General Glossary


Absolute URL
The full Internet address of a page or other World Wide Web resource. The absolute URL includes a protocol, such as "http," network location, and optional path and file name. For example, is an absolute URL. See also URL.

Ad Hoc Network
A group of stations that collaborates for a special purpose, such as the showing of a onetime TV program or series. Ad hoc is Latin for "for this."

A commercial or program that immediately follows or precedes another on the same TV station.

Advanced Television (ATV)
The FCC’s name for Digital Television (DTV).

Advertising Weight
A measure of advertising delivery, normally stated in terms of number of commercials, homes reached, target audience impressions, and gross rating points.

A notarized statement from a television station that confirms the commercial actually ran at the time shown on the station's invoice.

A TV station, not owned by a network, that grants a network use of specific time periods for network programs and advertising, for compensation. Remainder of broadcast day is programmed locally.

Alternate Delivery Systems (ADS)
TV homes with unwired cable access are referred to as having Alternate Delivery Systems. The four components of ADS are:

  • Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS): Satellite service delivered directly via household's own small (usually 18") dish; the largest component of ADS.
  • Satellite Master Antenna (SMATV): Serves housing complexes and hotels; signals received via satellite and distributed by coaxial cable.
  • Microwave Multi Distribution System (MMDS), "WIRELESS CABLE": Distributes signals by microwave. Home receiver picks up signal, then distributes via internal wiring.
  • Satellite Dish (CBand/KU Band), "Big Dish": Household receives transmissions from a satellite(s), via a 1 to 3 meter dish.

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)
An AFLCIO union of broadcasting workers. Headquartered in New York, near the offices of the major networks, it is the primary organization of broadcast talent, with 30 local chapters. Performers who appear in TV and radio commercials are required to be members of this union and/or other unions. However, spokespersons and others who are retained by public relations professionals for talk shows and other radio and TV programs are not required to be union members, since they are generally not paid for their services.

American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT)
An association in Washington D.C. of women who work in all areas of broadcasting.

Audience Composition
The distribution of a station's audience by demographic group.

Audience Duplication
The extent to which the audience of one station is exposed to that of another.

Audience Flow
A measure of the change in audience during and between programs. Audience flow shows the percentages of people or households who turn on or off a program, switch to or from another channel, or remain on the same channel as the previous program.

Automated Measurement of Lineups (AMOL)
The technology which allows Nielsen Media Research (NMR) to track an identification code within locally transmitted TV signals for network and nationally syndicated programs. NMR is also linked by computers to networks and syndicators in order to receive their latest schedule changes. Using this technology, NMR can pin down exactly what program was shown on what channel at a particular time.

Average Audience (AA)
A widely used rating term, expressed as a percentage, to reflect viewing to the average minute of a program or time period. It is an average of the audience at minute 1, 2, 3, etc. As such, it serves as an estimate of the average commercial audience (households or persons).

Average QuarterHour Audience
Estimated number of people who watch a program or station for a minimum of five minutes within a specific quarter hour.

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Back Channel
A means of communication from users to content providers. As content providers are transmitting interactive television (analog or digital) to users, users can connect through a back channel to a website. It can be used to provide feedback, purchase goods and services, etc.

The exchange of quantities of commercial time for merchandise or services.

Barter Syndication
A program distribution method in which the syndicator retains and sells a portion of the show’s advertising time. In “cash plus barter,” the syndicator also receives some money from the station on which the program airs.

Basic Cable
Channels received by cable subscribers at no extra charge, usually supported by advertising and small persubscriber fees paid by cable operators.

A brief announcement, usually 3, 5 or 10 seconds in length, and usually earned by advertisers paying extra for the program being ordered. Billboards are afforded, in most instances, at the top and bottom (beginning and end) of the show. The product and/or sponsor's name is mentioned in a statement such as "…the following portion of (program) is being brought to you by (sponsor)… "Also, called OPEN when used at the top of a show, and CLOSE when used at the bottom of a show.

Brand Development Index (BDI)
A measure of the relationship of a specific brand's sales to population in a specific geographic area. The BDI is calculated by dividing an area's percent of total U.S. sales by that area's percent of population.

Broadband Services
Highspeed cable Internet, digital cable and digital phone services all through a single pipeline.

Broadcast Calendar
This standard broadcast calendar, created in the 1960s, is designed to conform to the uniform billing period adopted by broadcasters, agencies and advertisers for billing and planning functions. Under this system, the standard week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. The standard broadcast billing month always ends on the last Sunday of the calendar month.

