logo -- also referred to as advertising specialties. The purpose of such novelties is to keep the advertiser's name in front of its audience over time.

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PAGE UNIT - Most magazine advertisements are sold in page units rather than in columns and inches. There are rates for a full page, half page, one-third page, one-sixth page, etc.

PARTICIPATION - A television program sponsorship pattern in which a number of advertisers are rotated through segments of the program. A "participating" sponsor has no program content or station lineup control. Usually, their sponsorship commitment is limited to a relatively short period.

PASTE-UP - The formation of a graphic design or layout by pasting elements on a stiff board. Increasingly, artists bypass physical paste-up and create layouts on the computer.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY - An event, sometimes staged, having visual appeal or interest for photographers and used as an opportunity to generate publicity. Political strategists spend long hours devising and arranging "photo ops" for their candidates.

PITCH - The presentation of an advertising message to a prospective or existing client.

PLUG - A favorable mention or a picture of a product in the non-advertising portion of a media presentation. Examples of plugs are a Cheerio's box visible on a breakfast table in a film, a character in a TV movie drinking a Coca-Cola, or James Bond driving a BMW.

POINT-OF-PURCHASE ADVERTISING (P-O-P) - Signs, displays, and other techniques of attracting attention and promoting products at their location of sale. Motto Advertising specializes in creating innovative P-O-P advertising.

PORTFOLIO - A large, bound volume containing samples of past work and used by an agency or an artist to promote business.

POSTER - A graphic advertisement attached to a flat surface or standing up with a clip backing.

PREMIUM - Something offered for "free" or at a reduced price as an inducement to buy something else. Examples: "Buy a timeshare condo and receive a free television". "Open a checking account and get a new toaster."

PRESENTATION - A pitch or a description of a proposed advertising campaign.

PRESS AGENT - A publicist - also known as a press officer.

PRESS KIT - A collection of editorial and promotional materials distributed to the media about a person, product, or company. Journalists use these materials to learn about the subject. Michael J. Motto Public Relations has found that a concise, well-written press kit is an invaluable aid in generating print media publicity. Increasingly, audio and videotaped press kits are used to solicit radio and TV journalists' attention.

PRINCIPAL - A performer in a commercial who can be recognized or identified, including but not limited to those performing speaking parts.

PRINT ADVERTISING - Advertising in newspapers, magazines, catalogs, or mailers. Usually, print ads use some combination of photographs, illustrations, and copy.

PROMOTION - A method of increasing sales of merchandise through advertising; any activity designed to enhance sales.

PUBLICITY - The dissemination of promotional material to draw interest or generate sales.

PUBLIC RELATIONS (P.R.) - The business of generating goodwill toward an individual, cause, company, or product.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT (P.S.A.) - Announcement on television or radio serving the public interest and run by the media at no charge. For example, a utility company might do a series of PSA's on the subject of saving energy in the home. Each one would feature the company's name.

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RATE - A cost-per-space-unit of print advertising or cost-per-time-unit in radio and TV advertising. Newspapers usually publish rates per column inch or line. The electronic media sell 15-, 30-, or 60-second time units.

RATEHOLDER - A small classified ad run in every issue of a print publication for the duration of an advertising contract. The total linage entitles the advertiser to the lowest possible rate on all classified ads, both display and in-column.

RATING - A measure of audience for a television or radio program, used to establish advertising rates.

REFUSAL - The right of the first actor or model cast in an advertisement to refuse or accept the assignment.

RELEASE - The signed permission given by a person to use his or her photo, voice, name, or testimonial statement commercially.

REMNANT SPACE - Print advertising space that is left over and sold at a discount at the last minute.

ROLLOUT (informal) - Geographic expansion of a campaign from a single test market outward, as to a regional or national market.

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SANDWICH BOARD - Two hinged boards, adorned with advertising messages, that are placed at an advantageous location or hung over someone's shoulders.

SCATTER PACKAGE - An arrangement to air television commercials at various times or intervals.

SESSION - Recording session for a radio or TV commercial; also, a photo session.

SHOOT - The taping or filming of a commercial, in a studio or on location.

SIZZLE - Dazzle or excitement, as opposed to substance. In its bid for consumers, some advertising plays up the "sizzle" rather than the "steak."

SKYWRITING - Writing across the sky by means of chemically produced smoke emitted from an airplane.

SLANT - The emphasis of a campaign or advertisement; hook; peg.

SLICE-OF-LIFE - Denoting any presentation that depicts naturalistic, everyday activities.

SLOGAN - Short, memorable advertising phrase: Examples include "Coke Is It," "Just Do It," and "Don't Leave Home Without It." When a product or company uses a slogan consistently, the slogan can become an important element of identification in the public's perception of the product.

SOFT SELL - Subtle or unpressured advertising technique.

SPACE - A page or section of a page bought for advertising purposes in a newspaper, magazine, or catalog.

SPEC - Short for "speculation." Work done "on spec" is done for no guaranteed remuneration, in hope of winning the job, campaign or account in question. Pitches to prospective clients used to be done almost exclusively on spec.

SPOKESPERSON - A well-known person serving as a regular advocate of specific product or cause. Skiing star Picabo Street is firmly associated with Chapstick; Candice Bergen, with Sprint.

SPOT ADVERTISING - Any advertising presented in selected locales rather than on a national level.

SPREAD - Advertisement or other print presentation that takes two facing pages in a magazine or newspaper. A full-page "spread" fills both pages and may take up the gutter in between as well.

STANDARD ADVERTISING UNIT (S.A.U.) - System of standard dimensions for print display advertising based on six columns, each 2 1/16 inches wide, with a 1/8 inch "gutter" between columns. Because nearly all broadsheet newspapers are now in SAU in their display pages, a single ad may be used in many places without resizing.

STORYBOARD - A series of panels roughly depicting scenes, copy, and shots proposed for a television commercial. The storyboard gives the client a good idea of the agency's concept for a commercial, before extensive production charges are incurred.

SUBLIMINAL ADVERTISING - Concealed appeal to consumers' unconscious awareness to buy product.

SUBWAY CARD - An advertising poster attached to the interior of a subway car.

SWEEPSTAKES - A lottery in which winners are randomly selected, often used to induce purchase of a product as a condition of entering the contest.

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TARGET AUDIENCE - The consumer group most likely to buy a specific product and identified by region, age, demographics, or economic status. The target audience might be as wide as "adults aged 35-54," or as narrow as "female high school prom-goers in Wabash, Indiana." Effective ads are created and placed in media with the target audience clearly in mind.

TELEMARKETING - Selling, or advertising, or market research done by telephone.

TESTIMONIAL - A statement, often given by a celebrity, affirming the value of a product, event or service. The authority, glamour, character or special knowledge of a celebrity can reflect on the advertised product. Michael Jordan, perceived as an expert on sports footwear, speaks for Nike. Customer testimonials are also commonly used.

TEST MARKET - A consumer group interviewed to determine target audience.

TIME SLOT - A specific time bought for airing a commercial on radio or television.

TRADE NAME - The name used by a company to describe and distinguish its brand of a generic product. Kleenex is a trade name for a brand of tissue; Xerox, a single brand of copier.

TRADE SHOW - A convention at which advertising agencies or related companies show and compare products and ideas. Companies frequently underwrite elaborate displays, receptions, presentations and giveaways for trade shows in their industry.

WANT AD - Classified recruitment ad; an advertisement for personnel; also known as "help wanted" ads. The Motto agency utilizes an eight-point check list of criteria that maximize response to help-wanted ads.

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