A media planning and buying glossary

Media planning and buying can seem inscrutable to those not used to the industry-specific language used.

It might be useful to the agency looking to keep their clients at a disadvantage – but we are not that agency. These are all the terms you need to know to sound like an industry insider.

These are all the terms you need to know to sound like an industry insider.

ABC1 profiling

This is a system used by the UK media world to classify demographic groups based on their social status and occupation. The different social grades run from A (upper-middle-class professionals) to E (those at the lowest level of subsistence/casual workers). It’s rather an archaic system, truth be told, but sometimes used to identify the target group a brand is looking to reach.

Ambient Advertising

Similar to OOH advertising, ambient advertising is experienced outside of the home and tends to be unusual media platforms. For example, we advertised on chicken boxes and beer mats for a campaign we produced with Time To Change Wales. Ambient advertising provides an opportunity to communicate a tailored message through an appropriately matched media platform and helps brands get closer to their audience.

Air date

The date your TV/radio ad goes live. A big (exciting) day!


This refers to the dates that specific media space is available for booking by a media planner on behalf of the client’s advertising campaign. These dates need to fit into the media plan timeline.

Copy deadline

The date all creative work is due into the media agency. The format of the media dictates how soon to the publishing/airing date the copy is needed.


The number of copies a newspaper/magazine distributes per issue. This information is collated quarterly and provides an invaluable resource for media planning.


Click-through rate. In a digital advertising campaign, this refers to the number of people that click a specified link. It is calculated by dividing the number of click-throughs by the number of impressions.

Cost per thousand

The cost of reaching 1,000 potential customers through a specific media platform.

Digital Advertising

Any type of advertising that is delivered through a digital media platform. This could be via a website (including social media sites), an email campaign, SEM (search engine marketing) and mobile advertising.

Drive Time

Radio talk for commuter ‘o’ clock. This is when people are most likely to be in their cars, listening to the radio (weekdays 6-10 AM and 3-7 PM). Primetime radio advertising slots.


Broadcasters segment the day into parts, based around the programming schedule – dayparts. Media planners can book an advertisement into a selected daypart based on the TV consumption behaviour of the target audience (the times of day the target audience tends to be watching television.


With regards to OOH advertising, this refers to the number of people who pass by a specific billboard at a given time.


The number of times, on average, a member of the target audience will see one specific ad. Three is the magic number. In an ideal world, a member of the target audience will be exposed to an advertisement at least three times. This is the same as O.T.S/O.T.H.


The total number of times an advert is seen across a campaign (irrelevant of repeat views by the same person). The number of impressions can be figured out by multiplying the reach by the frequency.

Lead time

This is the length of time before the air-date that a media owner needs to have their hands on the copy (as provided by the client, via the media agency).

Media buying

Sitting at the end of a media plan, media buying is the task of purchasing prearranged media space from a media owner on behalf of a client. The media agency will try to secure the most appropriate media space for the best price.

Media cost (per insert)

Simply, the cost of running each ad individually e.g. the cost of one print advertisement printed in one edition of Time Out and circulated to the entire audience.

Media planning

Something we spend so much time thinking about we dedicated a whole article to The craft of…hang on, refer to “What is media planning?” for a stronger definition.

Media platforms

The various formats through which advertisements run. Also referred to as media vehicles or media channels. The choice of media platform is a key part of the media plan. Different audiences use different media platforms at different times.

Media owners

These are the guys that actually own the media space (the billboard, the TV channel, website et cetera), and who the media buyer deals with when looking to ‘rent’ this space.

Media space

The “space”, being the page in a magazine or slot in a radio schedule, that is allocated and available for advertising.

Mosaic profiling

Similar to ABC1 groups, this is a demographic segmentation system that allows media planners to label a specific target audience based on social group, household income, career choices, nationality, religion and age.


Opportunity to see/Opportunity to hear. This is the same as frequency. The number of times a member of the target audience is exposed to an advertisement. Not to be confused with impressions.

OOH advertising

Out of home advertising. This includes media platforms that are, literally, outside of the home. Typical examples include billboards, bus shelter posters, taxi/bus wraps to list a few.


Post Campaign Analysis. A media planner will put together a document that outlines how the campaign performed. Data such as the reach, impressions and frequency should be included.


The percentage of total homes/people in a specific area who could potentially be reached through a particular media platform.

Rate card

Think of a rate card as a menu of media spaces offered by a media owner, identifying the price of advertising through each platform for a given time.


The percentage of the total target audience who are exposed to an advertisement at least once during the course of a campaign.


Run of press. This is when a media planner books for a print ad to be placed in a specific newspaper or magazine, but doesn’t require the said ad to be in a specified section. This is a great option for brands looking to target a wide audience.


This is the media plan. The media schedule is the document that outlines exactly what media channels are to be used, when, where, for what duration and also confirms what content is to be used as the advertisement.

Spot time

When a media planner refers to a “spot time”, they are talking about the exact time a client’s advert will be played on the radio/TV. For example, a notoriously valuable television spot is during the X Factor final advertisement break on ITV.

Target audience

This refers to the type of people the client is looking to engage, the audience they want to see/hear their advertisements. Our media planners have the experience and tools to help clients identify their target audience.

Traditional advertising platforms

These are probably the media platforms that first spring to mind when considering the subject. Television, radio, OOH, print (newspaper and magazines), direct mail and cinema.


Television Viewer Ratings. This is the currency used to purchase television advertising space. One TVR equals 1% of a target audience. TVRs express the portion of the total potential TV audience that are watching television at a given time.

Unique users

This is the number of individuals who visit a website over a given period of time (irrelevant of the number of times they visit). It’s a measure of popularity.


The proportion of an advertising campaign output that never reaches the target audience.

6/48/96 sheets

Billboard sizing talk. A 6 sheet is, for example, a bus stop poster (120cm x 128cm) whilst 48 sheets (609.6cm x 204.8cm) ) and 96 sheets (1219.2cm x 204.8cm ) are larger (and larger still!) billboards.

Any questions?

Interested in media planning and buying? Not sure about a word or term? Get in touch and we'll be happy to help.

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