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Lost in translation: The problem with ad tech jargon

Wary of digital speak? Understanding obscured by the tech talk? It’s time to traverse the ad tech jargon barricade.

Have you ever been in a conversation about digital advertising and not been able to comprehend what the other person said? I know the feeling.

The world of digital media has birthed a new breed of talk — a complex, acronym-laden lingo that mixes terminology borrowed from marketing, advertising, media, programming, computer science and mathematics. The fusion of terms from such diverse origins has left many marketers drowning in a language that is as difficult to understand as the technology behind it is to build!

Languages evolve as we progress, and in an industry as fast-paced as the digital advertising ecosystem, one can only say that evolution takes place very rapidly.

Bust the jargon, before the jargon busts you
Like every industry, digital advertising comes with its own set of acronyms and vocabulary. If you’ve been in the industry for long enough, this jargon goes into your ears and come out of your mouth without a second thought, but marketers who are not steeped in digital might not have the same level of familiarity. For example, terms such as those used for pricing models can baffle those who are new to or unfamiliar with the industry, and one day spent at any digital marketing conference is enough to leave your head spinning.

Advertising technology (‘ad tech’ for those in the know), for all its might, can be confusing enough in its complexity before you add the complication of the dictionary that comes with it. While this intersection of science and advertising is truly impressive when put to good use, some would-be adopters end up being intimidated by shop talk rather than grasping the full potential of the technology.

Inspire, not intimidate
Education, simplification and a bit of humility will be required to change the game. What is the point of a presenting a dazzling pitch about programmatic advertising if all it does is make the recipient wallow in confusion? You may have a marketer who has the chance to maximise the effect of his ad spend and to generate incremental revenues with the help of real-time advertising solutions, but alas, the wonders of programmatic are lost on him due to the onslaught of confusing acronyms! This eventually leads to a very unfortunate situation in which (potential) clients retreat into their shells of comfort, sometimes bypassing innovation that could deliver serious results in favour of keeping things easy and familiar.

The key is to ensure that the language used is as simplified as possible. Solution providers across the digital domain need to break this jargon barrier down to broaden understanding of the technology. This will make it easier for companies to expand to their fullest potential in digital advertising and commerce, and to be more confident what they’re looking for and investing in—whether impanelling a digital agency or working directly with an ad tech solution provider.

Bridging the gap

The Programmatic Jargon Buster is our contribution to fighting this battle against jargon. In this guide, marketers can find an A to Z of digital definitions ranging from the more common terms to some more obscure selections. Our goal was to help marketers who might be new to or unfamiliar with our industry to shine a light into the digital darkness, so that they can realise the true power of the digital machinery behind the jargon.

Rohit Kumar

Rohit Kumar is the Managing Director Asia Pacific of Sociomantic Labs from dunnhumby. He joined Google in 2007, and later, was a founding member of Google’s EMEA Ad Exchange team, leading the commercialisation of RTB technology to the marketplace. He also ran his own ad technology advisory business. He holds a Master’s degree in management from the London School of Economics.1