Broadcast Coverage Area
The geographic area that receives a signal from an originating television station.

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Cable Television (Cable TV or CATV)
A television distribution system whereby TV signals are transmitted via cable (insulated wire), rather than through the air, to TV sets subscribers in a community or locality. Cable television systems are generally called cable systems; the companies that own and operate them are known as cable system operators or cablecasters.

A specific advertising effort on behalf of a particular product or service which extends for a specified period of time.

Category Development Index (CDI)
A measure of the relationship of a specific category's sales to population in a specific geographic area. The CDI is derived by dividing an area's percent of total U.S. sales by that area's percent of population. Comparing BDI and CDI can be helpful in gauging brand or category potential.

Excessive amounts of advertising carried by media vehicles. Term refers to the total amount of advertising time and space and to scheduling long strings of consecutive commercials for broadcasting.

A statement (verbal or written) given to advertising agencies by a network, station, or rep firm when accepting an order for a commercial and/or media schedule.

Scheduling advertising consistently over a period of time without interruption in order to build or maintain advertising awareness and recall.

CoOp Advertising
TV advertising paid for jointly by a manufacturer and retailer.

CostPerRating Point (CPP)
Used by most media planners in developing and allocating market budgets and setting rating point goals. It is defined as the cost of reaching one percent of the target audience within a specified geographic area.

Average Cost per Spot
Cost of Schedule

Average Rating Point per Spot
Gross Rating Points

Cost Per Thousand (CPM)
The cost of reaching 1,000 homes or individuals with a specific advertising message. CPM is a standard advertising measure to compare the relative cost efficiency of different programs, stations, or media.

The percentage of homes or persons receiving a particular broadcast signal within a specific geographic area.

A cash deduction for the loss of advertising time when a commercial is not aired or is improperly scheduled.

Cumulative Audience (CUME)
It is the total nonduplicated audience for one or a series of telecasts, programs, messages, or timeperiods. It is expressed as a percentage of a given universe. A household or person is counted once no matter how many times the telecast has been viewed. This also is known as reach, net unduplicated audience, or net reach.

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The broadcast of information and other services using a digital television channel. Broadcasters can offer additional related information while a program is being viewed.

The time segments that divide the TV day for ad scheduling purposes. These segments generally reflect a television station's programming patterns. Comparison of audience estimates between dayparts may indicate differences in size and composition of available audience. While dayparts may vary by market, station and affiliation, the most common dayparts* are:

Early Morning 5:00am9:00am Prime 8:00pm11:00pm (MSat)
Daytime 9:00am3:00pm
7:00pm11:00pm (Sunday)
Early Fringe 3:00pm5:00pm Late News 11:00pm11:30pm
Early News 5:00pm7:00pm Late Fringe 11:30pm2:00am
Prime Access 7:00pm8:00pm Overnight 2:00am5:00am
*Eastern Time

An electronic device used for converting a scrambled TV signal into a viewable picture.

Audience composition based on various socioeconomic characteristics such as age, sex, income, education, household size, occupation, etc.

Designated Market Area (DMA)
Represents an exclusive geographic area of counties in which the home market stations are estimated to have the largest quarterhour audience share (as defined by Nielsen).

Digital Television (DTV)
Generic term that refers to all digital television formats, including highdefinition television (HDTV) and standarddefinition television (SDTV).

Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
Refers to “digital video recorder,” also known as “personal video recorder.” A DVR or PVR records broadcasts on a hard disk drive which can then be played back at a later time (this is known as “time shifting”). A DVR often enables smart programming, in which the device records an entire series or programming defined by keywords, genre, or personnel; and offers pause control over “live” broadcasts.

A difference between station billing and the original order; requires a discussion between the buyer and the station before the invoice is paid.

Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS)
Television technology that delivers signals directly from a satellite to a home through the use of a small (usually 18") dish.

Direct Response
Advertising that seeks direct and prompt response from the viewer by means of exhibiting telephone numbers, box numbers, or other means of getting the viewer to order or inquire about objects shown.

Digital Versatile Disk (DVD)
DVD, which once stood for Digital Video Disk or Digital Versatile Disk, is optical disk storage technology. A DVD holds a minimum of 4.7GB (gigabytes) of information on one of its two sides, or enough for a 133minute movie. With two layers on each of its two sides, it will hold up to 17 gigabytes of video, audio, or other information.

