Acrimonious PPC Acronyms

Acrimonious PPC Acronyms

If you know anything about digital marketing, you know there is no shortage of acronyms. Besides the obvious PPC nickname, Pay-per-click is notorious for acronyms, some of which you may recognize, others of which you may be scratching your head and uttering H-U-H?

In what I like to refer to as the Google-Go-Round of conversion tracking and attribution, it is easier and easier for shady agencies to subjectively spin data and terminology. Did I mention that tracking and attribution can also differ or be inconsistent between Google Ads and Google Analytics?

Acrimonious PPC Acronyms

Following are some of the most common acronyms you’ll see within the world of PPC:

Acrimonious PPC Acronyms

ACRONYM: CTR
STANDS FOR: Clickthrough Rate
THE MATH: Total number of clicks divided by total number of impressions
TRANSLATION: When you consider all the people seeing your ads, this is the percentage of who actually clicked them.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!: That is, how well your ads are or are not resonating with users.


ACRONYM: CPC
STANDS FOR: Cost Per Click
THE MATH: Total cost divided by total number of clicks
TRANSLATION: When you consider all the costs and all the clicks, this is the average per click.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!: Fasten your safety belt, as some places, PPC is referred to as CPC, including Google Analytics, despite the fact that Google Ads and the majority of the industry refers to it as PPC.


ACRONYM: CPM
STANDS FOR: Cost Per Thousand Impressions
THE MATH: Total cost divided by total number of impressions, the result of which is then multiplied by 1,000
TRANSLATION: When you consider all the costs and all the impressions, this is the average cost per 1,000 impressions.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!: This is often used with Display Network advertising, and as it sounds, charges the advertiser based upon how often a pair of eyes (or technically 1,000 pairs of eyes, or 2,000 eyeballs in total, but I digress) rather than when someone actually clicks an ad.


ACRONYM: CR
STANDS FOR: Conversion Rate
THE MATH: Total conversions divided by total number of clicks
TRANSLATION: When you consider all of the clicks and all of the conversions, this is the percentage of users who actually took a desired action, also known as a conversion.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!: You won’t have this data unless you have conversion tracking properly set up, installed, and tested.


ACRONYM: IS
STANDS FOR: Impression Share
THE MATH: Total number of impressions received divided by total number of impressions you were eligible to receive
TRANSLATION: When you consider all of the impressions you received versus all the available impressions out there, this shows the percentage of coverage you are getting and missing.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!: Impression Share is broken down by Search Network and Display Network, respectively. Within each network, it is then broken down by:

  • Budget (meaning how your budget is or isn’t limiting your reach)
  • Rank (meaning how your quality is or isn’t limiting your reach)

ACRONYM: QS
STANDS FOR: Quality Score
THE MATH: This is part of Google’s secret sauce and is not disclosed by the giant.
TRANSLATION: There are known and unknown factors that contribute to this score, which pertains to keywords, and is rated on a lowest-to-highest scale of 1-10. The three key known variables are:

  • Ad Relevance
  • Expected CTR
  • Landing Page Experience

BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!: Quality Score and bid make up Ad Rank, which determines if/how/where your ad will appear within PPC results.


ACRONYM: CPA
STANDS FOR: Cost Per Acquisition, aka Cost Per Action, aka Cost Per Conversion (the latter of which is not to be confused with CPC)
THE MATH: Total cost divided by total number of conversions.
TRANSLATION: This can vary greatly based upon whether a desired action is a lead, a confirmed order, or another action such as an email newsletter signup.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE!: You won’t have this data unless you have conversion tracking properly set up, installed, and tested.

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