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Media Guru

Encyclopedia of Media Terms

Courtesy of Professor Kent Lancaster and the Media Research Institute.

Table of Contents

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Media Advertising Strengths

Media Data Sources


Advertising carry-over

amount of retention of advertising message effects (e.g., exposure, awareness, recognition, recall) on a selected target audience through time. This is the opposite of the advertising decay rate, and is often referred to as the advertising retention rate . It is useful in estimating cumulative advertising effects.


provides network and spot radio audience data in a variety of formats and release intervals.

Area of Dominant Influence (ADI)

group of counties around a major market or markets whose residents largely listen to or view stations in those markets.

Audience duplication

measure of viewers, readers or listeners who have been exposed two or more times to a vehicle or schedule within a particular time frame. Without such estimates it is generally not possible to determine the reach of a schedule.

Audience spill-over

extent to which secondary target audience members are likely to be exposed to a schedule that is developed for a particular primary target audience.

Audit Bureau of Circulations, Inc. (ABC)

organization that verifies and publishes distribution and other information on newspapers and consumer magazines.

Average frequency

mean number of times target audience members reached by a media plan are exposed to vehicles or messages.

Average quarter hour rating (AQH)

estimate of the percentage of an audience exposed to the typical 15-minute segment across all such segments within a broader daypart. Depending on the method used, to be counted as a listener or viewer the respondent must tune in for at least three or five minutes within a quarter hour segment.


Beta Binomial Exposure Distribution (BBD) Model

popular mathematical procedure for estimating vehicle exposure distributions based on single- insertion ratings and self- and cross-pair reach of the schedule.

Beta Binomial Matrix Exposure Distribution (BBMD) Model

similar to the BBD, which is applied to individual vehicles only, using the product of individual vehicle exposure distributions to derive a multiple vehicle exposure distribution.


term used in connection with outdoor advertising broadly used to encompass: poster panels; 8- sheet, 30-sheet and junior panels; and painted bulletins.


process of restarting a computer, often using the ON/OFF switch (cold boot), or {CTRL} {ALT} {DEL} keys (warm boot). Some microcomputers also accomplish this with reset switches.

Brand Development Index (BDI)

tool often used by advertisers to allocate media effort across markets, where typically an index of 100 means that the percentage of brand sales in a market is proportional to the percentage of target consumers in the market. Planners often customize the se indices to account for a variety of important and weighted marketing factors. These are often used in conjunction with product Category Development Indices (CDIs).

Business Publications Audit of Circulation, Inc. (BPA)

organization that verifies and publishes distribution and other information on industry and trade press.


unit of computer storage usually consisting of eight bits or binary digits; 1,024 bytes equal one kilobyte (Kb), and 1,024 Kb equal one megabyte (Mb).


Category Development Index (CDI)

similar in concept to Brand Development Index (BDI), except that the ratios apply to the category as a whole, not just a single brand.


Choose Edit/Clipboard from the ADplus menu to display the Windows Clipboard.


in media terms, usually refers to the portion of a media audience which falls within specified demographic parameters.

Cost-per-rating point (CPP)

total schedule cost divided by GRPs, or the cost of achieving a single duplicated rating point against a particular target audience.

Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM)

total or vehicle cost divided by gross impressions delivered by a plan, vehicle or message. CPM is a useful measure of plan or vehicle efficiency.


proportion of a target audience that is reached by a media vehicle or schedule.

Cross-pair reach

net audience of one insertion each in a pair of different vehicles. This estimate is a required input into many advertising media exposure distribution models. You can use ADplus default pair-wise data, or provide any that are available to you.

Cumulative audience

(or cume), various definitions depend on the media type. In general, for advertising it refers to the reach of subsequent insertions or time periods within a particular vehicle.


Daily effective circulation (DEC)

outdoor advertising term referring to the gross percentage of a target market that is exposed to a showing on an average day. The measure does not account for audience duplication.


broad television time segments, such as early morning, daytime, early fringe, prime time, fringe and weekend.


categories of audience membership in groups by age, gender, and race, among others. This term is often used to include socio-economic characteristics such as income, education, and occupation, for example, and geodemograpics, crossing market size charact eristics with other demographic and socio-economic factors.

Designated Market Area (DMA)

market definition of Nielsen similar in concept to the ADI.


often used to collect radio and television audience data on a continuous basis. Respondents simply record their media usage patterns for one week or so, and the data are compiled into audience profiles for programs, stations and networks. Telephone surv eys and meters are two alternative tools.


for advertisers from media based on the quantity, volume, expenditures or continuous placement of advertisements is a strong incentive to build frequency within a vehicle, as opposed to building reach across vehicles.

