The ultimate glossary of mobile marketing


The recent and consistently innovative field of mobile marketing comes with its own colorful lexicon. Confused by the massive amounts of industry jargon and key acronyms that come with mobile marketing? Let’s face it, we all can use a concise glossary from time to time; whether you are new to the space and need to learn basic terminology, or are a veteran having come across an unfamiliar term. Here we take you through the major terms and acronyms in the mobile marketing ecosystem. Is there a term not mentioned that you would like us to include? Tweet @bidmotion and let us know!



API – Application Programming Interface

Code allowing two software platforms to communicate with one another, used as a set of protocols and definitions to integrate multiple programs harmoniously



Mobile operating system developed by Google; currently the most popular system on a global basis


ARPU – Average revenue per user

A metric used to measure revenue earned, defined as total revenue divided by the number of users/subscribers


ARPPU – Average revenue per purchasing user

Unlike ARPU, ARPPU measures spending behaviors of just purchasing users, lending marketers insight and understanding into monetization effectiveness. Defined as total revenue divided by the number of purchasing users/subscribers


ASO – App Store Optimization

ASO refers to the practice of optimizing an app to be better readable and referenced within the app store; the concept of SEO for websites, applied to mobile applications


ATD – Agency Trading Desk

An independent working unit serving as a media buyer and re-seller and working in collaboration with DSPs



Key for any mobile marketing strategy, attribution refers to the required technology measuring key metrics that  both assess campaign effectiveness and inform purchasing decisions through association of an ad click to a specific mobile device



Branding vs. Performance

Mobile marketers’ campaign goals generally fall into one of 2 categories: branding or performance. Performance marketing pushes for tangible and (comparatively) immediate metrics: acquiring users, driving registrations, or increasing revenue.  Branding campaigns, however, promote long-term engagement and brand loyalty, and tend to see less tangible results in the short-term metrics.



A user acquisition strategy seeking to gain as many users as possible within a short amount of time.  While these broadly-targeted users won’t necessarily be the most loyal, the spray-and-pray tactic can do wonders in gaining traction and publicity. Learn more about burst vs. highly targeted campaign approaches here.



CPA – Cost per action or Cost per acquisition

Cost per action (CPA) is the price the advertiser pays for each occurrence of a specific predetermined action


CPAU – Cost per active user

CPAU refers to the average cost of obtaining each engaged active user through an advertising campaign. CPAU is a further indicator of campaign success, going beyond the install to focus on user quality


CPC – Cost per click

Another way of measuring the mobile ad performance,  CPC is defined as the average cost of a user clicking on any one ad. CPC is the actual amount that the advertiser pays the publisher each time a user clicks an ad in a PPC campaign.


CPI – Cost per install or Cost per impression

CPI refers to the average cost of getting a user to download an app through an advertising campaign.  Though CPIs can be a fair indicator of success, lower costs should not be the unique measure of campaign efficiency, as they don’t account for important user loyalty and engagement data—i.e., registration rates, percentage of returning users, etc.  


CPL – Cost per lead

Refers to the relationship between the cost of a marketing campaign and the number of leads generated by the campaign efforts


CPM – Cost per thousand

CPM is the price for every 1,000 times an ad is displayed (mille being one thousand in Latin). Oftentimes desktop ad campaigns aiming to maximize impressions at low cost run on a CPM basis.


CPPU – Cost per paying user

This metric focuses on monetization, measuring the relationship between the cost of a marketing campaign and the number of paying monetized users acquired by the campaign; defined as the total campaign costs divided by the number of paying users acquired


CPV – Cost per view

CPV is the amount an advertiser pays each time a video is viewed by a user. Consequently, with a cost per completed view (CPCV) campaign, advertisers only pay when a user watches the entire video ad without getting impatient and skipping it.


CR – Conversion Rate

CR refers to the ratio of number of ad impressions and the number of “converted” users based on predefined campaign goals, this could refer to the number of clicks, downloads, accounts created, or transactions, etc.


CRO – Conversion rate optimization

The process of altering campaign parameters in efforts to improve campaign conversions



Often used when discussing retargeting and engagement, this term refers to app marketer’s need to reach audiences across multiple devices or platforms, such as in-app, the mobile web, tablet, and desktop


CTA – Call to Action

Any good ad visual includes an element that prompts the user towards a further action, this element is referred to as the Call to Action


CTR – Click-through rate

CTR denotes the percentage of people who click on an ad upon seeing it. CTRs can vary, but, generally speaking, the higher the CTR the better the campaign’s performance.



