The Complete Glossary of Digital Marketing Terms

This glossary contains over 40 digital marketing terms for the advanced practitioner. Use this quick reference guide to help unpack jargon and to keep pace with the ever-evolving digital marketing industry.

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    A key performance indicator that measures a brand’s ability to accurately identify, reach and engage individuals across channels, using deterministic, known customer information such as hashed emails and anonymized user login information.

    Addressability Rate

    The metric calculating a customer data onboarder’s ability to accurately recognize, reach and engage individuals across channels.

    Application Programming Interface (API)

    A set of subroutine definitions, communication protocols and tools that provide the necessary building blocks for developing software.


    The process of identifying a set of user actions across screens and touchpoints that influence a desired outcome, and then assigning a value to each of these events.


    A group of people within a consumer population that share one or more characteristics. Marketers can target specific audiences (a.k.a. “segments”) as recipients for a particular advertisement or message.

    Authenticated Identifiers

    Customer registration or login information (e.g., email addresses, loyalty card numbers and credit card numbers) that enables a brand to recognize a user across its touchpoints as well as social media platforms, online email accounts and other digital destinations.



    Batch Onboarding

    A legacy process of uploading offline customer data to match with digital identities for media activation. Unlike next-generation, continuous data onboarding solutions that refresh customer data in real time as new interactions occur, batch onboarders upload data files in individual batches, match them against digital identifiers and push out customer profiles to media vendors — a process that takes between five and seven days.

    Brand Loyalty

    The positive feelings that impel a consumer to consistently purchase the same product(s) or service(s) from the same brand, regardless of a competitor’s offerings or other marketplace variables.




    A small text file stored in a web user’s browser directory or data folder to validate her identity, retain login credentials and provide a customized experience as she browses from page to page, among other functions. A cookie typically expires after 30 to 180 days, or when the user deletes it.

    Cross-Device Tracking

    The process of collecting and combining data to link multiple devices to a single user, enabling advertisers to follow the customer’s digital activities, understand his behaviors, interests and intents, and serve ads and messages where and when they will be most effective.

    Customer Data Platform (CDP)

    A technology platform that ingests all of a brand’s first-party data from owned channels to resolve customer identities via personally identifiable information and create customer profiles for activation within a brand’s internal systems.

    Customer Identity

    The technological process of integrating unique customer identifiers across channels and devices to create a persistent and addressable individual profile, producing 360-degree customer views that power more targeted and hyper-personalized brand messaging.


    Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

    A software solution that houses all of a brand’s important customer data (e.g., name, contact information and purchase history) in one place, providing the means to more effectively manage relationships with existing customers and help identify new leads and prospects.



    Data-Driven Marketing

    A strategy that leverages insights collected via consumer interactions and engagements to optimize and target customer messaging, media buying and other brand marketing activities.

    Data Management Platform (DMP)

    A technology platform that gathers, sorts and stores digital audience data (primarily cookie-based information) to build audience segments for media targeting.

    Data Onboarding

    The technical process of uploading offline customer data to the online environment to match with digital identifiers.

    Demand-Side Platform (DSP)

    An automated system that enables brands, agencies and application developers that purchase digital advertising inventory to manage multiple ad exchange and data exchange accounts through a single unified interface.

    Deterministic Matching

    A matching methodology that uses authenticated customer information such as anonymized log-in data or hashed email addresses to resolve customer identities.

    Device ID

    A device-specific identifier that can be linked back to a customer profile.



    First-Party Data

    Personal information that consumers share directly and voluntarily with a brand, revealing audience behaviors, traits, preferences, interests and other insights.




    A method of encryption for sharing anonymized data between systems while protecting the privacy of personally identifiable information.



    Identity Graph

    A database that houses all known personal identifiers and connects them to the customer’s profile and related data points, including behavioral information (e.g., browsing activity or purchase history).

    Identity Resolution

    The process of collecting and matching identifiers across devices and touchpoints to build a cohesive, omnichannel view of an individual consumer, enabling brands to deliver personalized, contextually relevant messaging throughout the customer journey.



    Match Rate

    The metric used in customer data onboarding to reflect the quality of a brand’s first-party data as compared to an onboarder’s truth set.



    Offline Data

    Information that originates from a source not connected to the internet, including an individual customer’s purchase history, product preferences, demographic info, loyalty status, lifetime value, birthday and anniversaries, as well as records of call center inquiries and complaints.


    Online Data

    Information that originates from an internet-connected technology or device.

    Open Platform

    An open data platform in marketing is compatible with all technologies, toolsets, vendors and publishers a brand uses to engage its customers.



    People-Based Marketing

    An identity-driven marketing discipline enabling brands to recognize and engage customers on a one-to-one basis across devices and channels.

    Persistent Profile

    A permanent, stable customer profile that is always on and ready for activation, growing richer and deeper with each interaction as it accumulates additional data.


    The process of leveraging customer data insights to tailor a service, product or experience to accommodate the preferences and expectations of a specific individual.



    Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

    Any data that could potentially be used to identify a particular individual, including full name, Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank account number, passport number, postal address and email address.

    Probabilistic Matching

    A method of creating likely statistical connections between devices using anonymized data signals like IP address, device type, browser type, location and operating system.




    The practice of re-engaging consumers that have previously interacted with a brand.



    Second-Party Data

    First-party data that a company may buy, sell or share with trusted partners to create more complete customer profiles and improve ad targeting.

    Software Development Kit (SDK)

    A set of software development tools enabling the creation of applications for a particular software package, software framework, hardware platform, computer system, operating system or other development platform.


    The process of removing individual customers or audience segments from an advertising campaign because: they don’t meet the brand’s stated criteria; they convert in-flight; or they opt out for personal reasons.




    The medium used to facilitate the collection and sharing of data between a brand’s website and the partner technologies that rely upon this data (e.g., analytics platforms and marketing vendors). A tag may be a transparent pixel or image tag loaded onto a web page, or it may take the form of JavaScript code that allows for more advanced data collection.

    Third-Party Data

    Customer information that is collected from various platforms and websites by a commercial data aggregator, then sold to marketers to help target their ad buys. Examples of third-party data include a customer’s first and last name, email address, postal address, phone number, purchase history and website browsing activities. Third-party data is not exclusive to any one purchaser, and is available for sale to many competitors.



    Unified View of the Customer

    An aggregated, holistic representation of the online and offline data collected on individual customers. Also known as a single customer view, it enables brands to analyze earlier behavior across devices and channels to improve targeting and personalize future interactions.



    Walled Garden

    The nickname for a closed marketing ecosystem, such as Facebook or Google, that does not share back any user-level insights to its advertisers.

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