DropIn Ad
A local commercial inserted into a national program, or more generally, an advertising message inserted into a larger advertisement, as for a local dealer or retailer, or a phrase, such as a public service slogan, or symbol; also called a hitchhike ad.

An instance where two stations in the same designated market area are owned by the same party. Though once forbidden by the FCC, the rules surrounding duopolies have been relaxed in recent years.

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Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)
See definition under EBusiness.

The transfer of data from one computer to another. When computers connect, trading partners can conduct business transactions electronically. EBusiness promises a more efficient procedure for processing Spot TV buys electronically.

The relationship of media cost to audience delivery.

Equal Time
The FCC’s Equal Opportunities Rule (part of Section 315 of the Communications Act) states that if a broadcast station or cable system gives or sells time to one candidate for public office, it must offer equivalent time to other candidates. News shows are exempt.

A person's physical contact with an advertising medium or message. It can be in visual and/or audio form.

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
An independent United States government agency, directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is charged with regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable. The FCC's jurisdiction covers the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. possessions.

A scheduling tactic that alternates periods of advertising with periods of no activity.

Fragmentation (Audience)
The increasing number of audience subdivisions which, together, constitute total TV usage. Television audiences are said to be fragmented, for example, across a broad spectrum of video sources: multiple broadcast networks, cable networks, syndicated programs, DBS services, VCR and video game usage, Internet usage, etc.

The average number of times an accumulated audience has the opportunity to be exposed to advertisements, a particular program, or program schedule, within a measured period of time. Reach x Frequency = Gross Rating Points.

Full Power TV Station
Any analog television station operating on channels 269 that is not licensed as a Class A, Low Power TV, TV translator, or TV booster.

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Geographic Targeting, or GeoTargeting
The process of identifying a brand’s geographic areas of opportunity, or the markets (DMAs) in which advertising is most likely to produce sales. Geographic targeting combines demographic and sales data to reach highpotential customers.

Gross Rating Points (GRP)
The sum of individual telecast ratings on a total program basis or advertiser commercial schedule, without regard to duplication. For example, 10 announcements each with a 10 rating would produce a total of 100 GRPs.

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Period in a campaign when an advertiser's schedule is suspended for a short period of time, after which the schedule resumes.

High Definition Television (HDTV)
Various technical systems providing a finer and wider TV picture and usually twice as many scanning lines as standard TV. Provides the highest quality picture and sound simultaneously with a substantial data delivery service.

Households Using Television (HUT)
The percentage of all television households in a survey area with one or more sets in use during a specific time period.

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Number of homes or individuals exposed to an advertisement or group of advertisements.

Independent Station
Stations not affiliated with any network, usually refers to commercial stations only.

A television commercial that is similar in appearance to a news program or talk show format, usually 30minutes in length.

Interactive Television
A combination of television with interactive content. Programming can include richer graphics, oneclick access to websites through TV Crossover Links, electronic mail and chats, and online commerce through a back channel.

Two or more cable systems distributing a commercial signal simultaneously, and offering a multiple system buy in which only one contract need be negotiated. Interconnects can be hard, where systems are directly linked by cable, microwave relays or by satellite, and the signal is fed to the entire Interconnect by one headend; or soft, where there is no direct operational connection between the participating systems.

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A Leadin is a program that immediately precedes another program on the same station or network. A Leadout is a program that immediately follows another program.

Live Ratings
Nielsen Media Research term for ratings reported as strictly live with no DVR playback activity.

Live Plus Ratings
Nielsen Media Research term for live ratings plus sevenday DVR playback activity.

Live Plus Same Day Ratings (Same Day Ratings)
Nielsen Media Research term for live ratings plus DVR playback activity until 3:00 am of the same Nielsen day

Local Marketing Agreement (LMA)
An agreement between two owners in which one markets and sells advertising for the other.

Local Spot
The advertising purchased in a market and aimed only at the audience in that market.

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A spot offered by a station in place of a regularly scheduled announcement that did not run or was improperly aired.

Media Mix
The distribution of time and money allocated among TV, radio, print and Internet advertising that makes up the total advertising budget of an advertiser, agency or media buyer.

Metro Area
A U.S. Government definition; the counties that comprise each Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs)
A multichannel video program distributor is an entity such as a cable operator, a BRS/EBS provider, a direct broadcast satellite service, a television receiveonly satellite program distributor, or a satellite master antenna television system operator, that makes available for purchase, by subscribers or customers, multiple channels of video programming.