DAU – Daily average users

Represents the average number of users using an app/platform on a daily basis


Device Fragmentation

Similar to OS fragmentation, device fragmentation refers to an environment in which multiple device generations are currently in use. Contrast the iOS phone market – where 7 phones account for 99% of usage – to Android, where it takes over 1,000 phones to cover 99% of use.


DMP – Data Management Platform

A centralized platform that aggregates data from multiple sources; serving as a data warehouse, a DMP receives, stores, and processes data, to spit out insights in a format useful for marketers


DSP – Demand Side Platform

Allows buyers of digital ad inventory to set up campaigns and manage multiple ad exchanges through a single interface. In real-time, the platform used the advertiser’s criteria to mine its publisher network, locate and bid on ad placements, place ads, and manage payment. For mobile advertisers, a DSP automates the manual labor of contacting each publisher separately to locate viable ad placements, all while optimizing and scaling campaigns in real time.



eCPM – Earnings per thousand impressions

Defined as the install rate multiplied by CPI

eCPM is calculated by dividing total earnings by total number of impressions in thousands. Used as a performance measure, you can use eCPM to compare your results when experimenting with different ad units.



The act of increasing user value by attracting new users and driving passive users to engage with a brand



First-party data

Audience and marketing data an advertiser has gathered directly that is used to inform campaign decisions



A pricing strategy by which an application such as software, media, games or web services is provided free of charge, but money (premium) is charged for proprietary features, functionality, or virtual goods



GAID – Google Advertising Identifier

Also known as the AAID or Android Advertising ID, the GAID is Google’s device identifier used to track conversions and loyalty; can be reset systematically by the individual



Refers to the use of gameplay elements, such as earning points, in a non-game app or platform



IAB – Interactive Advertising Bureau

An international organization of close to 700 member companies serving to develop technical standards and best practices in the realm of digital advertising


IDFA – Identifier for Advertising

An IDFA is an Apple identifier unique to each device used to track conversions and loyalty, comparable to an advertiser cookie on desktop. Used by mobile advertisers, it is an effective identification method to track past iOS ad campaign interactions and to then optimize and further target ad placements with receptive users. It’s entirely anonymous, revealing no personal identifiable information, and resettable by the user to respect user privacy. The IDFA was implemented shortly after Apple phased out use of the UDID device identifier.



Incentivized app marketing programs reward users for installing and trying new apps.  Many app marketers employ this tactic for burst campaigns, aiming to obtain thousands of new users in a short period.



Interstitial ads appear at transition points in apps (i.e., when an app opens or after a level in a game is completed). They typically take over the whole screen, requiring users to tap to dismiss them; as a result they often generate better results for advertisers at higher CPMs. Explore all ad formats and sizes in the BidMotion library here.


IO – Insertion Order

The final step in an ad proposal process, a signed IO confirms the commitment from an advertiser to run an ad campaign on a publisher’s site



Mobile operating system developed by Apple and distributed uniquely on Apple devices



LBS – Location-based services

Any service that exploits user location information; in the case of mobile campaign targeting, location information from internal device GPS is included to enable granular user-level targeting


LTV – Lifetime value

LTV refers to the value of a customer as they make purchases throughout the customer lifespan. Effective mobile campaign aim not only for UA, but in quality acquisitions for high LTV users.



MAU – Monthly active users

Represents the average number of users using an app/platform on a monthly basis. MAU is a useful measure of app performance, as it captures not only users who have installed an app or platform, but those who are actively using said application. Measuring active users as opposed to simple installs can serve to measure user loyalty over time.


MNO – Mobile network operator

A wireless service provider or network carrier providing mobile communication services to end-users


Mobile web

Browser-based internet services accessed via a mobile device. Mobile ad placements are available both in mobile web and in-app.



The ability to generate revenue. Monetization can be from affiliate programs, electronic commerce, premium content, advertising or any form of revenue generation.




Native ads are assembled from parts provided by the advertiser (icon, text, banner) in order to blend in with the overall look and feel of the publisher. Typically, these ads have higher conversion rates, but low-to-average click-through rates. This is because of native ads attract fewer but higher-quality users, as those that click on the ad are often doing so with intent.