Disk operating system (DOS)

includes a group of software programs used to control or manage microcomputer hardware.


typically is a 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch floppy disk used to store programs, text, data, graphics, and so on, for use in microcomputers.

Display Diagnostics

Choose Display/Diagnostics from the ADplus menu to present pair-wise and vehicle reach and duplication, among several other single media category schedule details.


refer to the 3.5 inch or 5.25 inch floppy disk or hard disk drives typically available on the microcomputer. They are used to read from, or write to, their respective medium.


Effective frequency

range of frequency required for a message to have its intended effect, often set at 3+, 4+, or 3-10 impressions per relevant time period.

Effective reach (n+)

percent of the target audience that has received effective frequency within a relevant time period.



computer screen or printer type face, such as Courier, that is typically measured in points (72 per inch), with characteristics such as bold and italics.


DOS process used to specify the configuration of a floppy or hard disk and to prepare it for receiving electronic information.

Frequency (f)

ranges from zero to the total number of insertions in a media plan.

Frequency distribution

or exposure distribution refers to the percentage of the target audience exposed at each frequency level in a media plan.


Gallup & Robinson, Inc.

provides advertisers with several measures of print and broadcast advertisement registration, communication and effectiveness. These can be used to estimate message/vehicle ratios in media planning programs.

Grid rates

typically used in broadcast to show how prices of announcements vary by daypart and preemptive protection, allowing stations to set prices in relation to demand.

Gross impressions

total duplicated vehicle or message exposures achieved by a plan.

Gross rating points (GRPs)

sum of all vehicle or message rating points delivered by a media plan and are therefore duplicated.


Harvey Research Organization, Inc.

provides publishers of business publications and their advertisers with recall data for readers and buyers on seeing and reading of advertisements, among other information. Editorial and additional services also are available.

Households Using Television (HUT)

percentage of households in a market viewing any programming during a specified daypart. Summing the station or network ratings in a given daypart will equal HUT. Dividing the ratings by HUT will equal the station or network share of audience. In advertising media planning, it is important not to let share and HUT sizes, which are almost always higher than ratings, confuse the critical link between ratings and costs which determines schedule efficiency. Similar concepts include Persons Using Television (PUT), with duplicate terms for radio (e.g., HUR and PUR).


IBM compatible

microcomputer hardware that has been designed to be a clone of standard IBM equipment. IBM stands for International Business Machines Co. which is a major producer of computer products.


A single exposure of an audience member to an advertising unit.


number of advertisements (ads) placed in a vehicle within a specified time period.




83 to 101 or more key device for manually entering information into a computer.


List Broker

or list house refers to an organization that administers direct mail advertising lists, often including purchasing and developing lists, maintaining them, and selling or renting them to clients, among countless other services.



brand of microcomputer products distributed by Apple Computers, Inc.

Math coprocessor

device or computer chip that relieves the central processing unit (CPU) of the computer the task of handling math functions, which the math coprocessor handles more efficiently.

Marketer's Guide to Media (MGM)

published semi-annually by ADWEEK, Inc., provides nearly 200 pages of data on national, ADI and metro audiences and costs for most major advertising media categories.

Media category

or media type refers to a similar group of media vehicles, such as consumer magazines, newspapers, radio stations, and so on.

Media mix

combination of media vehicles and media categories which make up a schedule.

Mediamark Research, Inc. (MRI)

major competitor of SMRB that provides media and product usage data on various audience groups broken down by numerous demographic and socioeconomic variables.

MEDIAWEEK's Guide to Media (MGM)

published quarterly to provide planners with broad data on most major advertising media categories.


any computer screen that offers choices for selection by the user.

Message/vehicle ratio

estimate of the probability of message exposure given vehicle exposure. Data that are helpful in estimating these ratios can be obtained from Starch, Gallup & Robinson, and in-house research, among others.

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA)

counties encompassing an urban market as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Audience measurement services often use these criteria to define their Metro Survey Areas.


television-like device that displays the status of the computer.

Monroe Mendelsohn

provides extensive data for advertisers on upscale audiences in terms of demographics, geodemographics, socio-economic, media usage, and consumption of products and services.



company that provides advertisers and media organizations with spot and network television audience data in a variety of formats and release intervals. Two well-known reports included the Nielsen Station Index (NSI) and the Nielsen Television Index (NTI) prepared for Designated Market Areas (DMAs) and networks respectively. Nielsen is a competitor of Arbitron.




device that prepares hard or paper copies of program output.




offers syndicated radio network audience data to its subscribers as well as an on-line service.


acronym for random access memory, which is electronically activated working space of the computer where programs and files are temporarily stored and manipulated.