Broadcasting several programs at once via DTV on a single channel. A viewer might be able to receive two programs at the same time, and choose the program preferred.

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National Association of Broadcasters (NAB)
A nonprofit organization supported by TV and radio broadcasters whose purpose is to demonstrate to legislative bodies and other interested parties that broadcasters can maintain adequate standards without government interference.

National Spot
A form of broadcast advertising in which national advertisers, through their agency or buying service, select their target markets and stations to fit their marketing needs. The station usually has a contract with a rep firm to represent it to ad agencies.

A connecting system which allows simultaneous telecasting of a single origination by a number of stations.

Nielsen Media Research (NMR)
A firm involved in local and national measurement of the TV audience; also involved in other research activities.

Nielsen Station Index (NSI)
Local market audience measurement reports.

Nielsen Television Index (NTI)
National network audience measurement reports.

National television system committee. The organization that developed the analog television standard currently in use in the U.S., Canada, and Japan. Now generally used to refer to that standard. The NTSC standard combines blue, red, and green signals modulated as an AM signal with an FM signal for audio.

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O&O Station
A television station owned and operated by a national network.

Term used for a method of media planning using computer programs that develop the optimum media mix to spend advertising dollars most effectively. These media modeling systems allocate using media audience and cost data for all measured media vehicles plus the brand’s requirements in terms of budget, target audience, reach & frequency goals and other factors. Television optimizers identify the combination of programs, dayparts and stations that will optimize reach at the lowest cost.

A scheduling method in which the advertiser's commercials are rotated among different programs and/or time periods; this may also be called a rotation.

OverTheAir (OTA)
Also known as terrestrial television, a wireless broadcast of television using antennas.

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A combination of commercial units offered as a group to an advertiser. A package is generally priced more attractively than the collective costs for each commercial unit. A package may also be called a rotation or scatter plan.

PayPerView TV (PPV)
A system in which payment is made for a single showing of a program. Subscribers of the paytelevision company can phone in their "orders"prior to a showing, activate the system – that is, clear the scrambled channel – or press a button to utilize twoway equipment that activates the system.

Pay Television (Pay TV)
Home television programming for which the viewer pays by the program or by the month; also called paytelevision, subscription television (STV), or tollTV. Pay television includes overtheair transmission (with scrambled signals) and cable transmission (pay cable).

A proportion of households owning televisions or subscribing to cable.

Personal People Meter (PPM)
Hardware currently being tested by Arbitron. The PPM is a pagersized device that is worn by consumers throughout the day to automatically detect inaudible codes that radio and television broadcasters and cable networks embed in the audio portion of their programming.

Personal Video Recorder (PVR)
PVRs are digital devices that use a hard drive instead of videotape as the recording medium. PVRs blend the features of a VCR with the programmability and storage of a computer.

Persons Using Television (PUT)
A measurement of the total number of people in the target audience who are watching television for five minutes or longer during an average quarterhour. PUT is generally expressed as a percent.

The backtoback scheduling of two or more brand commercials of one advertiser in network or spot positions.

A group of commercials, promos or announcements contained in a television program break.

Post Buy Analysis
An analysis of schedule performance after it runs; offers a means of measuring a media buy as run versus goal or original estimate of achievement.

An omission of an announcement from a previously confirmed broadcast schedule; the advertiser is either offered a makegood or takes a credit.

Audience analysis on the basis of psychological factors such as lifestyles, values, and interests and how they affect purchase behavior.

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Quarter Hour Audience
Individuals viewing a station at least five minutes in a specific 15minute period.

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A percentage of total households or population owning TVs who are tuned to a particular program or station at a specific time (e.g., a six rating for women 1849 means 6 percent of all women 1849 in the defined geographic area were viewing that station or program).

Rating Point
A value equal to one percent of a population or universe.

The number of unduplicated households or people exposed to a program, group of programs, or an advertiser's schedule over a specific time period. Reach x Frequency = Gross Rating Points

Rep Firm
Media sales representation company with offices in major advertising centers which represents stations in various markets for national advertising sales.

Scheduling of advertising in the same program or time period on different days each week (horizontal rotation) or throughout a particular day (vertical rotation) in order to increase advertising exposure to different prospects.

RunOfSchedule (ROS)
Scheduling of commercials at any time of a station's choosing.

