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Glossary of TV Advertising Terms

  • - Tara Franceschini
  • 3 min read

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran of the TV advertising industry or just getting started, with a constantly evolving ecosystem there are specific terms that you must know to ensure you’re advancing your TV game. We’ve put together a list of the top 21 must-know TV advertising terms from A (Addressable TV) to V (Video on Demand).

Addressable TV

Addressable TV advertising is the ability to target individually selected households with specific advertisements while viewers are watching standard content. This is delivered via set-top boxes from select cable and satellite companies.

Automatic Content Recognition (ACR)

Automatic content recognition (ACR) is an identification technology that recognizes content that is played on a media device or is present on a media file by audio, video, or a watermark. This can be used to identify both the programming and ad inventory that a viewer consumes.

Connected TV (CTV)

A connected TV is a standard TV set connected to the internet, enabling the user to view OTT content. TVs can become “connected devices” by installed hardware (smart TVs) or by an external device like a streaming stick. It is one of many device types that can be used to view over-the-top (OTT) content.

Data-Driven Linear

Data-driven linear is TV advertising that is purchased at the program or network level, but is informed by data beyond age and gender. This is made possible by bringing together viewership data with outside datasets like niche third-party data, or even an advertiser’s first-party data, to understand which programs over-index for a brand’s specific target audience, leading to more efficient media buys.

Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD)

Multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) are service providers who deliver video content to consumers on their television, either through satellite, cable, or linear broadcast.

Outcome-Based Guarantees

When buyers contract for media, a “guarantee” is made that a certain threshold of media viewership will occur. If the programming does not meet that threshold, the media seller provides a make-good in the form of additional media at no cost. Instead of a media viewership threshold, outcome-based guarantees are based on outside factors that show buyer impact like sales, tune-in, website visitation, and more.

Over-the-top (OTT)

Over-the-top (OTT) refers to film or video content delivered to an internet-enabled device over the internet, outside of the closed networks of telecom and cable providers. Multiple device types are used to view OTT content, including PCs, mobile devices, connected TVs, and more.

Set-Top Box (STB)

A set-top box is a hardware device that allows a digital signal to be received, decoded, and displayed on a television. The signal can be a television signal or Internet data and is received via cable or telephone connection.

TV Attribution

Similar to other forms of media, TV can be tied to consumer actions after being exposed. Attribution connects the video media event back to conversions, which may include online or offline purchases, website visitation, store visits, tune-in, and more. By using test/control groups, a marketer can understand the impact that the video media, no matter how it was purchased or viewed, had on the brand’s bottom line. Many marketers use this type of analysis to drive smarter buys or more impactful creative executions in the future.


The Upfronts are a period of the year during which the vast majority of TV inventory is purchased. It kicks off with the Upfront week, a series of events to showcase TV content available to buy in the coming broadcast year. These events are attended by TV networks, advertisers, and agencies. After Upfront week, the Upfront marketplace begins, lasting approximately two months. Upfront deals are negotiated, securing the content and price at which TV media buyers will purchase TV media.

A common misconception is that Upfronts are all for show, however, there is an element of inventory scarcity that makes them a true do-not-miss for TV buyers. If a buyer were to opt out of the Upfronts, the inventory that matches their target audience may sell out, leaving them at the mercy of the rest of the industry, with only higher-priced, scattered inventory available during that broadcast year.

Video on Demand (VoD)

Video on demand (VoD) is a feature that enables users to browse, select, and view broadcast video content whenever they want, regardless of the original air date.

Download the full list of terms and their definitions. Interested in learning how LiveRamp can help you seamlessly plan, activate, measure, and quantify your TV spend? Contact [email protected].

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