Random access memory (RAM)

electronically activated working space of the computer where programs and files are temporarily stored and manipulated.


estimated percentage of a target audience exposed to a media vehicle within a specified time period.

Reach (1+)

estimated percentage of the target audience exposed one or more times to the vehicles or messages in a plan.

Reach (3+)

estimated percentage of the target audience exposed three or more times to the vehicles or messages in a plan.

Reach curves

two-dimensional diagrams showing how audience accumulates with increases in gross rating points or budget levels. The diagrams can be based on individual vehicles, schedules, and single and mixed media options.


total number of individuals in a selected group (e.g., adults, males, females 18-34) that are estimated to recognize, or to have read or looked into a particular publication within an issues life cycle. The technical definition varies, depending on the me thod used to measure it. However it is measured, readership is a more useful tool for advertisers than is circulation.

Readers-per-copy (RPC)

average number of subscribers, newsstand buyers and pass-along readers of a publication for each copy that is distributed (e.g., total readership divided by circulation). This index is often used to estimate readership based on relevant circulation.


offers publishers of agricultural, business, and professional publications, and their advertisers, data on advertising messages, including: recall seeing, recall reading, interest rating, usefulness, perception, attention getting, believability, and infor mation content, among others. The company also conducts custom studies and provides data on readership of editorial content.

Retail trading zone (RTZ)

defined by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) and refers to an urban area outside of the city zone that accounts for the high proportion of a markets retail sales and is also included within a newspaper's circulation.



that point in an array of vehicle, media category, or mixed media options where additional insertions or expenditures lead to limited or unacceptable additions to reach or effective reach.


or plan refers to a group of vehicles that are part of an anticipated purchase designed to have a pre-specified effect on the target audience.


methods of timing advertisements across weeks and months. Typical patterns include continuous, flighting (on/off) and pulsing (high/low).

Self-pair reach

or two-use reach is the net audience of two insertions in a single media vehicle. This is a required input into many advertising media exposure distribution models.


percentage of all viewers or listeners during a particular daypart or program who are tuned to a selected station or network. See also Households Using Television (HUT).


number of illuminated and non-illuminated billboards or poster panels required for daily reach of a specified proportion of the mobile population within a market. Typical showing sizes are 25, 50, 75 and 100. The term lingers despite efforts over the ye ars to replace it with GRPs.

Sample adult reach and frequency estimates for different showing sizes are provided in the following table.

Showing Reach Frequency
25 76.8% 8.2
50 83.4% 15.0
100 87.8% 28.5


Simmons Market Research Bureau (SMRB)

major competitor of MRI that provides media and product usage data on various audience groups broken down by numerous demographic and socioeconomic variables.


preset series of instructions or programs designed to allow the user to manipulate data, text and graphics, among other information, with a computer.

Standard Advertising Unit (SAU)

measure intended to make separate newspapers comparable despite different page layouts. Essentially, one SAU is equivalent to one column inch, whether the newspaper is a broadsheet or a tabloid.

Standard Rate and Data Service (SRDS)

company that provides cost and a variety of other useful media information on all major advertising media categories and vehicles within those categories.

Starch INRA Hooper

research company that provides advertisers with data on print and broadcast advertisement recognition and other communication measures. These data can be used to estimate message/vehicle ratios in media planning programs.

Syndicated program

television programs or series that are sold by syndicators to stations on a market-by-market basis without affiliated network involvement.



newspaper with a page size that is approximately half that of a broadsheet or standard newspaper.

Target audience

group of consumers that an advertiser is attempting to influence. The term is often interchanged with target market, which better identifies the geographic area(s) of interest.

Total schedule cost

estimated price tag of an anticipated schedule. It is obtained by summing across all vehicles in a plan the vehicle cost times the number of insertions in the vehicle.

Total Survey Area (TSA)

counties included in an Arbitron market report that are within and outside of a designated Area of Dominant Influence (ADI).

Tracking studies

research projects conducted to estimate the effects of advertising campaigns on target audiences, measuring such dimensions as awareness, recall, and attitudes, often for both the sponsoring advertiser and its major competitors.

Turnover rate

extent to which a media vehicle changes audience within a specified time frame. In broadcast it is often measured within a daypart as cumulative audience divided by the average quarter hour rating.

Two-use reach

or self-pair reach is the net audience of two insertions in a single media vehicle. This is a required input into many advertising media exposure distribution models.




carrier of advertising messages such as a magazine or a television program.



microcomputer operating system based on a graphical user interface (GUI) that is intended to make tasks easier, faster and more intuitive for the user than the text-based interface of DOS.




Zoned edition

applies to newspapers that offer advertisers subdivisions of their total circulation.


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