Road Blocking
The scheduling of a brand's commercial at approximately the same time on all networks, or all stations in a given market.

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Satellite Station
A station that has agreed to rebroadcast the transmission of another station (generally operating in a larger nearby market) to an area that cannot otherwise be served by that station.

The concentration of a heavy amount of advertising in a short period of time in order to attain maximum reach.

Scatter Plan
Scheduling method where the advertiser's commercials are rotated among a broadly described group of programs and/or time periods. The advantage is that the advertiser gains a greater net audience (reach); the disadvantage may be that the station may include less attractive spots/commercial units in the schedule.

A listing of the time of day and dates an advertiser's commercials are planned to run.

Settop box (STB)
These receivers (named because they typically sit on top of a television set) convert and display broadcasts from one frequency or type – analog cable, digital cable, or digital television – to a standard frequency (typically channel 3 or 4) for display on a standard analog television set.

The percent of households (or persons) using television who are tuned to a specific program, network, or station at a specific time.

The penetration of a television signal transmitted from outside the market area.

The transmission of a television signal beyond its own market area.

When a character/characters and/or a concept from a television series is "spunoff" to its own series. Examples include "The Jeffersons" and "Maude" spunoff from "All in the Family" or "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" spunoff from "Law & Order."

The purchase of all or part of a television program by one advertiser.

Spot TV
The advertising time purchased from individual stations. There are two major types local and national. Local spots are purchased in one market and aimed only at the audience in that particular market. National spots are bought by national advertisers in several markets.

Standard Definition Television (SDTV)
An alternative method of operation for digital television which offers the opportunity to transmit two to eight standard quality programs in place of, but in the same channel as, that used for HDTV. By employing higher compression ratios, more programs may be transmitted.

Standard Error
The estimated standard deviation of a statistic (margin of error). Standard error of a sample mean equals sample standard deviation divided by the square root of the sample size.

Refers to a television program aired five days a week, mainly Monday Friday.

A station that provides satellite transmission of its signal to cable systems throughout the country. The extended coverage allows the superstation to claim increased viewership.

Ratings surveys in which local markets are simultaneously measured by a rating service.

Syndicated Program
A program that is produced for national distribution, but which is shown on individual local stations rather than on a national network is called a syndicated program. These programs may be sponsored either locally or nationally.

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Target Audience
The audience most desired by advertisers in terms of potential product/service usage and revenue potential.

Television Households
An estimate of the number of households that have one or more television sets.

Total Audience
Percent of households tuning to all or to any portion of a program for at least 6 minutes.

Total Survey Area (TSA)
A geographic area term; includes metro area and any additional counties where a statistically significant amount of viewing can be attributed to stations originating in the metro area. These outlying counties may well be a part of an adjacent metro area or DMA.

TV Usage
Households Using Television (HUT) and Persons Using Television (PUT); total viewing to all television.

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Ultra High Frequency (UHF)
An area of the broadcast spectrum that carries television signals for stations with channels 14 through 83.

Universe Estimate (UE)
The population chosen for a research study. The estimated number of actual households or people from which the sample will be taken and to which data will be projected.

The first selling wave for broadcast and cable networks and syndication. It usually occurs in the spring after the new fall schedules have been announced and presented to major advertisers. The commercial time not sold in the upfront is sold later in the season in the scatter market.

Is the acronym for a website's Uniform Resource Locator, also known as a web address. It is generally displayed in web browsers with a leading HTTP, HTTPS, or www. A URL may contain a specific character string linking to a specific website resource; for example pages, images and files. Most web browsers display the URL of a web page in its address bar at the top of the site or in a status bar at the bottom of the browser.

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Viewers Per Viewing Household (VPVH)
The number of viewing persons tuning in per household; usually reported as "per 1000 viewing households."

Video OnDemand (VOD)
Allows VCRtype control of broadcast or cable programs, or video and movies offered on a PPV basis.

ViP (Viewers in Profile)
The local television ratings book from Nielsen Media Research, issued after sweeps periods for each of the 210 television markets in the U.S.

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Weighted Average
A statistical quantity calculated by multiplying each value in a group by an assigned weight, summing these products and dividing the total by the sum of the weights.

Wraparound Commercial
A commercial with noncommercial material wrapped around it, such as a question about a past sports event at the beginning and the answer at the end; sometimes called an insert, as when it is inserted within a movie surrounded by questions about the movie.

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