The Mindboggling World of PPC Acronyms… or the MWOPA

Maybe it’s born out of a need to seem incredibly knowledgeable to our clients, maybe it’s a need to save precious typing seconds or maybe it’s just because we like to sound smart. Whatever it is, we digital marketers seem to love acronyms more than anyone else and have one for every occasion.

The problem with them is that for those not in “the know” they can be highly confusing, and what’s more, it can feel quite daunting to have to ask “what does that stand for???”. No one wants to feel like they’re asking a basic question, but equally no one wants to have a discussion about marketing where they’re not even sure what they’re talking about!

So, I thought it would be a good idea to lay down a kind of “cheat sheet” for PPC acronyms that can be anonymously studied and used as a reference, rather than having that awkward meeting mind blank.

The below covers the main ones you may hear with regards to Paid Search and Display:


  • PPC – Pay Per Click
  • CTR – Click Through Rate (the % of people who saw your ad that clicked on it)
  • CPA – Cost Per Acquisition (how much each conversion cost you based on ad spend)
  • CPC – Cost Per Click (how much each click on your ads has cost you)
  • CR – Conversion Rate (the % of people who hit a conversion point after clicking on your ads)
  • PLA – Product Listing Ad (Google’s shopping ads within the search results)
  • ROAS – Return On Ad Spend (how much/what % you are making back against your spend on ad clicks)
  • IS – Impression Share (the % of ad impressions you got out of all the impressions that were available to you)
  • VTC – View Through Conversion (how many conversions you had where the users saw your ad and didn’t click on it)
  • SPART – Search Partners (this means Google and its search engine partners, so your ads are appearing on Google and associated search engines)
  • RLSA – Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (This is a remarketing list of users added to search keywords to enhance bidding across the search network)
  • DS – DoubleClick Search (DoubleClick’s product for running search campaigns. You can run AdWords and Bing search through DoubleClick with enhanced features)
  • MCC – My Client Centre (a grouping of multiple AdWords accounts)


  • GDN – Google Display Network
  • CPM – Cost Per Mille (this is how much you pay for every 1,000 ad impressions as opposed to paying for clicks)
  • DBM – DoubleClick Bid Manager (Google’s area for display trading desks, agencies and advertisers etc.)
  • DSP – Demand Side Platform (a DSP allows you to manage multiple ad exchanges and ad data in one place. DBM is Google’s DSP)
  • DCM – DoubleClick Campaign Manager (this is where you can plan all your display campaigns and pull reports from your activity)
  • DMP – Data Management Platform (a central platform for managing and merging data sets, such as Cookie IDs)
  • RTB – Real Time Bidding (the buying and selling of ad space through online auctions that take milliseconds and are therefore in real time)
  • SSP – Supply Side Platform (a platform that helps publishers automatically sell their ad space on their websites)

The above covers the main acronym’s you will hear around paid search and display but if you’re in any digital marketing you may also hear some of the following completely unnecessary acronym’s:

  • CTA – Call to Action
  • CRO – Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • DM – Direct Mail
  • GA – Google Analytics
  • GTM – Google Tag Manager
  • KPI – Key Performance Indicator
  • RT – Retweet
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
  • B2B – Business to Business
  • B2C – Business to Consumer
  • CAC – Customer Acquisition Cost
  • LTV – Life Time Value
  • MoM – Month on Month
  • YoY – Year on Year
  • ROI – Return on Investment
  • YTD – Year to Date
  • SEM – Search Engine Marketing
  • OOO – Out of Office
  • COP – Close of Play
  • COB – Close of Business

So with all of this you’ll now know exactly what’s happening when your marketing team tell you that the LTV of PPC customers for our B2B products is up YoY but the ROAS, CV and CTR are all down MoM.