The process of making individual campaigns as efficient as possible. Primarily done programmatically using algorithms that analyze campaign spend and results, optimization aims to get the most from your ad spend through strategies such as determining the most effective traffic sources, discerning the ideal rank to acquire loyal users, and other tactics.


Organic Installs

Organic installs refers to any installation of an application that is not attributed to a specific source; the user has not responded to a given advertising campaign but has instead proactively sought out a means to install. Measuring organic installs is key for mobile advertisers as this acquisition channel results in engaged users with high LTV.


OS Fragmentation

An OS—or operating system—is considered fragmented when there are multiple versions currently in use. This often complicated the development process, requiring developers to construct different versions of the same app in order to run smoothly across OS version, each with their own specificities.


OS – Operating System

A mobile operating system is the platform on which a device is run, such as Android, iOS, Windows, or Blackberry. OS is but one of many mobile ad campaign targeting parameters.




Although there is not yet a universally accepted, industry-wide definition for programmatic buying, we define it as the use of an automated process to make inventory placement decisions, execute on those decisions, and incorporate closed-loop feedback



In the app marketing world, the publisher is an app or mobile website that displays an ad. Many apps are both publishers (serving ads within their app to monetize) and advertisers (buying ads in other apps to find more users).



Ranking Algorithm

How apps are ranked in the Apple App Store and in Android’s Google Play is determined by algorithms.  Though the exact formulas are unknown, Apple’s rankings are generally understood to be almost exclusively based on volume (how many) and velocity (how quickly) of downloads. Android’s algorithm appears to weigh more factors, including volume and velocity but also ratings, user engagement, SEO factors and social shares.



Ad campaign goal aimed at advancing users along the engagement cycle; transforming users into paying customers by targeting those who have demonstrated interest, but who have not converted by completing a pre-defined action. In the case of mobile advertising, this often refers to targeting users who have downloaded an app but who have not registered an account or completed a first purchase or reservation.


Retention rate

A measure of the the number of users still using a mobile application after a predefined number of days post-installation. The first few days after an app install are key for mobile developers, as uninstall rates are highest during this period and the product must meet user expectations in order to retain users and boost engagement and LTV


ROAS – Return on advertising spend

ROAS is an ad campaign KPI, defined as derived revenue divided by spend. Values less than one indicate that less revenue is generated than is spent on the advertising.


ROI – Return on investment

ROI, key to measuring paid advertising campaign effectiveness, is a common measure demonstrating the return, in the form of gain or loss, relative to a given investment. ROI is most often calculated as investment minus cost, or if a percentage, divided by cost.


RTB – Real time bidding

In a nutshell, real-time bidding platforms allow marketers to programmatically buy and sell ad inventory on a per-impression basis.  By using these automated auctions, marketers can more efficiently optimize spend on campaigns across multiple ad networks.



SDK – Software development kit

An SDK is a set of development tools used by programmers to create programs for a specific platform.  Platform-specificity enables additional functionality for app developers and to include ads by facilitating connections to other programs.

For mobile advertisers, a SDK is integrated into an app’s code by the developer to track pre-defined events (registrations, purchases, application launches, etc). 


SSP – Supply side platforms

The opposite of DSPs, supply-side platforms help publishers programmatically sell ad space


Sustained Acquisition

Many campaigns start strong only to peter out over time, with causes ranging from anything from stale creatives to over-saturated audiences.  Sustained acquisition aims to combat this trend by constantly reevaluating campaigns and continuing to bring in new users.



Third-party data

Information aggregated from outside vendors and audience-management partners, often used to supplement first-party data



UA – User Acquisition

An ad campaign strategy aimed at growing a user base by acquiring new users


UDID – Unique device identifier

A unique 40-digit alphanumeric serial number identified to each iOS powered device


UI – User Interface

Describes the set of commands and controls through which a platform user communicates with the program. UI is designed and optimized in order to achieve maximum user receptivity through intuitive workflows.


UX – User Experience

Encompasses all aspects of an end-user’s interaction with a product or platform. Alongside UI, UX is consistently optimized by specialized designers in order to meet precise customer needs.



VTC – View through conversion

Refers to users who see an ad, do not click it, but then download later


VTR – View through rate

Defined as the number of completed views of a skippable ad over the number of initial impressions