Media-Buying Terms – Say What?

As I sat in front of my computer, looking at a blank Word document and a blinking cursor and wondering what to write about, I started typing out ideas. After all, I had to get SOMETHING on that scary, blank page! As I got a few ideas on the paper…I started to wonder if anyone outside of the media world would even know what I was talking about. All the jargon and acronyms that are rampant in advertising often make it sound like we are speaking another language, especially when it comes to media-buying terms.

So, in order for any future blogs of mine to make sense to the general public, let’s just run through 10 commonly used terms you will hear in any media department. I promise – there won’t be a quiz!


The number or percentage of individuals or households reached by an advertising campaign at least once during the media buy.


The average number of times that an individual is exposed to an ad or campaign. Just because your commercial airs 30 times per week on a radio or TV station, doesn’t mean a consumer will hear it 30 times. No one listens to a radio station or watches TV 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Frequency gives you an idea of how many times the station’s average listener/viewer will be exposed to your commercial message.


GRP, or Gross Rating Point, is a standard measure in advertising that measures impact. It is calculated as a percent of the target market reached multiplied by the exposure frequency. If you have a reach of 40 percent of the target market and give them three exposures, you would have 120 GRPs. 1 GRP = 1 percent of the potential universe that has been exposed to the advertising.


CPP, or Cost Per Point, refers to how much it costs to reach each percentage of the population you are trying to reach, or a point. Remember from above, a ratings point reflects 1 percent of that population. So, if you want to reach 2 percent of all people ages 25-54, you need to look for a program that has at least a rating of 2.0 in that age cell.


The total average number of distributed copies of a publication during a specific length of time/issue.


Over-The-Top is the term used for the delivery of film and TV content via the internet without requiring a traditional cable or satellite service subscription. Services like Netflix and Hulu are OTT providers.


Basically, it means your spot got bumped.

On TV especially, your spot might not run as scheduled for any number of reasons. If a program is sold out, some advertisers may pay a higher rate to get airtime. The station will drop advertisers based on their priority to feature the highest paying advertisers. Priority can be based on an advertiser’s rate or the date they purchased the advertising. Often, the last advertiser who purchased is the first to be bumped.

When your spot is preempted, you usually have one of the following options to choose from:

  1. Run the spot in the same program on a different day or week
  2. Run the spot in a comparable program (option 1 and 2 are both called a “make-good”)
  3. They will give you a credit for the cost of the spot that did not run

If you are running a schedule that is crucial for the spot to run as ordered (you’re having a sale and the spot is time sensitive), you should consider negotiating a non-preemptible rate.


A report based on ratings that shows a selected demographic audience of each radio or TV station in a market ranked from the highest to the lowest.


The time segments into which a day is divided by for the purpose of selling advertising time.


Cost per thousand (yeah, I know it’s CPM, not CPT). This is the cost to reach one thousand potential customers or households.

Media-buying Terms

That’s it for the common terms you need to know. If you’re interested in learning more about the kind of budget you’ll need for a media buy, check out my other blog: