ppc image with graph

Glossary of Common PPC Terms

Paid search uses a lot of terms that just don’t make sense to normal people. It’s like listening to legal speak or some technical jargon. It’s likely to have your head spinning, but not if you have a glossary to help you navigate these terms.
Glossary of Terms

Words About Structure

Understanding terminology about structure is important. The makeup of your account and how it’s structured are vital to its success, so you should be able to discuss it with colleagues, managers, and your team in a productive, intelligent manner. Here are a few terms you’ll come across in platforms from Google Ads to Facebook, and Pinterest.


A campaign is the highest level of structure in the account. Think about the campaign as a way to group items under 1 theme. In old school marketing, a campaign is a set of ads that are created to perform a specific goal. For instance, a the goal of a campaign is to achieve newsletter sign ups. Paid search campaigns mimic this same sort of goal structure. Beyond this, a campaign contains ad groups which allow further grouping and categorization.
Account structure

Ad Group

Facebook Ad

 An ad group is the next building block in the account structure. Ad groups allow you to further group your ads, targeting, and/or keywords (depending on the platform) thematically. An ad group contains ads and targeting like keywords and interests.


Ads are the forward-facing, visible side of your advertising. Ads are housed within your ad groups and are what you use to communicate with users of whatever platform they appear on. Ads can be text, video, or image though there are formats that are variants of all of the above.
Google Ads Search Ad

Terms about interaction

Terms About Interaction

Now that you know about the pieces of account structure, it’s helpful to know how interaction is measured. Interactions can take on many forms depending on the platform.  We often get caught up in metrics without understanding if they really mean anything.

Impressions – Don’t We All Want to Make an Impression?

For someone who’s never heard the word used this way, it can be confusing to think about. We all want to make a good “impression,” but “impressions” aren’t quite the same thing. When we talk about impressions, we mean the number of times your ad has been shown when someone has submitted a search to a search engine or visited a page where your ad appeared. It doesn’t automatically mean that someone saw it though. Rather, it means it showed up on a page that someone was on, also known as an ad being “served.”
A mouse click


A click is exactly what it sounds like (finally!!). When you receive a click, someone has clicked on your ad.
Location targeting is one type of ad targeting

Talking About Targeting

Targeting is critical to your campaigns. If you don’t target the right people, you won’t get very far.  It may sound like a top-secret way to do things, but you’ll find it’s pretty simple. Targeting is just the demographics, words, geographies, etc., you use to tell the ad platform who you’d like to see the ad.
Location targeting on the map

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

Location Targeting

Location is important. It wouldn’t make sense for your ads to show all over the United States if you only want to show them in Texas. It’s important to target only the locations you’d like your ads to be seen in. An area larger than this will cause you to waste money and advertise to people whom you don’t want to reach. Narrow targeting will give you the best bang for your buck.

Audience Targeting

Now this is where you can get down to the nitty gritty. Audience targeting is about targeting interests, behaviors, and qualities about them, like being parents, what they’re researching, and what they’re buying. The exact options will vary based on the platform, but the basic idea is the same across the board – reaching people who might be interested in what you have to offer.

Demographic Targeting

Are you customers between the ages of 30 and 50? Then you’ll appreciate demographic targeting. It allows you to target your reach based on age, gender, parental status, and income. It allows you to fine-tune who sees your ads and ensures you aren’t wasting your time showing ads to people who won’t be interested.​

Cost, Status, and More

We’ve covered the basic structure and targeting, but there are still more terms for other things we haven’t covered yet, like cost and status. As you page through an account or report, you’ll find these helpful to know as well.

Cost Per Click

Cost per click is simply the cost you’ll be paying for each click. Most ads are billed on a cost per click basis, though sometimes cost per impression is used.

Ad Status

The ad status lets you know whether or not the ad is eligible to run. Ads can be approved, disapproved, under review, etc.

Destination URL

When you click on an ad, it often goes to a website. The destination URL is the URL someone arrives at when they click your ad.
While this list is far from comprehensive, it’s a great start to understanding paid search terms. If you’re interested in advertising on a search engine or social media platform, contact us today!

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