Glossary

Here are a few words that will crop up during your research that probably don’t mean anything to you unless you’ve worked in advertising or studied it.

The below should aid your understanding of what you're reading:

  • “ATL” / above the line - this means broadcast media such as TV, outdoor posters, radio etc. Generally used to communicate brand messages.
  • "Brand" - a word that is central to advertising, and yet quite hard to define! It's sometimes used as a descriptor for a company (e.g. Nike is a company, and a brand), but in its truest sense it's the sum of everything a consumer (i.e. the person using it) associates with a particular product or service. This could be a colour, a feeling, a rational point, or another attribute, and can change over time. The word "brand" is also used to describe particular types of advertising i.e. comms that aims to influences people's perception of that brand and how they feel about it: what is about, what meaning and emotion is it infused with.
  • "Brief" - a summary of what needs to be done. A marketing brief is what a client gives to the agency to tell them what needs to be achieved. A creative brief is what is written by an agency strategist to communicate to a creative team what the adverts need to do (and is the foundation of the creative work).
  • “BTL” / below the line – these are non-broadcast media such as emails, display, door drops. More targeted communications, often with a product focus.
  • “Broadcast” – media where you speak to a large number of people at the same time.
  • “Channel” – this means the space the ad is running in e.g. radio, email, display.
  • “Campaign” – a collection of projects which run at the same time to achieve a certain marketing objective.
  • "Client" - the marketer / brand who employs the agency.
  • “Creative agency" – these are agencies which come up with the ideas and produce the ads themselves.
  • “Display” – the banner ads you see on your browser. Can come in multiple formats, and types.
  • “Independent agency"– this means the agency is privately owned and run by the management team. These tend to be a bit smaller, and are fewer in number.
  • “Integrated” – this means that a message or campaign works across all channels (e.g. TV, digital).
  • "KPI" - key performance indicator. A measure of whether something (e.g. a campaign) is deemed to have been a success or not.
  • “Marketing” - this is a distinction that is often messed up. Marketing is a broader mix of comms, advertising is just one part of it. "Marketers" are the clients of the agency.
  • “Media agencies" – these plan (i.e. recommend the best channels to use) and book the media space for the ads to run in. The creative and media agencies should work together on projects to come up with the best solution for a client.
  • “Network agency" – this means that the agency is part of a wider group (generally one of the big holding companies such as WPP or Omnicom).
  • OOH / “out of home” - billboard posters.
  • "Proposition" - what the client's brand / product / service is (what they are offering to their customers).

If you are looking for any further definitions, there's a solid list of terms here.