If you’ve ever done research on paid advertising, been pitched by an agency or received a campaign report, you’ve probably been bombarded with three letter abbreviations like CTR, CVR, CPM…the list goes on. And on.

The abbreviations all tie back to performance metrics meant to help you understand the cost and performance of your advertising campaigns. But what are some of the ones you’ll see on a report and what do they mean?

Top paid advertising acronyms

Email – like any channel – comes with a wealth of data. Some are directional. Some are actionable. And some may simply not apply to assessing the effectiveness of your campaign.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Search advertising platforms, such as Google AdWords, Amazon Advertising and Bing, operate on a pay per click model. This means that the advertiser is charged each time a user clicks on their ad. They are not charged if the ad appears (i.e. an impression) but does not receive a click.


An impression is whenever the advertisement is loaded in a browser. Impressions can be a search ad, paid social advertisement, banner ad or any number of digital formats.

Cost Per Mille or Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)

CPM refers to the average cost of 1,000 ad impressions. For example, an advertiser may charge a fee to have your ad appear a certain number of times on their site, and that factors into the CPM.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

In a PPC model, CPC is the cost of advertising based on the number of clicks the ad receives.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

The number of clicks that the ad receives divided by the number of times the ad appears.

Call To Action (CTA)

The CTA is the specific action advertisers want customers to take. On a website or landing page, some examples of CTA’s are “Sign up” with an email submission form, or “Book Now” for an event or consultation.

Cost Per Acquisition or Action (CPA)

The average cost of driving a specific action through advertising is called the CPA. The specific action can vary widely based on the advertiser’s goals, but it generally occurs on a website or landing page (such as an email sign up).

Conversion Rate (CVR)

The rate that visitors who click on your advertisement, and then complete the desired action at your website or online destination.

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

Similar to ROI, ROAS is the revenue generated from your advertising campaign divided by the cost of running the campaign.

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